Mardi Gras has been over for a while now, so hopefully we’ve all dried out and collected ourselves a little. For the Catholics among us, that means Lent is here. Hooray! The season of quiet and solemn self-examination! For a long time, Catholics were forbidden from eating meat on Fridays during Lent, which incidentally is how the McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish was invented. The Vatican’s not so strict on that rule these days, but if you still keep to it and you don’t want to head to Micky D’s every weekend, we’ve picked out some of Baton Rouge’s best seafood and vegetarian options.
Drunken Fish: Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu with Spicy Bean Sauce
Drunken Fish is best known for its Vietnamese food and sushi, and there are plenty of great Lent-friendly options among those, but this dish is one of the menu’s hidden treasures. Originating in the Sichuan province of China, home of the world’s spiciest cuisine, this dish consists of squares of tofu with carrot, broccoli and pepper, sauteed in a spicy red bean sauce. Even if tofu turns you off, this one’s worth a try just to experience the unusual numbing and spicy flavor that makes Sichuan cooking so distinctive.
Sammy’s Grill: Seafood Double Combo
Lent might be the season of discipline and repentance, but you’re still allowed to enjoy yourself a little, right? When you feel like starting the weekend early while still keeping good with the man upstairs, Sammy’s has you covered. We tried a fried seafood plate with shrimp and stuffed crab, served with french fries and a salad. Who said the good times have to stop rolling after Mardi Gras?
The Salad Shop: Fiery Fiesta & Hanley’s Hookup
As the weather warms up, there’s nothing like a cool, fresh salad lunch to keep you light on your feet. We sampled two of the Salad Shop’s meat-free options. The Fiery Fiesta, served with avocado, pico de gallo, corn and tortilla strips, is a healthy, filling, Mexican-influenced choice. The Hanley’s Hookup, pictured here, is a new addition to the menu in January. It pairs chickpeas, feta cheese, banana peppers and kalamata olives with avocado dressing from Prairieville, Louisiana-based Hanley’s Foods.
Photos by Sean Gasser.