Curried Noodles - Vegan, Gluten-Free, Kosher

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

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If you are looking for a suitable alternative to wheat-based pasta, then Asian rice noodles are an excellent choice. They are extremely easy to make, which is why they are the most common rice product used in Asian countries. You just soak them for a short period in boiling water removed from the heat. They make most brands with just rice flour and water with no other preservatives or additives that might add the risk of hidden gluten. This also means that it is easy to find brands that are certified vegan and kosher and gluten-free.

Rice noodles come in different widths from very thin to wide. For this dish, you will need thin noodles, which may be called vermicelli or rice stick noodles. One brand I love especially for this dish is Osha Rice Vermicelli. One reason I prefer this product is that it doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it won’t alter the taste of whatever dish you are making. The mild-tasting noodles take on the flavor of the food and this makes them great to use with all kinds of sauces or to add to favorite soups. They hold together well as opposed to some brands which tend to fall apart if cooked even a bit too long so you can use them in dishes cooked at high heat such as stir-fry.

Osha rice vermicelli is fat-free and trans-fat-free which is an added bonus for health. They are under the kashrut supervision of MK of Manchester & Bais Din Beit Yosef of R’ Oivadiya Yosef and are certified Kosher for Passover (kitniyot) and all year round. If choosing another brand make sure to see that they are certified gluten-free as some rice noodles have a small amount of wheat flour added for consistency.

Recipe

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces thin rice noodles
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (vegetable oil may be substituted)
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, cut into thin strips
  • 2 scallions, cut into ½-inch pieces (discard the bulb)
  • ½ carton fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (can use store-bought in the jar)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (can use store-bought in the jar)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free, kosher soy sauce
  • ½ cup crushed peanuts to sprinkle on top (optional)
  • Juice from half a lime

Instructions:

  1. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain and cut in half.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add red and yellow pepper strips and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add white or yellow onion, scallions, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add curry powder and crushed red pepper and stir for 1 minute
  5. Add vegetable broth and soy sauce and stir for 2 minutes.
  6. Add noodles and stir for 3 minutes or until heated all the way through.
  7. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime over the dish, transfer to plates, garnish with peanuts if you choose, and serve.

Wine Pairings

If you want a wine that tones down the spiciness of the red pepper then there are several wines you might like. Try a slightly sweet white blend, with a hint of floral, such as a Chardonnay–Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio blend. If you want another wine that will help decrease the effect of the spices try a fruity rose, an off-dry riesling, or a sweetly aromatic Gewürztraminer. For those who want to play up the heat of the dish, a young Chardonnay or spicy Shiraz will make your tongue sizzle.

There are several vegan Kosher for Passover (i.e. gluten-free) wines available year-round. One good winery that produces kosher, gluten-free, vegan wine is Hafner Family Estate. Hafner produces a number of Kosher for Passover wines that are also vegan friendly, including several of the ones listed above. The vegan varieties are produced under the parent label, Hafner, as well as under the Queen Esther label. In particular, Hafner label wines that go well with this dish include a sweet, semi-dry Fermint-White Riesling and there are a nice floral Pinot Grigio and a light Shiraz under the Queen Esther label.

Types of Kosher Wines

There are different types of designations for kosher wine. These are listed below.

  • Certified Kosher - These wines are produced in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. No animal products including milk are used in making or bottling these wines though small amounts of egg may be used in the refining process.
  • Certified Kosher For Passover - These wines are made in accordance with Jewish dietary laws and haven’t come into contact with wheat and other types of grain or any leavened products. Most kosher wines are also certified Kosher for Passover which makes them a good choice for those observing a gluten-free diet whether you keep kosher or not.
  • Certified Kosher Le Mehadrin - This designation means that the Jewish dietary laws have been stringently followed and this has been documented by an appropriate authority. There are Mehadrin wines that are also Kosher for Passover
  • Certified Mevushal - These wines are flash pasteurized during their production. Overall, because of this, many people find Mevushal wines to be of lower quality than non - mevushal wines.
  • Sacramental - Although not an official Kashrut classification, sacramental wine is often used in religious ceremonies such as when saying the blessing over the wine on the Sabbath and holidays. These wines are often very sweet and not of very good quality so they are not typically drunk as table wines. Manaschevets is probably the most well-known type of kosher sacramental wine.

What Makes Wine Vegan?

Wine is clarified through a process termed ‘fining’. Young wines have a murkiness to them made up of small particles of proteins, tannin, and other molecules. While not harmful these particles make the wine’s appearance less attractive. If left alone long enough, most will self-fine. But some winemakers use products to speed up the fining process. The products act as a magnet, attracting undesirable particles and fusing them into larger particles that are easier to remove.

The most frequently used fining products are casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein), and isinglass (protein from a fish bladder). It is assumed that these products are removed with the particles they have been used to bind but there may be some of the fining ingredients that have been absorbed by the wine.

While no animal products can be used when fining kosher wine, on occasion, egg whites are still used which isn’t a problem usually for vegetarians but is for vegans. Vegans should make sure that a wine is labeled as vegan to ensure that no objectionable ingredients have been used in its production.

Are All Kosher Wines Vegan?

There has been a great deal of discussion to clarify what ingredients are used when producing kosher wine. There are some who say that all kosher wines are, in fact, vegan but this is incorrect. While there can be no animal products used when producing them and isinglass comes from a non-kosher fish and thus can't be used, sometimes egg whites are used as a fining agent.

Unfortunately, there is no push to label kosher wines as vegan and while a few are labeled this way, many which actually are vegan are not labeled as such. It is believed by most who work in the kosher wine industry that such labeling practices are unnecessary. This is because almost all of the fining agents are filtered out of the final product, and therefore they consider the wine to be vegan. However, as minute traces remain this is a problem for vegans.

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