Fable XO noodles and choucroute
Of all the plant-based meat alternatives now jostling for our attention, one of the tastiest and most innovative has to be Fable. Using mainly shiitake mushrooms along with some tapioca flour, coconut oil, gluten-free soy sauce and salt and pepper, the Australian meat alternative masterminds at Fable Food Co have come up with a plant-based product with the texture and umami flavour of slow-cooked braised beef. It’s as delicious and satisfying as the real thing, but healthier for you and more sustainable for the planet.
Fable plant-based braised beef and ready meals are available at Coles, Woolies and Harris Farm Markets, and the product also launched into the foodservice market in Australia in December 2019 in partnership with UK superstar chef Heston Blumenthal. Blumenthal has Fable on the menu at his restaurants, including one Michelin-starred The Hind’s Head and The Perfectionists’ Café and Fable is also now used at more than 100 Australian restaurants and cafes. The product has also expanded into foodservice in Singapore venues.
To make your own Michelin star-worthy Fable feast, try these two recipes, including one from the legendary Blumenthal himself. But don’t let the big name faze you – while the culinary wizard is famous for complicated and intricate creations like Meat Fruit, the multi-sensory Sound of the Sea and the world’s most difficult dessert, the Botrytis Cinerea, this particular recipe is easy enough for anyone to master. Even us.
Fable XO noodles
They’re just two little letters, often denoting a hug and a kiss at the end of a birthday card or love note, but XO is actually named after XO cognac – where those letters stand for “extra old”. No matter the origin, it’s delicious and has become a cult favourite condiment on restaurant menus and in woks around the world.
This recipe will generously feed two people, yielding enough Fable XO for you to reserve half for another occasion. If cooking for four or five people, just double up on the noodles.
250g Fable, shredded and chopped/minced
300g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp chilli flakes, though adjust according to desired spice level
130ml rice bran oil (or other high smoking point oil like canola or peanut oil)
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1½ tsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cognac or brandy
2 tsp of rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1½ tsp Chinese five spice
½ tsp salt
200g wheat noodles – thin or flat, whatever makes you happy
Asian greens such as bok choi
Coriander and spring onion, finely for garnish
1. Blitz the shallots in a food processor and set aside.
2. Shred the Fable with your hands and then chop to get a mince-like texture.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots are caramelised and light brown.
4. Add the minced garlic, chilli flakes and Fable and cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add the soy, sugar, cognac, spice, salt, vinegar and sesame oil and cook for a few more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if you need. Transfer the Fable XO mixture into a bowl, reserving about a quarter in the pan.
6. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, rinse in cold water, then transfer to the saucepan with the Fable XO and mix through. Portion the noodles into bowls and top with more XO Fable. Garnish with coriander and spring onion and drizzle with a bit of a chilli oil, if you like it extra spicy.
7. Serve with lightly steamed Asian greens like bok choi or pak choi.
Note: remaining Fable XO can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.
Heston Blumenthal’s Fable choucroute
Choucroute is French for sauerkraut, and it sure sounds a hell of a lot fancier than “pickled cabbage”. This dish serves two to three people, and if you want to make more of a meal out of it, serve it with a side of potatoes and some good mustard.
10 whole juniper berries
60g unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
200g dry white wine
40g chardonnay vinegar
1 head of cabbage, halved, core removed and thickly sliced
2 tsp grapeseed oil
200g Fable plant-based mushroom meat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Toast the juniper berries in a hot, dry pan until fragrant. Lightly crush them using a pestle and mortar and tie the crushed berries securely in a little muslin.
2. Melt half the butter in a pan over low heat and add the onions and muslin parcel of crushed juniper berries. Cook until the onions have softened, but not coloured. Add the wine and cook until the wine reduces to a syrup-like consistency.
3. Remove pan from heat and remove and discard the muslin of juniper berries. Add vinegar, cabbage and two tablespoons of water to the pan – along with the remaining butter. Return the pan to the heat, cover with a lid, and cook for 5 minutes on moderate heat.
4. At the same time, heat grapeseed oil in a pan over high heat. Fry Fable pieces until coloured and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Stir the Fable through the cabbage mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving.