Category: Vegetarian/Vegan

Ah yes, the bug-monkey meatballs again. Or is it monkey-bug? For a creature we made up ourselves we sure don’t know anything about it. This week we’re bringing you another version of these little cocktail appetizers. This time they’re made out of mushrooms and lentils. And before you even say “but I don’t like mushrooms” know that once they’re minced, fried, and mixed in you can’t tell they’re there. We promise! A few of our squad mates down right hate mushrooms, but love these.

Faux Bug-Monkey Meatballs

 

These little meat-less balls are similar to our original Bug-Monkey Meatballs, with a few differences. The biggest is a base of lentils and mushrooms instead of pork and fish. Since the lentils and mushrooms are on the softer side there’s also less soy sauce with more cornstarch and breadcrumbs to help them bind together. Because the mixture is a bit softer they are also baked instead of pan fried. The sauce is almost the same with the exception of the removal of the fish sauce and extra soy sauce to compensate for it.

 

Ingredients. Piled artistically. Because we could.

 

The lentils are first cooked in vegetable stock and liquid smoke to give them some extra flavor. Once they’re soft and all the liquid has been absorbed three-fourths get pureed in a food processor. Pureeing some of the lentils creates a base that is easy to form and binds well, while keeping some of the lentils whole gives the “meat”balls more texture so they don’t end up mushy.

 

Then mushrooms are cooked in a mixture of vegetable oil and coconut oil. The coconut oil will firm up while the mixture rests in the fridge and make these easier to roll into balls, but will melt when cooked and help keep things “juicy”. Once all the moisture from the mushrooms has cooked out and they become crispy we add the garlic and ginger for a minute to release their flavor.

 

“Meat”ball mixture

 

Everything is then mixed together and put in the fridge for an hour. This rest time lets the coconut oil solidify. Towards the end of the rest time preheat the oven. We tried pan frying these, like the original Bug-Monkey Meatballs, and it did not work well. The softer mix didn’t hold up and they fell apart. If you are set on pan frying these and are fine with them not being vegan you can add an egg to help create a tighter bind.

 

“Meat”balls on the baking tray.

Use about a tablespoon of filling and roll into little balls. Make sure you line your baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Don’t use tin foil. These little suckers will stick to the foil.  Bake for 30 minutes, flipping them around every 10 minutes.

 

While they bake, make the sauce. It’s almost exactly the same as the sauce from the original recipe, except you’ll use the pan the mushrooms were cooked in and extra soy sauce instead of fish sauce.

 

Once the sauce is done and the balls are baked combine them, place in a bowl (We understand if your bowl isn’t square and fuzzy. We ourselves could only get a square bowl), garnish with green onions, and serve!

 

Faux-Bug-Monkey Meatballs with toothpicks!

 

Faux Bug-Monkey Meatballs

1 cup green or brown lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil; divided use
3 tablespoons coconut oil; divided use
8 ounces cremini mushrooms; minced
4 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
4 tablespoons Chinese garlic chives, finely chopped (or a mix of the green part of scallions and regular chives)
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Prepare lentils by rinsing them and adding to a pot with the vegetable stock and liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat down and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium heat in a medium sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have lost all moisture and have become crispy. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Add 3/4 of the lentils to a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms. Pour into a large bowl, along with the reserved lentils, the cooked mushroom mix, chives, peppercorns, salt, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, breadcrumbs, and the remaining vegetable oil and coconut oil. Stir thoroughly to combine.

Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Form into small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each. Place the meatballs on a parchment or sil-pat lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the balls every 10 minutes.

 

For the sauce:

1 clove minced garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
3/4 cup vegetable stock or water
3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Cornstarch slurry (2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved into 1 tablespoon water)

To the skillet the mushrooms were cooked in, add the garlic, red peppers flakes, and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir for about 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the vegetable stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Stir to combine, making sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet left from the meatballs. Bring to a simmer.

Add the cornstarch slurry and continue to simmer for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Add the meatballs to the sauce, and stir to coat them.

Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with toothpicks.

 

The opening scene of our recent Jedi Adventures arc features the Jedi eating noodles at a street vendor on Coruscant. For these noodles we wanted a fast and easy recipe, since these would have needed to be dished out quickly as people ordered them. The sauce requires no cooking and can be made while the water for the noodles are boiling.

Noodles, with extra sambal oelek for serving

 

These noodles are seriously delicious and so easy. They’re great for weeknight dinners when you want something fast with as little effort as possible. They are also quite tasty cold, making them wonderful to pack for lunch.

 

Noodles!

 

The sauce is rich, creamy, and just a little spicy. It starts with sesame paste (sometimes called tahini) and peanut butter. Together these create the rich, luscious base of the sauce. Soy sauce and rice vinegar are added for flavor, sugar for a touch of sweetness, and sambal oelek for just a bit of heat. Then hot vegetable broth is added to thin out the sauce.

 

 

Tabletop One’s Tips:

  • Almost any type of round, Asian noodles work for this dish.
    • At normal grocery stores, look for fresh noodles in the Asian section. They will often have vacuum-sealed packets of noodles.
    • If buying dried noodles, look for “white noodles”; noodles made with white flour instead of semolina. Italian pasta is made with semolina wheat flour, which gives it its distinctive yellow color, but imparts a flavor that is not ideal for this dish.
  • Tahini can be found either with the other nut butters, or the “international” aisle, specifically the Greek or Mediterranean section.
  • Sambal oelek is a Southeast Asian chili paste and can usually be found where ever your store sells sriracha (probably the most famous maker of sriracha, Huy Fong, also makes a sambal oelek. It also has a rooster on the jar.)
  • This recipe is easily scaled up to make more than one serving.

 

Coruscant Street Noodles [serves 1]

6 ounces fresh wheat noodles (or 3 ounces of dried noodles)
1 tablespoon sesame paste/tahini
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup hot vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped green onions

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package.

While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce by combining the remaining ingredients, except the green onions. Stir until it forms a smooth, even sauce.

When the noodles are cooked, drain them and toss with the sauce, and place into a bowl.

Top with the chopped green onions and serve immediately.

 

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