I’ve been interested in trying my hand at Paper Chef for a while. It’s a blogging event/contest hosted by Owen at Tomatilla! and anyone can participate. It works like this: On Friday we’re given a set of four ingredients to use and we have to come up with a dish over the weekend. I may not have picked the best month to join in because two of the four ingredients this time were not vegan, but Owen very thoughtfully allows substitutions to be made for vegetarians and people with food restrictions.
These are the four ingredients, and what I decided to do with them:
1. Eggs or anything that reminds you of eggs: I think the most common egg substitute in vegan cooking is tofu, so I chose it.
2. Black fermented soy beans: I just so happened to have a jar of Fermented Black Bean and Garlic Sauce in my fridge, so this was no problem.
3. Giblets or any form of offal : OK, we have a problem. I mean, people go vegetarian because of giblets! I tried to think what vegan foods could be considered as offal and decided that since offal can be defined as waste material that is thrown away, and it’s the time of year where gardens are overflowing with surplus bounty, zucchini would be the perfect substitute. And I actually had zucchini that were just about to be recycled through the compost pile if I didn’t find a use for them.
4. Something that reminds you of Africa: When I think of African cooking, I think of peanuts and sweet potatoes (yams). It was hard to decide between them, but I ended up choosing sweet potatoes as my African ingredient.
When I put all those ingredients together in my mind, I kept coming back to the idea of patties or croquettes, filled with vegetables and served with a garlic-ginger sauce. The black bean sauce would lend saltiness and piquancy to the patties, and I decided to use shiitake mushrooms to add an earthy flavor. It was when we sat down to eat that I realized how similar this dish was to Egg Foo Yung, which I hadn’t had for years and had forgotten existed. I never would have thought to make this if not for the Paper Chef competition, so thank you to Owen for inspiring me to create this delicious meal.
Shiitake, Sweet Potato and Zucchini Foo Yung
Foo Yung Patties:
1 medium sweet potato, cut into cubes (about 2 cups total)
1 package regular (not silken) extra-firm tofu (about 14 ounces)
1 large zucchini, shredded
2/3 cup green onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ginger, grated
1 tsp. dark sesame oil (optional, for flavor)
1 tbsp. fermented black bean sauce
1 tsp. ginger paste (or additional grated ginger)
5 shiitake mushrooms, chopped (can use rehydrated dried mushrooms)
1 tsp. sriracha sauce or other chili sauce
1 tsp. salt (optional, for low-sodium diets)
1 1/2 tbsp. corn starch
baby spinach leaves and sliced green onions for garnish
1 cup water
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. vegetable bouillon powder
3 shiitake mushrooms, diced or sliced
Foo Yung Patties: Cover the sweet potato cubes with water and cook until tender. Drain the water and mash the sweet potatoes well. Set aside.
Press as much water as you can out of the tofu (if you have time, place it between towels put a weight on top of it for about a half hour). Use a potato masher to mash it thoroughly, so that no large chunks remain. Mix it with the sweet potatoes.
Heat a small non-stick skillet and add the sesame oil, zucchini, onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the zucchini softens, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the tofu-sweet potato mixture.
Add the remaining ingredients (except the garnish) and mix thoroughly.
To cook the patties, you can either pan-cook them (recommended) or bake them. The pan-cooked ones come out much more tender, but they have to be cooked in smaller batches.
To pan-cook, lightly spray a large, non-stick skillet and heat it over a medium-high burner. Form the tofu mixture into patties about 3 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Cook until well-browned and then turn, carefully, to cook until browned on the other side. Keep the cooked patties warm as you continue to cook the others.
To bake, preheat the oven to 400. Place the patties (see above) on an oiled baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn and cook for 15 more minutes.
Sauce: Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture boils, becomes translucent, and thickens. Serve immediately.
Serve the Foo Yung Patties on a bed of baby spinach, topped with sauce and garnished with green onions. Enjoy!
SusanVSeptember 10, 2011 at 9:32 am
Here are the comments from the original blog post:
This looks interesting and tasty. I’ve never had Egg Fu Yung vegan or non. Maybe it will make me like these type (or any type) of mushroom. Thanks for this post, what a combo of ingredients!
9:23 AM, September 05, 2006
susan, this looks soooo good. i love the presentation with the baby spinach leaves and the onions and the sauce drizzling.. yum.
for ginger paste, can i put some fresh ginger into a food processor with a bit of water, or is it store-bought?
9:23 AM, September 05, 2006
Thanks, Leslie and Tamara!
Tamara, you can get ginger paste at Indian groceries, but I think it would be fine to use grated or minced ginger. This is just what I did. Honestly, I tasted it after adding all the ingredients and just thought it needed more ginger. 😉
9:37 AM, September 05, 2006
Holy zucchini Batman! That looks awesome! Your photos are always awesome but this one in particular blew me away.
12:10 PM, September 05, 2006
I must agree with everyone that your presentation of this dish is superb. This is such a unique dish, that I’m very exciting to try. It’s great to have vegan dishes as a part of non-vegan contests. It really shows how exciting vegan food is. As always I love your creative recipes. Good luck!
5:31 PM, September 05, 2006
this looks fabulous! I’m really looking forward to trying this.
6:43 PM, September 05, 2006
Ginger paste…I will have to look for that…or did you make it yourself? jw. Oh! There is a message for you on the Veggin’ Out Forum inthe General Chatter area when you have time.
Enjoy your day!
8:03 AM, September 06, 2006
sorry, just read your response to Leslie and Tamara about finding it in Indian Grocery Stores…thanks!
8:04 AM, September 06, 2006
Oh this is way so funny: your very first Paper Chef and it’s the one with GIBLETS! Great substitute, however, in the spirit of the event. Very fun! And I’m so glad you’ve joined the Paper Chef fun, it’s an event made for creative cooks like you.
8:07 AM, September 06, 2006
that’s the most appetizing-looking foo yung I’ve ever seen! cherie
12:15 PM, September 06, 2006
Wow, Susan! These look divine. And your photography is drop dead gorgeous. Beautiful!
12:26 PM, September 06, 2006
Nan Beth said…
I added 2 cups of lightly stir fried bean sprouts which added a great cruch and served them over rice with more bean sprouts on top for garnish. They were great.
7:32 PM, September 16, 2006
Offal… as a vegetarian cook I would have used tempeh, gluten, or pieces of vegetarian hot dog… on the grounds that tempeh fits an interpretation of “we usually throw things away that are like this” (i.e. moldy), gluten sometimes resembles organ meats if it comes out too hard or too spongy after boiling, and hot dogs… well we know what usually goes into the meat ones, even if we don’t want to think about it!
2:06 AM, September 17, 2006
i love your reasoning on the use of zucchini – very clever, and very much keeping in the spirit of paper chef.
9:05 PM, October 02, 2006
Dante 1st said…
Hi, this is amazing. I love Egg Foo Yong (especially to have a Chinese mom). But I am also a vegan and can’t eat egg. Now this is the best of both worlds:).
BTW can you develop a vegan recipe for Mapo Tofu? Because I can omit the use of animal product in the ingredients but the jar of sauce from the store contains oyster so…
2:38 PM, July 04, 2009
JozetteSeptember 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm
I MISS EGG FOO YOUNG!! Ever since becoming vegan I haven’t been able to enjoy my favorite chinese dish….this looks amazing! i can’t wait to try it!! =) thanks
Trip HughesSeptember 25, 2012 at 10:46 am
Tried many of your recipes and love them! Thanks. Tried this recipe last evening. Followed the directions to the letter, but had some problems with the patties staying together. Finally added some flour to the mix then dusted with flour before placing in the frypan. Was there anything omitted from the recipe (ie. egg substitute, flour) that would have kept them together better? The taste was delicious, the texture not so much.
Any help or insight would be greatly apprecated.
Susan VoisinSeptember 25, 2012 at 10:56 am
It’s been a long time since I’ve made them, but this is how I did it at the time. I’ll have to try the recipe again and see if I have texture problems. Then I can figure out what to do to combat that (though adding flour sounds like a good solution).
Shana BrannonSeptember 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm
Susan, I had the same issues as Trip Hughes. The flavor was amazing, but the texture was really soft and wouldn’t stay together. I used his suggestion of adding flour both inside and outside of the patties. This helped some, but I would like them to be a little crispier on the outside. I don’t like using oil in my cooking, so I keep the pan spray to a minimum. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have. BTW, this is the first time I’ve had any issue of any kind with your recipes. Love everything you do!
Susan VoisinSeptember 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm
Shana, what I would do today is double the cornstarch, use the flour on the outside, and bake them instead of frying. I would start with 30 minutes at 375 and add more time if necessary.