Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spinach Vermicelli with Scallions and Seitan

Simon's mom was nice enough to bring us spinach vermicelli back from her trip to Canada.  (It came from an expansive Asian specialty grocery store, I am told.)  I hadn't ever made vermicelli before--or any other green-colored noodle, for that matter--so it was fun to give it a try. 

The spinach vermicelli started out light green, but unfortunately lost its color during cooking.

Spinach Vermicelli with Scallions and Seitan
  • 1 - 250g (8.8 ounce) package dried spinach-flavored rice vermicelli
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 or 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 - 8 ounce packages seitan (or homemade seitan), cut into small pieces
  • 1 small piece ginger, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
First, cook the vermicelli according to package instructions (I cooked the noodles for 2.5 minutes) and drain.  Set aside.
Next, prepare the sauce.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper.  Set aside. 

Then, heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions, seitan, and ginger and sauté, stirring every 2 minutes, until the seitan and onions begin to brown.  Add half of the sauce and then add the vermicelli and scallions (reserving a few scallions for garnish).  Add the rest of the sauce, stir the noodles until everything is combined and heated through.
Garnish with scallions and serve hot.  Serves 4-6 people. 

The rice vermicelli has a pretty unique texture.  It is both light and very thin, which Rachel enjoyed as a nice change from wheat pasta; for some context, Simon compared it to spaghetti squash.  The spinach flavor was pretty undetectable and the green color was overpowered by the brown sauce, but the dish as a whole had a pleasantly fragrant and gingery flavor.      
I'm not sure how easy it is to find rice vermicelli noodles at a standard American grocery store, given that these came from a Canadian specialty store.  Seitan can be difficult to find at big box grocery stores, as well.  To work around this, you can either stock up on vital wheat gluten and make your own, or stock up on pre-made seitan and freeze it.
 Ease of Preparation:     
This dish was pretty quick--especially compared to a dish that uses wheat noodles, which require longer to cook.  There's not much chopping involved here, either.   
Non-vegan friendliness:      
This makes a great summertime Asian dish and would make a great meal served with some steamed vegetables on the side.  The best part about it is that neither the sauce nor the noodles are heavy, like so many saucy noodle dishes can be. 

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