Tag Archives: fusion

kimchitots0

Gosh, I can’t believe the results of the election. I am just so disappointed in the United States for making such a dumb vote. No really. I think anyone who voted for Trump over Hillary is an idiot who has no idea how the government, economy, and budgeting works. Period. If you are hiring a person to work, who would you hire? The person with zero skill sets and wasn’t very good at his previous job, or the highly qualified person? I think the thing that scares me the most is what this election symbolizes. I have a very bad feeling there will be a huge rise in hate crimes. I don’t think the government will fail and crumble, but I do think there will be some damage to a lot of human rights movements, the economy, and our government budget.

The saddest part is that I was getting many phone calls from Philadelphia asking if I voted yet. I was once registered in Pennsylvania when I was going to school at UArts. It was exciting to know my vote counted in a swing state. It helped elect president Obama. It felt awesome. And it is sad thinking that I have a voicemail from a woman asking if I could walk around the corner to vote, when I wasn’t registered to vote in that state. Yes, I am happy and proud that Clinton did so well in the state of New Jersey, but it is so depressing that my vote isn’t counting more. If we are lucky there will be a strong movement to change the electoral voting system.

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But I think it is important to keep on moving, so let’s talk about these Kimchi Nacho Tots. I thought about this dish after Olives For Dinner made some gochujang queso. Many people who eat Korean food might think cheese + gochujang seems like a mistake. But it is a pretty awesome combo. Making a platter similar to nachos with tater tots is a pretty American meal. But I prefer midwest method of making a bubbly casserole with the tater tots.

I like to eat these with some corn tortilla chips, lettuce, salsa, and korean pickles. Having the mix of soft melty cheese and potato and crunch cold textures is a match made in heaven. The recipe is pretty customizable, just keep things either tex-mex or asian inspired. Don’t want black beans? Try tofu or beef crumbles. Ran out of salsa? Try making some quick cucumber pickles with rice vinegar and sesame oil.

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For this recipe I used Daiya for the cheesy sauce. I don’t normally using fake cheese in this sort of way, but I ran out of nutritional yeast (oh no!) So this was a lot more rich than what I was use to. You can pick whatever cheese you want, but try and pick one similar to cheddar or monterey jack and it make sure it can melt. If it still isn’t your thing, feel free to use nutritional yeast. No biggie.

As for gochujang, it is an important part of the dish. It is a fermented chili paste that is popular in Korean cooking. The taste is pretty unique compared to other chili pastes out there. Luckily it is becoming increasingly more common place in groceries stores so you can grab some. If you live near a Korean or Asian food market you might be able to find MANY different kinds of gochujang. You can even pick from heat levels. If you don’t like hot, I suggest trying to get a mild version and using the max amount. If not, just cut down on the amount.

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If you still can’t find any gochujang, I recommend checking out my cheater’s gochujang recipe, that I listed below. It still uses Korean pepper, but that is much cheaper to get from Amazon online than a bottle of paste. 

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masalamary0

I might be one of the few people who got stumped by todays prompt to recreate a dish from a restaurant. I don’t eat out often, and I think part of the fun of eating out is that it is something you can’t make. So the desire to recreate is a little low. At first I thought about recreating the heirloom beans with a hazelnut-tomato vinegrette that I had from Charlie was a Sinner. But truthfully they were pretty simple, and I felt weird adapting an already vegan recipe. And then I started thinking of NON-vegan restaurants I’ve been too lately, which is pretty much only Indeblue. And then I thought about the bloody mary.

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Then it occurred to me that their bloody mary might not of been vegan, because I always forget about Worcestershire sauce. Even though the bloody mary tasted awesome, the texture was a little off. It was really thick, and some of the spices, particularly the black pepper, were just in chunks. So I thought I could surely make something better, especially since I had a bunch of delicious tomatoes picked from my CSA farm.

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I am a big bloody mary fan, but I am aware of it’s very un-vegan potential. It is one of the few savory cocktails that are popular, and therefore it is easy to add animal based umami flavors. A lot of cocktails end up using beef consomm√© or bouillon and worcestershire sauce, and that is if they didn’t fancy up the cocktail. Some places will add a slap of bacon or shrimp instead of a celery or pickle garnish. And then there is the Mary’s Canadian cousin Caesar that uses clamato juice. Ugh! And I am not going to get into the whole bloody mary mix. So many disappointments!

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So what’s a vegan suppose to do? Well, make their own, duh! It is easy to make in large batches and serve in a pitcher for Sunday Brunch. And it tastes pretty good without the vodka too! So if you aren’t a drinker or underaged, you are still in luck. I tried to make this drink pretty simple, no fancy appliances. So hopefully most of you guys will have these two things: a blender and a nut milk bag. And your set!

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Of coarse it is in order to point out that this isn’t a normal bloody mary. I got this at an Indian restaurant that was serving brunch, so it uses a curry blend in the drink.

I’ve heard from my sister who has traveled to various parts of Europe, and even lived in France for a year that Bloody Mary’s are a very American cocktail. Since Vegan Mofo has a lot of readers across the globe, I would love to hear if you had any Bloody Mary. When do you drink it? In a bar or brunch like Americans do? You wouldn’t think Bloody Marys would be such a brunch drink because of the vodka. I recently told my father in law how you make it, and he seemed pretty surprised!

Side note- if this is your first bloody mary, there are some standard garnishes. Celery is the classic, but I prefer the pickle (I just didn’t have any for the photo.) But there is still more variation including carrots, olives, and heck, do some facon-bacon!

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storefront

Honeygrow

1588 Kings Hwy N, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
More locations in Radmor, Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, PA
Upcoming Locations: Hoboken NJ, Newark & Wilmington DE
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

Working at a restaurant, I know the frustrations between customer and cashier. There is a lot of space for confusion. Sometimes the person ordering is misinformed, sometimes it is the cashier. You wouldn’t believe how many times people order the wrong thing and blame the cashier, or have the situation totally opposite. Which is why I am totally in love with this new emerging chain named Honeygrow.

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I knew of the name Honeygrow because it was on my list of potential places to check out in Philly. At the time it was a cool idea since my husband was still fairly omnivorous, and I was always seeking very veg-friendly restaurants. But on my way to work I noticed how a local shopping center had totally turned around once Whole Foods opened up. One of the shops was a new branch from Honeygrow. I eagerly watched for the shop to open since it would be a great stop for dinner on late nights. Once the store was opened, I excitedly went in, not know really what it would be like.

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What makes Honeygrow so different is how automated it is. Basically they cut out the cashier, so there is no confusion if I said “egg noodles” or “rice noodles.” And it is pretty easy to navigate, stir-fry, salad or other. Then the menu gives you options all along the way, giving some premade options, or letting you choose veggies, protein, sauce, and noodle. This means that you have full control of your dietary restriction. All items are labeled clearly if they are vegan or gluten-free and there are lots of workers around to help with questions.

What else is really cool is that while waiting I could make out a general system that was going on with the line chefs. It looked like there was one guy who would prep the veggies, then got passed to a person who did the grains, then to someone who did the proteins and frying. This down the line system really makes it fairly fool proof to mess up what you ordered. And since there is such a large volume of custom orders you have less mess-up from habit. For example if you order a veggie burger with no cheese, sometimes you will get it with cheese on top not because the chef is trying to be an asshole. Sometimes it is just one of those things where if you are making 50 veggies burgers in a day, you just get accustomed to adding the cheese. Having a checklist of ingredients instead of set menu items minimizes forming bad habits like that.

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So for the first day I tried to keep it simple. I got my husband and I the vegan set menu item, the red coconut curry. It has tofu, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, and rice noodles tossed in their red coconut curry. The item is listed as “spicy” but that is deceiving. It has a light kick, so if you like spicy, grab some sriracha. But the dish was delicious, and both my husband and I were wanting more.

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We went back a second time for take out, this time we tried to make custom orders. We stuck to the veggies, tofu, and rice noodles option, but switched around the sauces. I got my husband the sour cherry BBQ, which wasn’t vegan (I think because it has honey, but I forgot to ask a worker) which he said was pretty tasty, but wished it was spicier. I got the sesame garlic topping, which was delicious. It made the dish taste like chinese takeout only not as greasy and with fresher ingredients.

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When Alexa came to visit I knew we had to check the place out in person, see what it would be like to eat there. The second trip I tried their lemon-miso-tahini with rice, which was amazing. The rice is a mix of black and brown rice, which gave a nice chewy texture. I think the rice probably would of paired better with sesame garlic sauce in the end though. Alexa tried out the egg noodles (as a vegetarian friendly option) with the coconut curry and got her seal of approval.

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Pros:

  • Easy to customize orders and hard to mess up. Making it ideal for dietary restrictions.
  • I also find that the wait isn’t very long regardless how busy it is, and probably have to do with their line system. 
  • Ingredients are super fresh, so fresh you can taste it
  • Everything is pretty much well cooked, tofu firm, spinach not over cooked etc.
  • Multiple locations, so you have more chances to give the place a try
  • The Kitchen is peanut free, making it great for people with allergies.

Cons:

  • It is always busy. I mean ALWAYS. I keep trying to come during off hours and they are still packed.
  • Seating is alright, since it is so busy you might find yourself eating at the stool and bench, which isn’t very comfy. This complaint may be exclusive the the Cherry Hill location.
  • Cross contamination is a big possibility. It doesn’t seem to be any special woks just for meat, gluten, etc. Some people might be freaked out by this. The company contacted me about cross contamination and wrote this back: “We use a separate wok and equipment for rice noodle requests and the wok is thoroughly cleaned/burned between each stir fry to avoid cross contamination for vegetarians and vegans – we also change gloves when noted vegetarian or vegan. When a guest states that they are gluten free, we make a point to change gloves, aprons, clean and sanitize the ladles, and burn the wok. Lastly, there is a separate wok that is used whenever an allergy is extremely sever and it is needed.”

Pro OR Con: It isn’t vegan exclusive. This can make it great for eating out with stubborn relatives, but stinks that you can’t expose people to delicious vegan options. But because they have so many vegan options means it gives a friendly enviroment for people who are interested in cutting back on animal products. Take what you will from this concept.