I recently stumbled upon yet another Asian ingredient that I’ve decided is a must-have for the vegan kitchen: umeboshi paste.
Umeboshi, or pickled ume ‘plums’, are traditionally served in Japan as an accompaniment for rice. In paste form, umeboshi is intense, salty, fruity, and complex.
Umeboshi paste is a great way to add umami to vegan and vegetarian dishes, and can also be used to replace anchovies, fish paste, or fish sauce in recipes. For this reason, it’s a go-to ingredient for chefs at vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
Although I’d known about umeboshi paste for sometime now, I couldn’t find a brand that didn’t have high-fructose corn syrup or other questionable ingredients. After months of searching global food stores and Asian markets, I finally found two versions with no additives (at my local food co-op, of all places): Emperor’s Kitchen and Eden Foods.
Lately I’ve been using umeboshi paste as a substitute for fish sauce in Thai curry recipes.
I’ve also been using it to make a vegan version of the classic Provençal anchovy vinaigrette. Just whisk together one tablespoon of umeboshi paste, one tablespoon of whole-grain or Dijon mustard, three minced cloves of garlic, two teaspoons of agave nectar, six tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and sea salt. This dressing is delicious on frisée or celery salads.