Tuesday, August 14

Recipe File: Raw-ish Hoisin Sauce

If you read far enough today, you'll get two recipes for the price of one.

Mostly, I'm a faithful woman. But sometimes, with the raw things, I cheat a bit. I might snatch a roasted peanut out of the jar -- because if it's smaller than a fingernail, it doesn't count.

Love my balsamic vinegar -- which technically is aged, not raw ... but "aged" is raw-speak for "It's been in a barrel for ten years, and there's definitely something growing in there, so let's call it raw and dance around a maypole singing hippie songs."

I don't buy into the nazi vegan proposition that honey, having interacted with bees, isn't vegan. (After all, nearly every flowering plant on earth interacts with bees and other pollinators. That's the way they propagate! Without animals as seed dispersal agents, vegans, and everyone else, would starve to death.)

And to my mind, things rotting in a jar of vinegar -- um, I mean, marinating -- just seem healthy and fashion-forward -- even if they might once have crossed a flame.

So it is with hoisin sauce, which is a Chinese barbeque sauce dripped from the heavens. When I'm making vegan lettuce wraps, hoisin sauce is just a must-have.

They say only God can make hoisin. But in the spirit of the raw vegan thing, I've been testing raw ingredients, trying to make my own hoisin sauce that doesn't come from a bottle packaged on the north side of the Hong Kong border -- or worse, New Jersey.

I may have found some success. Coming up soon: Korean lettuce wraps. Today, the most important ingredient: Hoisin sauce.

As part of my research, I've been checking internet sources (uniformly bad), and copying ingredients lists from various makes of commercial hoisin. I've even consulted with the resident expert, my daughter-in-law, the amazing cook from Sichuan province.

Conducted a bit of recipe testing, and here's my best shot at raw vegan hoisin sauce. It's kind of fabulous. It does, however, require a trip to the local Asian market for ingredients.

  • 1/4 C raw sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilis (more if you like spicy food)
  • 1/2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbls agave nectar or other liquid sweetner
  • 1 slice sun-dried tomato
  • 1-inch cube of tamarind (available in dried food section of Asian market. Substituting dates, prunes, or other gummy dried fruit changes the flavor only slightly.)

Pulse ingredients in blender. Gradually add water, or cooled herbal tea*, to bring mixture to thick syrup consistency.

* My neighbor persuaded me to make a healthful tea by steeping a cinnamon stick, two cloves of star anise, and a slice of dried licorice root (all available in the spice section of the aforementioned Asian market) for five minutes. Beyond amazing. I used the last cooled-off dregs, instead of plain water, in the final award-winning recipe. Yes!

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Cheesy song, and naked Frenchmen man to boot: La Grande Vadrouille, Tea for Two.

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