I am a low meat eater and wouldn't venture to be a complete vegetarian – though the Chinese New Year candy display at See’s (photo above) may convince me. In fact, tonight on the Tet Eve, I am cooking a crab and will use its meat for a cellophane noodle and crab dish tomorrow; the gin and creme de menthe on the rocks (a "Double Dragon") was the meatless part. I’m saying that I’m not going meatless for Tet tomorrow.
However, my friend Simon Bao has been contemplating how he and his partner will celebrate the Year of the Dragon without any ingredients from legged or finned animals. Vietnamese Buddhists who adhere to a strict vegetarian diet will be enjoying a vegetarian Tet menu. During Tet, it’s not good to take the life of another being, according to tradition. (For other Tet dos and don’ts, see this 2011 post from the People’s Army Newspaper in Hanoi; you know that it has to be officially sanctioned.)
This evening, Simon sent this message to relay what they’ll be eating tomorrow. My comments are in [brackets.] One of the cool things in Simon’s menu is how he thinks about delivering the savory umami-ness in foods. That’s among the flavors that make us feel satisfied during a meal. Simon’s meatless Tet menu: