Photos by Emily Caruso
One of my favorite regular features on Oh My Veggies is Make It Meatless. While I've never felt like I needed a vegetarian version of Salisbury steak or meatballs, it's fun to come up with ways to make those recipes with vegetables, grains, beans or other proteins substituted for the meat. And for new vegetarians who struggle with missing their favorite foods, recreating meat-based recipes and making them meatless can make that transition so much easier.
Last week I shared a Rustic Polenta Casserole recipe from America's Test Kitchen's The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook; while the cookbook is full of recipes that are naturally meatless, there are also a lot of vegetarian makeovers for those of you who, like me, have a weakness for that kind of thing. What I love most about America's Test Kitchen is the way they take the time to explain the how and why of every recipe—something that is especially helpful when it comes to meatless remakes. Shabu-shabu, bolognese, paella, albondigas and reubens are just a few of the recipes that get the "make it meatless" treatment in this cookbook.
Mee Goreng is an Indonesian noodle dish that's traditionally made with meat and shrimp pan-fried in a sweet soy sauce. In this version, tofu replaces the meat; because Indonesian-style sweet soy sauce isn't readily available in most supermarkets, America's Test Kitchen uses a substitute made with molasses, brown sugar and regular soy sauce. Because the noodles are sweet, a squeeze of lime juice just before serving is essential in balancing the flavors of the dish.
- 1 pound fresh Chinese noodles
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 4 large shallots 2 minced and 2 sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound bok choy stalks and greens separated and sliced ½ inch thick
- 4 scallions sliced thin on bias
- Lime wedges
- Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add noodles and cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain noodles and set aside.
- Whisk sugar, molasses, and soy sauce together in bowl. In separate bowl, combine minced shallots, garlic, and sambal oelek.
- Spread tofu over paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently pat tofu dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, then toss with cornstarch in bowl. Transfer coated tofu to strainer and shake gently over bowls to remove excess cornstarch. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-heat heat until just smoking. Add tofu and cook, turning as needed, until crisp and browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes; transfer to bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add sliced shallots and cook until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add bok choy stalks and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Clear center of skillet, add garlic mixture, and cook, mashing mixture into skillet until fragrant, about 30 seconds; stir into vegetables.
- Stir in noodles, tofu, bok choy leaves, and scallions. Whisk sauce to recombine, add to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.
This looks insane 🙂
This looks great! And fairly easy too - I have always been a bit intimidated by the Indonesian cuisine since I know so little about it...but this recipe looks fairly straightforward and has none of the exotic ingredients I don't know where to buy! Thanks!
I'm glad to see you're as OBSESSED with this cookbook as I am! I might just cook my way through it's pages, even if it takes me a lifetime!
looks great and is very tasty. I prepared it today and I went wow.
this looks so good!!!!!!!!!!! I love america's test kitchen, too!
Tried that last night. My bok choy were too old so had to find a quick replacement. I used cauliflower and thinly sliced cabbage. I used only half the sugar. YUMMMMMY! We skipped the Sambal Oelek and added it into our plate after so our toddler could eat it . Big success in our house!
PS. Why do people post that it LOOKS good? I mean, try it and then comment, no? Just a thought!
I love this recipe! I've made it 4 times now, and my most recent last night was the best yet. I use whatever noodles I have on hand - fresh Chinese are best but linguini works too, and once I used buckwheat which was tasty. I've tried the sauce part (soy sauce, molasses, brown sugar) as written, but I prefer a slightly less sweet version - the full measure of soy sauce, but half the stated brown sugar and half molasses. This is a personal preference thing.
I double the sambal oelek, recommend doing this if you are a HOT food lover. As for the tofu, I really like to press mine for 30-40 minutes to get rid of more of the moisture, then proceed as written; or, I sometimes bake the tofu. (Press, cut into cubes, use nonstick pan, bake for 45 minutes at about 350 or until they're to your desired texture.) I find that the cornstarch step makes the tofu crispy and yummy... for dinner that night. But once you store it overnight, the crispyness goes away. The tofu will still taste good, but it'll be chewy, just like it is when you use the baking method.
As for the greens. Bok choy is great, but yesterday I couldn't find any, so I used about 1.25 lbs of savoy cabbage. It was great! The dark green outer leaves, I sliced very thin, and steamed them for a good 4-5 minutes. The tender white and pale green parts cook fast so I added those a little later. Anyway, after steaming the dark green leaves, I made a space in the middle of the pan, heated up 1T of oil, and mushed the garlic mixture around to give it a good head start cooking. Then I proceeded as written.
Sadly, I forgot to buy green onions, and I really missed them. As for the spritz of fresh lime at the table, don't skip this step, it's the crowning glory of the dish.
Thank you Kiersten!!
Caroline Statkus says
I'd like to thank Amanda for such a great and helpful review. I agree with Anoushka - why do people reply that it LOOKS good. Don't they have anything else to do? Just make it and then comment.
Great recipe ♡ ! Very good and easy. Next time, I would add more veggies (double the quantity of bokchow or add brocoli + bean sprouts).
Danielle Tiletnick says
I think your recipes are great! I personally ,and some of my mom's clients need recipes that are low in content, of fermentations that resemble alcohol, or would have the same effect when ingested by some one struggling with cancer, or candida albicans, and/or prolific yeast in their body terrain. What would you suggest?...For example, I never had a problem years ago eating tofu, now when and if I eat it the next day or more I get such a horrible headache like a a hangover... and someone with mild to severe cancer diagnosis can really suffer and their health decline rapidly.
Veronika Opatrná says
I have tried this recipe yesterday. I truly loved the taste, but the preparation is way too complicated!! I ended up with many dirty dishes and cooking time over a hour and I am not a beginner cook. I don't think it is necessary to fry bok choy or cabbage and onion separately, I would only do another pan for tofu. I don't see point in adding spicy sauce only into the onion, it gets mixed with the rest anyway. I think this recipe needs you to look into it again. But of course, the taste is amazing, so thank you for it.