Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Vegan Yaka Mein

Yaka Mein (aka "Old Sober") from my cookbook Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.

UPDATE: This recipe was originally posted in February 2, 2013. I wanted to start a new tradition for New Year's Day and this is one of my favorite recipes from the book so I spent a little time retaking the photos when I made it today to celebrate the new decade. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Since I won't be traveling to New Orleans this Carnival, I am bringing Mardi Gras to me with a traditional Louisiana favorite known as Yaka Mein.

I was watching the Food Network one night, and they had a Chopped episode that featured Louisiana chefs as all four contestants.  One of the contestants was known as the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady.  (Her real name is Ms. Linda Green.)  What is Yaka Mein?  It is basically a beef based broth and beef, spiced up with Cajun spices, poured over spaghetti noodles, topped with green onions and a hardboiled egg.  I was fascinated by this dish.  Asian inspired Louisiana soul food?  Well if that isn't fusion, I don't know what is!  Which is exactly why I needed a vegan version for my book, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.

There is some controversy over how the dish ended up in Louisiana.  Some say it was the black soldiers fighting in Korea who brought it back to the states.  Yet, others say it was the Chinese workers brought over to work on the railroad between Houston to New Orleans who eventually settled in the now defunct New Orleans Chinatown who popularized the dish.  Regardless of how it got there, the locals revel in its ability to "cure" hangovers, hence the moniker "Old Sober."

Yaka Mein (aka "Old Sober")
I am going to give you two ways to make this.  One super easy, and semi-homemade, and one that is completely from scratch.  Both are yummy, and both make use of a funky fun tofu "deviled egg." Both ways taste great!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

1 pound dry spaghetti noodles
6 1/2 cups vegan beef broth, store bought or homemade (recipe below)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (only if using store bought broth!)
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
+/- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste (1/4 teaspoon makes it pretty darn spicy!)
1 pound prepared seitan cut into bit sized chunks, store bought or homemade (recipe below)
8 tofu deviled eggs (recipe below), optional
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.
As pasta is boiling, add broth to a separate pot along with the Old Bay, paprika, oregano, and cayenne pepper.  If using store bought broth, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to the broth as well.
Bring the broth to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
Add in seitan chunks,cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Divide pasta into four big bowls.
Spoon one fourth of the seitan and broth over the noodles.
Place two tofu deviled eggs on top of each bowl.
Sprinkle with green onions.

Yield: 4 big hearty bowls

Homemade Ya Ka Mein Broth
6 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
+/- 1 teaspoon black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a pot, stir and proceed with recipe instructions above.

Homemade Ya Ka Mein Seitan Chunks
1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your pan

Add all dry ingredients to a mixing bowl, and stir to combine.
Add water and soy sauce and knead until a very elastic and wet dough is formed.
Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Tear dough into bite sized chunks.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
Add chunks to hot oil taking care not to over crowd the pan.
Fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until dark golden brown and crispy.
Transfer fried chunks into simmering broth and continue with above recipe instructions.

Tofu Deviled Eggs
1 (1 pound) block extra or super firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tablespoons (15 g) prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mellow white or yellow miso
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and Pepper to taste (black salt will give it an extra eggy flavor)

Cut your block of tofu in half.
Cut one half into 8 rectangular blocks about 2″ long by 1 1/2″ wide by 3/4″ tall.
Using a spoon, scoop out a little “bowl” in each block, set aside.
Add remaining tofu and all remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth.
Roll mixture into little balls, or using a mini ice cream scoop, and place inside the bowls you made in the tofu blocks. (use any left over mixture as a yummy sandwich spread, or just eat it all up with a spoon!)
Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of paprika before placing on top of the Ya Ka Mein.


Ania K said...

Yum! Really like the tofu deviled eggs here -- can't wait to try this all together!

Chubby McGee said...

YUM! I'm going to have to do this for a special event or something. It looks divine!

doemora said...

i made this and it's super easy-- don't need to wait for a special event!

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh all of this looks so delicious! I am new to your blog!

Matt said...

That looks so darn good - I'm trying to convince my partner to make this as we speak ;)

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KitteeBee said...

Wow! I never go taste yaka mein in NOLA, because a vegan version does not exist, but your rendition looks so great. This is mostly sold from street corner asian take out places--at least that I know of.

I detest hard boiled eggs in all forms, but I must say yours look really beautiful. You did great with this, just wow.

Also, you might be interested in reading Sara Roahen's Gumbo Tales.


Joni Marie Newman said...

Thanks, Kittee! I just ordered that book from Amazon :)

JohnP said...

So fun to see this! I made a version of this dish for the Louisiana post in my 2012 MoFo project. We really liked it, and I'm eager to try your recipe!

Bianca said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This makes my world! Thanks Joni. I'm pinning this and making very, very soon.

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joanna said...

I will definitely be trying the entire recipe soon... but wanted to thank you for such a great deviled "egg" recipe!!!

We are a newly plant-based family...coming up on our first Thanksgiving... my son was feeling a little bad that he would be missing one of his past favorite holiday foods... when we discovered your recipe!

We did a trial-run today and wow!

Thanks again!

Joni Marie Newman said...

Oh, how awesome! Thanks for sharing. Deviled eggs have always been a Thanksgiving tradition in our family as well, so these now proudly sit on our T-day table too! Enjoy :)

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Babette said...

I made your recipe for yesterday's Fusion Challenge (VeganMoFo 2015) and it was so amazing! It was fun to eat with the deviled tofu that you can dip in the broth... speaking of which, I didn't know a broth could be that delicious.

You can see my pictures here :

Thank you for sharing that recipe =) I will be making it again and again.

Joni Marie Newman said...

I'm glad you liked it! Awesome post :)

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni