Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

My buddy Nimah has been in town and finally made a little time to see Yuki and I Sunday night for dinner. His wife and brother were supposed to join us, but they both backed out. It’s nice to know where we stand on their totem pole (I’ll remember this Lora and Ramin!). At any rate, for the past couple of weeks all he’s been talking about was Smoque. “Yo Twig”. He’s been calling me Twig since high school. “How’s Smoque?” I just kept telling him that it’s hands down the best BBQ in Chicago, maybe even the best BBQ north of Mason-Dixon Line. It’s at least the best BBQ Brisket north of Texas. Honestly, I haven’t even eaten it’s equal in Texas, although I’ve only had a couple of BBQ Briskets there.

So he got there early, which is quite amazing. He’s notoriously late (no, he’s not pregnant, but he does have three testicles…all Iranians have three testicles, just ask him) and I’m notoriously punctual. We were supposed to meet at 7 and he got there at 6:40. I was just about to hop on the highway and he called. “Twig, there’s a friggin line down the street!”. That should have been a sign to him that I’m not the only one who thinks Smoque is the best. That worked well for us since he got to wait in line for us. When we showed up, it wasn’t too bad. They do a pretty good job of keeping the line moving.

He kept asking me what to order, and I kept telling him to get the sliced brisket sandwich. Honestly, that’s all I’ve ever gotten there other than the chili made with their brisket. I have to imagine that their ribs are pretty damn good too, but I’ve never had them. Always skeptical he asked one of the guys who works there. Of course, he said, “Get the brisket”. Just goes to show that I’m always right.

After about a half hour wait, not too bad, we ordered our food and got our seats. Besides sliced brisket they also do a chopped brisket. Yuki and I decided to try the chopped, so we got one of each and split them. I have to say, I think the chopped may even be better! You get more of the charred outside, and that has a ton of flavor. But, the sliced has more of the fat. You really can’t go wrong either way. All sandwiches come with a side of slaw. Theirs is nice because it’s just vinegar, no mayonnaise. That helps keep it light and helps you digest all of the delicious smoked carcass. I’m a mac’n’cheese guy, so I usually get that for my side. They have a great mac’n’cheese. Yuki got the fries. They cut their own potatoes and they keep the oil hot enough to cook them properly. Nimah got the baked beans. Simple BBQ beans, but their sauce makes them stand above the rest.

Oh, I should back up a bit in the story. While we were waiting for our food to be called at our seats one of the owners brought the people next to us some fresh made ginger cookies. I didn’t know why at the time (turns out they wanted some cobbler but Smoque was out, so they brought them some complimentary cookies) but anyone who knows me knows that I’m not shy. I said to the owner, “We have some problems with our food too, do we get cookies?” I was completely joking because we haven’t gotten our food yet. He said, “Sure, I’ll get you some cookies”. I told him I was just kidding, but he said they had more and it was no problem. Moral of that story, it pays to be an obnoxious extrovert with no shame!

Wanting to try their pulled pork, but only having one stomach each, Yuki and I brought a couple of sandwiches home for lunch today. Beautiful! Absolutely lovely. Every bit the brisket’s equal. Well, I think I’d still get the chopped brisket over the pulled pork, but there isn’t a better tasting pig-which in town! The cornbread also held up to a night in the fridge. It was relatively moist all things considered.

All in all, if you haven’t made it to Smoque yet then you really need to. That is unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan. In which case you and I must have a sit down. Vegetarian meals are important, but only on Meatless Monday. Every other day of the week Smoque makes a tasty and inexpensive option to fill your guts.

Read Full Post »

Another Meatless Monday in the books. I had some veggies and tofu I needed to use up so I made a vegetarian version of Mapo Tofu.

I chopped up half of an onion and sautéed it for a few minutes. Then I added a half-inch piece of ginger and two cloves of garlic, both grated. After a few minutes I threw in some green beans that I cut down to smaller pieces. A few more minutes and I added some diced baby eggplant  and some chopped mushrooms.

While that was all sautéing, in a hot skillet I poured in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil and scrambled two eggs. The hot oil cooks the eggs up nice and fluffy. Once they were almost finished I put them on a plate off to the side.

Back to my veggies. I seasoned with salt and a lot of freshly ground Sichuan Peppercorns, that’s what will give it the numbing burn you need with a good Mapo Tofu. Then I added about three tablespoons of water just to deglaze some of the garlic and ginger bits on the bottom of the pan. After that I added three or four tablespoons of soy sauce and a spoonful of Korean Chili Paste, any kind of chili paste will work for the most part.

Once the sauce was nicely mixed I added the scrambled egg making sure it was broken into smaller pieces. Finally, I added a block of diced silken tofu that I had drained the water from. To drain the water I lined a plate with a couple of paper towels, laid the tofu on top, then a couple more paper towels, a cutting board, and then something to weigh it down a little. That sat in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

When the tofu was coated with the sauce and heated through the dish was ready, about 5 more minutes. I simply served it with plain white rice and a cold beer. Oh, right before I served it I threw in some chopped parsley. I did this only because I had some in the fridge and thought it would add a nice freshness to all the spice. It did.

Read Full Post »