It's that time of year - Oscar Noms are back! I started this tradition last year, making recipes inspired by the annual Academy Award Best Picture Nominations. I was really happy with what I made last year, so I hope this year's nine dishes will be equally inspired if not more so. We're kicking off the countdown with Dan Dan Noodles, in honor of The Descendants. I thought about making something Hawaiian, since that is where the film is set, but I wouldn't even know how to go about veganizing Spam, poi is disgusting, and shave ice is delicious but not really a great recipe to share. Anyway, we love Hawaii (especially because it's where we got married) and also love how it is a melting pot for all types of Asian food, so Dan Dan Noodles seemed appropriate too.
These are very easy to make, and everything should be easy to find with the possible exception of the Szechuan peppercorns. Despite the name, these are not related to the common black peppercorns. These are the tongue-numbing little pods that are the key ingredient in spicy Szechuan cuisine. You should be able to find these at Asian groceries, or at specialty spice stores like Kalustyan's, if you live in NY or want to order online. The recipe is still delicious without the peppercorns, by the way, but it's just a different dish then. The other note about this recipe is that the non-vegan traditional version is usually made with minced pork. I used Lightlife Smart Ground Crumbles, but you could use Match Meat Ground "Pork", TVP, ground seitan, or anything else you like. (Note: MorningStar Farms brand contains both milk and eggs! It is NOT vegan!)
These are spicy, gingery, nutty, and completely addictive. They are also very versatile, so feel free to add veggies or anything else you like to the recipe. And stay tuned for more Oscar Noms coming soon!
Dan Dan Noodles (veganized from this recipe)
8 oz. Shanghai-style noodles (cu mian) or udon
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
12 oz. vegan ground "beef" crumbles
2 Tbsp. chopped peeled ginger
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. chili oil (I used a sesame chili oil and this worked fine)
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
Pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
1. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender but still firm to the bite. Drain.
2. Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add vegan crumbles and ginger, cook until crumbles are evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in vegetable stock and next 6 ingredients; simmer until sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Add noodles to sauce mixture; mix thoroughly to ensure noodles are evenly coated. Garnish with peanuts and scallions before serving.