Tofu Shirataki Vietnamese Salad Recipe – Gluten Free

Tofu Shirataki Vietnamese Salad

Tofu Shirataki Vietnamese Salad

I was emailed this recipe and thought I’d pass it along to you.  It uses Tofu Shirataki noodles, which are made with tofu, and are gluten free.  I haven’t made this dish yet, but the ingredients look good, and should pair nicely with a BC Pinot Gris or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  I’ve listed a few after the recipe.  Enjoy.

Tofu Shirataki Vietnamese Salad Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

2 pkg House Foods Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti shape
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons
1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 cup shredded lettuce
2 scallions, sliced
chopped peanuts
pinch chili flakes (optional)
cilantro
mint

For Dressing:
1-1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
juice from 1 lime

DIRECTIONS:

For Salad:
Prepare Tofu Shirataki according to package instructions. Cut into manageable size. Add noodles, carrot, cucumber, chicken, lettuce and scallions in a large bowl and mix well.
Top with peanuts, mint, cilantro and chili flakes (if using).
Add dressing just before serving.

For Dressing:
Combine all ingredients in small ramekin and stir.

A Few Wine Selections

You can find a some of these wines at Everything Wine. The BC wines are available online from the wineries.

Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012, BC ($24.49)

Harper’s Trail Pinot Gris 2013, BC ($18.90)

Forrest Wines “The Doctors” Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ, 2012 (BC$19.95 SPEC)

Marisco Vineyards, The Kings Favour Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ, 2013 (BC $19.99 )

La Pepica Ensalada Valenciana

Variations on Ensalada Valenciana

Classic dishes, as I have found out, may have many variations.  For example, Paella and Ensalada Valenciana (Valencian Salad). Both dishes originate from Valencia, Spain, but all are made in different ways by different restaurants.  So it was an adventure each time I ordered one of these dishes.

For this article, I would like to show you two versions of Ensalada Valenciana, and also to give you a recipe I found on a Spanish recipe website.  Both salads were an appetizer before the main course.  The first salad was from a small cafe on the side street to my hotel.  The salad came with:

  • lettuce
  • sliced onions
  • sliced tomatoes
  • green olives
  • olive oil to taste
  • salt to taste
First Ensalada Valenciana with olive oil and salt in the background

First Ensalada Valenciana with olive oil and salt in the background

A simple salad, similar to what I could get in Vancouver.  The only “Valencian” or Mediterranean specific ingredient to me would be the green olives.

The second salad was from La Pepica, an institution on the Valencia Beach, having been in business for more than 100 years.  Their salad contained:

  • lettuce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • julienned carrots
  • black and green olives
  • sliced hard boiled egg
  • flaked tuna
  • pickled unripe figs ( I think )
  • olive oil to taste
  • salt to taste

This was a very tasty salad. In particular I liked the pickled unripe figs.  At first glance they look like small green olives with a stem, but on closer look, you see patterning on the skin, and when you bite in, it is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds; no single large seed.  The pickled figs are quite addictive, sour, similar to a green pickle, but has some other vegetal flavour I cannot place.  All I can do is recommend to try them when you are in Spain, or pick up a bottle from a Mediterranean grocery store.  Each bite of the salad has different flavours and textures, from the tuna to the tomatoes, eggs, and more.  Recommended.

La Pepica Ensalada Valenciana

La Pepica Ensalada Valenciana

And to round out this article, I tried to see which of the two above dishes served to me was the more authentic version.  I searched many recipe websites, trying to concentrate on Spanish websites, as I felt that these websites would be have their recipes uploaded from cooks in Spain.  Again, I found many variations, but I think the La Pepica one would be the better variation.

A close recipe I found had the following ingredients for 2 people:

  • lettuce
  • a tomato salad
  • a boiled egg
  • a can of tuna
  • olives
  • asparagus
  • onion
  • anchovies in oil
  • virgin olive oil
  • salt

(http://www.gandiaturistica.com/ensalada-valenciana.htm)

Whatever variation you prefer, please try to make an Ensalada Valenciana this summer as a nice start to a summer dinner (and pair it with a Rosado wine), or try it at a restaurant in Spain if you are lucky enough to travel there.  Enjoy!

3 Interesting Observations about Spanish Food & Wine

Living in one country or city for most of your life you come to expect certain things when you go to a restaurant to eat.  Visiting another country, especially one that is significantly different in language and culture, I have found can suprise you about food and meals.  Here are 4 of my current observations from my visit in Valencia, Spain.

1. Condiments at the table

When sitting at a table and enjoying your meal, in North America you would expect salt and pepper.  In Spain I have observed that black pepper is not provided at all.  Salt is always at the table, and if it is not, the server will bring you salt when they serve you your dish.  People really like to salt their food in Spain.  I would love to sprinkle some pepper on my dishes, but am adjusting.

Many of the marinated fish dishes that I had, were heavily salted.  Maybe not using much salt back in Vancouver has sensitized me to sodium.  But a warning if you do order some marinated fish at a tapas bar, be prepared that it could be quite salty.

2. Patatas Bravas – tapas

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

Back in North America, one of the tapas dishes I really like is Patatas Bravas; cooked potates, cut in cubes and then coated with a spicy tomato/paprika sauce, and sometimes with a poached egg.  Here in Spain, when I ordered the Patatas Bravas, I get a bit of the tomato/paprika sauce, but it is mostly mayonnaise that coats the potatoes.  It is quite filling and rich.  Sometimes dishes that are made in North America, do not match the dish in it’s country of origin.

3. Sangria

Similar to food dishes, drinks can also differ from country to country.  When I enjoy Sangria in Canada, I get a pitcher full of chopped fruits, and is not too sweet.  In my latest Sangria experience in Spain, my pitcher contained only 2 slices of lemon, wine, and a sweet fruit juice.  Not quite what I expected.  Again you need to be flexible and go with the flow.

Related to my Sangria observation, is the love of sugar here in Spain.  Desserts like turrone are quite sweet.  Non-alcoholic drinks, in particular, horchata, which is popular here, is quite sweet.  Along with the horchata, they love to have a sweet pastry, in particular a Farton, a long thin sweet bread topped with icing or icing sugar.

4. Salad Dressing

Salad with olive oil and salt in the background

Salad with olive oil and salt in the background

A typical salad dressing in Canada is oil and vinegar based, blended with various spices.  I have found in Spain that when I receive the salad, I am also given a bottle of olive oil and of course salt.  I miss the acidity of vinegar for my salad, but embracing the Spanish way of doing things.

I’m sure I will come across more observations on food and wine before my time in Spain is over.  Stay tuned on my blog and on Twitter.  Cheers.

TASTE Resto-Lounge Opens Downtown – Food, Art, Music

Taste Resto Lounge chandelier and bar

Taste Resto Lounge chandelier and bar

Last week was the opening of TASTE Resto Lounge at 560 Seymour Street, in downtown Vancouver. It is next door to the nightclub, FIVESIXTY, so you may want to have a nibble here before dancing the night away.

On this evening we were served mini versions of the share plate menu items. Upon entering TASTE, you are struck by the red glass chandeliers, giving a Gothic or Bordello type atmosphere, depending on who you ask. At the back of the room is a long table, where you can sit with your friends, and make new friends, while you eat and drink, and view the featured artists’ paintings on the walls.

Sharing Plates Samples

Charcuterie at TASTE Resto Lounge

Charcuterie at TASTE Resto Lounge

We were given tastings of:

  • charcuterie, with a mix of sausages, prosciutto, capicollo, artisanal cheese, and sweet pickled beets
  • house smoked chicken liver pate with capicollo, pickled beets, pesto, onion marmalade on a crostini
  • bacon chutney with pear and brie stack and a chimmichurri sauce on a crostini
  • a salad of roma tomatoes, fresh Bocconcini with diced cucumber and white balsamic pesto

I think my favourite item was the chicken liver pate.  Lots of flavour, and paired nice with a glass of prosecco.  All of the ingredients, I was told, are local and organic by Executive Chef Renaldo Decembrini.

Wine and Other Drinks

The wine list has a range of wines from around the world, but BC wines were missing.  It would be nice to add in one white and one red in the list.  The food and wine list were designed to be complementary and they have some selections with food and wine pairings on a chalk board beside the long table in the back of TASTE.

On the white wine side, you can enjoy a glass of Marisco the Ned Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, full of herbal character, and have with a salad.  The Canti Prosecco as I mentioned to go with the chicken liver pate. Try the Fritz Riesling or the Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc with the charcuterie.

There are 2 Argentinean Malbecs to choose; Pascual Toso  and Dona Paula. I did have a sip of the Marques de la Mancha Tempranillo, very full bodied, lots of dark fruit and very smooth and silky. Definitely would pair nicely with the charcuterie or their house smoked beef tenderloin.

In addition, there are some BC/Canadian beers on tap.  They also invented some cocktails that are meant to pair with their share plates.  I did not have a chance to try these, but maybe on my next visit.

I wish TASTE Resto-Lounge the best of luck in their launch.

Charcuterie menu at TASTE

Charcuterie menu at TASTE

salad of roma tomatoes Bocconcini and cucumber

Salad of roma tomatoes, Bocconcini, and cucumber

TASTE chalk board recommendations

TASTE chalk board recommendations

What wine to pair with a vegetarian meal?

For those of you that haven’t had a vegetarian meal, think again.  You typically have cereal or a muffin and coffee for breakfast.  For lunch it could be a salad or a vegetable sandwich or soup.  That leaves you with one meal with meat.  You are almost a vegan without knowing it, or doing much.

For most people, dinner is the main meal, and this is where the what wine to pair with a vegetarian meal will be addressed.  There is a wide variety of vegan dishes.  There are vegan dishes from all countries.  For example, Indian food has many curries made with vegetables.  Curries are usually spicy, so my recommendation is a fruity red or white wine.  The fruitiness can hold up to the spice in the wine.  You do not want to pick a dry, tannic cabernet.  A Merlot would be a better choice.  On the white wine side, a Kabinett style Riesling from Germany would work.  I have also been told that Pinotage (a red grape from South Africa) works quite well with curries.

The key point for meals, whether vegan or not, is to consider how the food is cooked (e.g. grilled or sauteed), and what sauce or spices are being used in the dish.  If you have a spicy sauce, then a wine that has lots of fruitiness works, not a dry, tannic wine.  A meal that is sauteed and has maybe a mild, citrus sauce, could pair well with a lighter bodied white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or a chenin blanc, or a lighter bodied red, such as pinot noir or gamay.  A dish with a creamy or buttery sauce would pair well with a Burgundian wine (chardonnay or pinot noir).  The silkiness of these wines complementing the silkiness of the sauce.

Salads can be a challenge because of the sourness of the vinegar.  You may want to try a high acidity wine such as a New Zealand or BC sauvignon blanc, or a dry riesling from Australia.

Some vegetarians do eat fish.  Most fish are delicately flavoured so again pick a delicately flavoured wine, such as unoaked chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir or riesling.  If you get some smoked salmon, try pinot gris, Alsatian riesling, or a pinot noir.

There is much more than I can write about in this short blog.  Hopefully this will give you some pointers.  Enjoy!