Tasting the Conspiracy, item L9: Mixed Vegetables

If it’s not clear what this is or why I’m doing it, check out the intro post.

This one is also ripped off mostly from my writeup of L5. I approached this one with trepidation because the idea of having another brown-sauce stirfry with no protein at all was kind of dispiriting, but, surprise! It had tofu to hang my hopes and dreams on!

Mixed Vegetables

Unlike Shrimp with Mixed Vegetable and Chicken with Mixed Vegetable, this one contains at least two vegetables which are mixed, what with being a plural and all.

What exactly is this dish? Lightly seared tofu in the usual brown sauce with a number of vegetables which might vary depending on what’s in stock; this particular incarnation has mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, cabbage, and bamboo shoots. This is a completely different veggie mix from both the chicken and shrimp mixed vegetable dishes, lending weight to the theory that “mixed vegetable” is an arbitrary potluck selection which changes regularly. There might be onion in there too, but if so it’s minced pretty fine.

How authentically Chinese is it? Much like beef with broccoli, this is a straightforward enough presentation I find it hard to imagine it’s not vaguely similar to some food eaten in China. The protein, vegetables, sauce, and cooking method are all pretty standard parts of the Chinese culinary toolset. I doubt I could match it onto a specific traditional food, because it seems like it’s of a piece with the standard “throw lots of stuff together according to a traditional cooking method” approach to non-fancy food that every cuisine has. I’d venture the Chinese version has a more flavorful sauce, probably with more ginger and garlic. Also, the Chinese are apparently not that big on dishes with a large variety of different vegetables, so a more traditional preparation would likely be pared down to a smaller selection of veggies. Seared is definitely a valid way to prepare tofu, for what it’s worth.

Is it any good? Much like the other mixed-vegetable dishess, it kind of hits a minimal interest level of having essential Chinese flavors without actually being distinguished enough to be a memorable experience in any way. I might’ve preferred a slightly crispier sear on the tofu, but I basically feel that anything less than a crunchy exterior on tofu tends to constitute wasted potential (I’ll make an exception for mapo doufu, which is supposed to have a soft soupiness). It’s an OK blend of textures and flavors although for my own personal tastes I would probably swap the mushrooms out for cabbage or something. I probably wouldn’t select this over the chicken or shrimp, but as a vegetarian offering it’s a pretty good incarnation of the form.

How does it complement the rice? The sauce was moderately moist; thinner than the chicken variant, maybe a bit thicker than with the shrimp? It didn’t quite stretch to flavor all of the rice, but it certainly kept eating the rice from being a dry slog.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

One Response to Tasting the Conspiracy, item L9: Mixed Vegetables

  1. Pingback: Tasting the Conspiracy, item L0: Introduction | The Ecclesiastical Revue

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