Archive for the ‘veggie stuff’ Category

Rooster Sauce

More officially known as Sriracha, but “rooster sauce” is much easier to say.  Key to many Asian dishes. It comes in several varieties, the most common being a smooth ketchup-consistency one that comes in a squeeze bottle and is often found on the table at Asian restaurants. In addition to chilies, it contains sugar, salt, garlic, and distilled vinegar, so it’s not a pure chili taste.

my sister's bottle of sriracha

My favorite variety is the chili paste with seeds and all called sambal oelek. This one doesn’t have flavors added to dilute the goodness of pure chilies.  It also comes in a chili-garlic flavor, which is what I usually stock in the fridge.  They’re all made by the same company (Huy Fong Foods out of California) so it also has the rooster on the outside.  All are pretty widely available at grocery stores, not just Asian ones.

sambal oelek

There’s a hilarious King of the Hill episode (not that they all aren’t hilarious) where the Asian community is trying to get the Hills to join their country club as the token whites.  They introduce Peggy to the maker of the hot sauce and she says to him “You look much younger on the bottle.”  And he replies “There’s a rooster on the bottle.”


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There are  a couple of Chinese brands out there that put out mock meats in a can (mmm….).  Behold:

Chai Pow Yu (Chai = vegetarian, pow yu = abalone):  Veggie abalone, which doesn’t taste anything like abalone (which actually tastes like a cross between clams and the non-tentacle part of calamari).  It’s just fried bits of seitan.  The labels have gotten progressively Western-friendly since I was little, so that’s encouraging.  You can eat it plain or add it to rice noodles, fried rice, or ramen.  Good stuff, especially the curry flavor:


Veggie duck.  I don’t know what that label translates to since “duck” is ngap (the ng sound is made by pressing just the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth so your nasal passages are closed off).  I’ve had real duck; this doesn’t taste anything like it. Also it’s a little grainy, which if I recall correctly, duck can be.  Not my favorite mock meat product.  Some brands (yes, there are multiple ones) put this odd bumpy texture on it, maybe to simulate duck skin? I don’t know but it’s not pleasant.  I can’t think of any uses for this other than as a side dish to rice.  Oh, apparently there’s a wikipedia page dedicated to mock duck (warning: photo is NOT appetizing):


Chai Tseung (tseung = sausage).  Vegetarian sausage.  Not sure where the “cha’rng” comes from; there’s no “r” sound in Cantonese.  Can’t remember if I’ve ever tried this.

available at Amazon.com!

Veggie Chicken: Also has the unappealing bumpy texture.  If I recall correctly, ridiculously salty.


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Veggie Jerky

There’s basically two kinds of Chinese jerky– dry, which is usually loose and flossy, and wet, which is flat and leathery. We grew up eating a lot of it. Good stuff, but made from animals. And probably not parts of animals you want to eat either. Thank god there’s veggie Chinese jerky. Great for cooking, snacking, gifting (hint). Most of the ones I’ve found are mushroom-based, much like the Primal Strips brand I like so much. The varieties I’ve found so far are hot, mild, and some odd tomato kind must’ve been good because Elliott ate the whole package before I could try some. So here’s a picture of the others we currently stock in the pantry. Be warned, cooking with the hot flavor jerky will turn whatever you’re cooking a creepy pink or red shade. Also I’ve discovered just because they say “tofu cake” or “fromage de soya” (um, tofu cheese?) doesn’t mean they are made from soy.


I’m happy to say that I used to have to stock up in NYC at May Wah Vegetarian store. But the other day I was at the Hong Kong Market here in Portland (Maine) and lo and behold they had veggie jerky. That was a good day.

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