Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blog Break

The blog is on hiatus for a few weeks while I'm in Asia. I'll have many new vegetarian adventures to report upon my return.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sui Mai

Dim Sum was the hardest thing for me to eschew when I became a vegetarian. I've been on a twenty-year quest to find vegetarian alternatives and have partially succeeded in some corners of the world, far from Los Angeles. You can find decent frozen dumplings at various Chinese and Korean supermarkets and fresh ones at a few choice restaurants. But I have yet to find a good vegetarian Sui Mai in Los Angeles (and I’ve ordered it on every menu where it is listed) which is why I was intrigued to see it first for sale at Ralphs and now in Trader Joe’s packaging in their freezer section.

Unlike other vegetarian versions of sui mai, this product is not stuffed with a loose mince of vegetables but rather a firm mass of moist firm tofu, flecked with chunks of edamame wrapped in yuba (tofu skin). Seasoned with onion, the meaty filling flavor mixed with fresh soybeans imparts a sweetness oddly reminiscent of the sweet snap of shrimp and pork in the real thing.

Trader Joe's on the left, Soyafarms on the right

Soyafarms make the product sold at Ralphs ($3.99 for 7 oz) as well as tofu nuggets, small fried patties shaped like chicken nuggets with the taste of the tofu sui mai filling. They most likely manufacture the product for Trader Joes (11oz for $2.59) as the two are very similar. At half the price per ounce, the TJ’s sui mai are smaller and more flavorful, with extra onion and soy added to the filling. TJ’s made the product suitable for vegetarians (not vegans) by omitting bonito from the surprisingly decent dipping sauce. With a dollop of my favorite hot sauce (a future post), I have a dim sum meal within minutes.