|Ya Ka Mein (aka "Old Sober") from the upcoming Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.|
Since I won't be traveling to New Orleans this Carnival, I am bringing Mardi Gras to me with a traditional Louisiana favorite known as Ya Ka Mein. Kittee, I am looking for your approval on this one!
I was watching the Food Network the other night, and they had a Chopped episode that featured Louisiana chefs as all four contestants. One of the contestants was known as the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady. (Her real name is Ms. Linda Green.) What is Ya Ka Mein? It is basically a beef based broth and beef, spiced up with Cajun spices, poured over spaghetti noodles, topped with green onions and a hardboiled egg. I was fascinated by this dish. Asian inspired Louisiana soul food? Well if that isn't fusion, I don't know what is! Which is exactly why I needed a vegan version for my newest book, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.
There is controversy over how the dish ended up in Louisiana. Some say it was the black soldiers fighting in Korea who brought it back to the states. Yet, others say it was the Chinese workers brought over to work on the railroad between Houston to New Orleans who eventually settled in the now defunct New Orleans Chinatown who popularized the dish. Regardless of how it got there, the locals revel in its ability to "cure" hangovers, hence the moniker "Old Sober."
I am going to give you two ways to make this. One super easy, and semi-homemade, and one that is completely from scratch. Both are yummy, and both make use of a funky fun tofu "deviled egg." Both ways taste great! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
1 pound dry spaghetti noodles
6 1/2 cups vegan beef broth, store bought or homemade (recipe below)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (only if using store bought broth!)
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
+/- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste (1/4 teaspoon makes it pretty darn spicy!)
1 pound prepared seitan cut into bit sized chunks, store bought or homemade (recipe below)
8 tofu deviled eggs (recipe below), optional
1/2 cup chopped green onion
Prepare pasta according to package instructions.
As pasta is boiling, add broth to a separate pot along with the Old Bay, paprika, oregano, and cayenne pepper. If using store bought broth, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to the broth as well.
Bring the broth to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
Add in seitan chunks,cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Divide pasta into four big bowls.
Spoon one fourth of the seitan and broth over the noodles.
Place two tofu deviled eggs on top of each bowl.
Sprinkle with green onions.
Yield: 4 big hearty bowls
Homemade Ya Ka Mein Broth
6 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
+/- 1 teaspoon black pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a pot, stir and proceed with recipe instructions above.
Homemade Ya Ka Mein Seitan Chunks
1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your pan
Add all dry ingredients to a mixing bowl, and stir to combine.
Add water and soy sauce and knead until a very elastic and wet dough is formed.
Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Tear dough into bite sized chunks.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
Add chunks to hot oil taking care not to over crowd the pan.
Fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until dark golden brown and crispy.
Transfer fried chunks into simmering broth and continue with above recipe instructions.
Tofu Deviled Eggs
1 (1 pound) block extra or super firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tablespoons (15 g) prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mellow white or yellow miso
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and Pepper to taste (black salt will give it an extra eggy flavor)
Cut your block of tofu in half.
Cut one half into 8 rectangular blocks about 2″ long by 1 1/2″ wide by 3/4″ tall.
Using a spoon, scoop out a little “bowl” in each block, set aside.
Add remaining tofu and all remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth.
Roll mixture into little balls and place inside the bowls you made in the tofu blocks. (use any left over mixture as a yummy sandwich spread, or just eat it all up with a spoon!)
Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of paprika before placing on top of the Ya Ka Mein.