Going Vegan for 30 Days and Grapefruit Brulee

After a week of gluttony in NYC during the week of Christmas [oh, who am I kidding, it was really a month of gluttony], we realized during the last few days of our trip that we never consumed anything “green.” We ate our way through Manhattan and had some of the most amazing foods ever, but it was all “brown” as my partner would say. It was true. We had yakitori meat skewers, steamed mussels, bagels and lox, Korean food, xiao long baos, roast duck over rice and roast duck noodle soup, Indian meat curries, Cuban food, pastrami reuben sandwich, and more. So before we left NYC, we made a pact to go vegan to detox from the Holidays for 30 days.

I’m happy to report that we are 16 days into it and still going strong. There are days where we are madly craving sushi or a cheeseburger [or both :)], but the urges haven’t been as bad as I thought they would be. I’ve been trolling the food porn websites and I’m queuing up all the meat recipes to try as soon as we’re done with this detox diet.

Before this diet, I was always interested in cooking with the vegan “meats,” but I made excuses that I would do it tomorrow, and that would get pushed to the next day, and so on and so forth. Well, I’ve been experimenting with different seitan recipes and it’s been really fun and challenging. We’ve incorporated plenty of “greens” to our diet since we started this. And let me just say, we feel so much lighter, less bloated, and more energetic. My partner who usually consumes 6-8 cups of coffee a day, has cut down her coffee intake to about 2 cups a day, which means more $$$ saved from the frequent trips to Starbucks in the middle of the day! Seriously though, we feel much healthier since starting this diet. And I think we’ve even lost some weight, which is always good news :)

As we are more than halfway into our veganism, we were discussing what we want to do after we finish this diet. Our first idea was to celebrate with a HUGE sushi/sashimi dinner, followed by a greasy cheeseburger. [Although, I do worry how that's going to sit in our stomachs after not having meats for a month.] But I think we’d like to keep up this veganism on an every other week basis because we do feel better.

Anyway, I was really craving pancakes, bacon, and hash browns for breakfast this morning when I woke up. But I made grapefruit brulee instead because it was the right thing to do :)

Grapefruit Brulee

2 red grapefruits, halved crosswise
White sugar
Kitchen torch

Remove all the seeds from the grapefruit, and cut the segments with a knife so that it’s easier to scoop out. [I never knew to cut the segments with a knife until recently when my partner said that's the way people eat grapefruit.  All this time up until now, I always struggled with eating grapefruits and actually gave up eating them because it was "too much work."]

Sprinkle each half evenly with sugar. Melt the sugar with the blowtorch until the sugar becomes golden brown and crispy.

Grapefruit “broilee”

If you don’t have a kitchen torch, turn the oven to the broiler mode. Place the halved grapefruits with sugar under the broiler for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar has melted to a golden brown crispy surface.

Do Chua (Pickled Carrots and Daikon)

I love all things pickled, especially Korean pickled ban chan.  Well, maybe not all pickled stuff, but most things.  You get the point.  I grew up watching my Mom pickling vegetables… from kim chee to pickled garlic.  But never learned or had the interest until recently.  When I wanted to make banh mis for dinner one night, I was a little worried about finding pickled carrots and daikon only because I KNEW I wouldn’t be able to find it pre-canned.  So I perused through many recipes and finally decided on one.  I don’t know why I chose the one I did, but I’m sure glad I did because the daikon to carrot ratio is 2:1.

Why do I care about the daikon to carrot ratio?  Well, if you haven’t read it already in my banh mi post, I grew up NOT liking carrots.  In fact, I detested carrots while growing up.  I would gag if there was a piece of carrot touching the rest of my food.  If there was shredded carrots mixed in with something else, I simply just wouldn’t eat it.  However, I am slowly coming around.  I’ll eat stewed carrots and pickled carrots.  But if you tried to give me raw carrots, well, we can just forget about being friends.  Drama queen.  I know.  But that’s how much I hate raw carrots in its natural form.  Anyhow, to make the long story short, the desire of wanting to pickle carrots was a whole new world to me.

I knew I had to marinate the carrots and daikon in the pickling solution for at least an hour, so I made my way to Whole Foods hours before dinner.  I got home and started cutting my carrots and daikon into “thick matchsticks.”  This part of the process was exhausting as I hovered over the chopping board cutting, while trying not to slice my hand.  At one point, my right hand (the chopping hand) started to tingle with some numbness, almost like carpal tunnel syndrome.  But I mustered through it and had a full bowl of matchstick-sized daikon and carrots ready for pickling!

Do Chua (adapted from Viet World Kitchen)

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 pound daikon, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup warm water

In a bowl, combine the half cup of sugar, vinegar, and water and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Place the carrot and daikons in a colander and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar.  Mix the sugar and salt mixture into the vegetables, and let it sit for a few minutes to soften.  Use your hands to knead the vegetables.  Stop kneading when you can bend a piece of daikon so that the ends touch but the daikon does not break.  The vegetables should have lost about one-fourth of its water volume.  Rinse under cold running water, and then gently squeeze to expel extra water.

Place carrots and daikon in a bowl and pour the pickling solution over the vegetables. The solution should cover the vegetables.  Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating.  They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.  Beyond that point, they get tired.

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