View Full Version : Substitute for Vanilla Beans

05-18-2004, 07:54 AM
I would love to try this recipe but don't want to get vanilla beans. My sense is that the beans add a subtle undertone. Is there anything that could be substituted - i.e. a minute amount of vanilla extract or should I just move on to another recipe.

Fish in Paper Parcels with Leeks, Fennel, Chives, and Vanilla

From Cooking Light

The delicate flavor of chives works well with fish, and we loved the aroma and subtle flavor imparted by the vanilla beans. This is an excellent dish for entertaining; you can prepare it in advance, store it in the refrigerator, then pop it in the oven. Substitute fillets of salmon, bass, haddock, or mullet for the red snapper.

6  (6-ounce) red snapper or other firm whitefish fillets
3/4  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
2 1/2  cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
2 1/2  cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 2 small bulbs)
2 1/2  cups (2-inch) julienne-cut carrot
1/2  cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1  tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/4  cup chopped fresh chives, divided
2  tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
3  (6-inch) vanilla beans, split lengthwise and halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400°.

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add leek, fennel, and carrot; sauté 4 minutes or until carrot is crisp-tender. Add broth and soy sauce; cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in 3 tablespoons chives and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Cut 6 (14-inch) squares of parchment paper. Fold each square in half; open each. Place 1 cup vegetable mixture near fold of each paper. Place 1 fish fillet on top of vegetable mixture; top with 1/2 teaspoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 2 pieces vanilla bean. Fold paper; seal edges with narrow folds. Place packets on each of 2 baking sheets.

Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned, rotating baking sheets after 9 minutes. Place on plates, and cut open. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

CALORIES 271 (9% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat  0.5g,  mono 0.4g,  poly 1g); PROTEIN 38.1g;  CARB 23.2g;  FIBER 6g;  CHOL 63mg;  IRON 2.6mg;  SODIUM 610mg;  CALC 153mg; 

Cooking Light, APRIL 2003

05-18-2004, 08:32 AM
I have never used vanilla beans in a savory dish, but this recipe makes me want to try! Thanks for posting it.

I'm not sure about subbing extract for the beans; I'm sure someone else will chime in. Can I ask why you don't want to use the beans? I'm assuming it's because of the cost, you don't have it on hand, etc.

05-18-2004, 09:34 AM
Well they are incredibly expensive and I only need a tiny amount so I would be stuck with the rest. I don't do that much baking so I would have to wait for an occasion to bake and then FIND a recipe that required vanilla beans.

Years ago, I had duck with a vanilla bean sauce in an expensive Nouvelle Cuisine restaurant and it was great.

05-18-2004, 09:38 AM
In my local supermarket, vanilla beans are sold by the piece (that is, there's only one bean in each jar) so if the issue is worry about being stuck with extra, you might not have that problem. I would not sub the extract though.

05-18-2004, 10:17 AM
3 vanilla beans is quite a lot of vanilla flavour...not sure if adding extract would change the recipe...if you do decide to sub with extract, the best bet is double intensity extract which would probably cost you a bit anyways.

05-18-2004, 10:25 AM
I wasn't planning to make it for 6. It looks like a great dish for one or two. There is a more traditional skinless salmon recipe with oranges, carrots and scallions that I make a lot because of the ease of making individual servings.

05-18-2004, 04:05 PM
Well this dish is on hold for awhile - ONE vanilla bean is $16.99 at the supermarket. I think I would rather have lobster:D

05-18-2004, 04:18 PM
If you wanted to go back to the extract idea, I found this on foodsubs but I don't know how 18 tsps of extract would work (or cost) in the recipe

vanilla extract = pure vanilla extract = natural vanilla extract Pronunciation: vah-NILL-uh Notes: Vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans that have been steeped in alcohol. It's widely used throughout the world to flavor desserts, like baked goods, ice cream, beverages, and custards, but some chefs use it as a secret ingredient in savory dishes as well. Pure extracts made with vanilla from the Bourbon Islands, which include Madagascar, is especially well-regarded. Mexican vanilla extract is also excellent, and even more potent, but it's sometimes adulterated with a dangerous food additive that's banned by the FDA. Look for vanilla extract among the baking supplies in your supermarket. To make your own: Cut two fresh (moist and pliable) vanilla beans into small pieces and put them in a small, clean jar. Pour vodka, brandy, or light rum into the jar until the vanilla is completely covered. Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid, allow the mixture to steep for about at least a month, then strain out the beans using cheesecloth or a coffee filter. The result won't be as strong as commercial extracts, so use more. Substitutes: vanilla powder (use half as much) OR vanilla bean (Extract the flavor by scraping out the seeds and putting them and the vanilla pod into a liquid that's used in the recipe and let it simmer awhile. When the liquid has been infused with vanilla flavor, remove the pod. One inch of fresh vanilla bean = one teaspoon extract. Use a longer piece of vanilla if it's not fresh.) OR imitation vanilla extract (This may be less potent than pure vanilla extract, so you may need to use more.) OR Kosher vanilla sugar (for Passover) OR vanilla-flavored liqueur (1 teaspoon extract = 1 tablespoon liqueur) OR almond liqueur (1 teaspoon extract = 1 tablespoon liqueur) OR rum (1 teaspoon extract = 1 tablespoon rum) OR almond extract (use less) OR peppermint extract (use 1/8 as much)

05-18-2004, 05:00 PM
I bought a small jar containing 2 vanilla beans at Trader Joe's for about $6 a while back. I think they still carry the beans. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, that may be an option.

05-18-2004, 05:25 PM
I was just at my little corner market and they had a jar of vanilla beans for $8.25. Looked to be at least 4 beans.

05-19-2004, 06:52 AM
Originally posted by Vicanddi
I bought a small jar containing 2 vanilla beans at Trader Joe's for about $6 a while back. I think they still carry the beans. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, that may be an option.

Yikes! I bought a jar with three beans at the TJs in Danbury, CT on Sunday, and they were only $3.99!