A Very Fine Vegetarian Thanksgiving Meal Kit

Miss Kim and Samesa offer a marvelous meatless meal

While turkey is the default for Thanksgiving dinners, a significant number of Americans don’t eat it. Though this history is rarely told, the U.S. has a long tradition of vegetarianism. Back in 1821, one William Metcalfe published a pamphlet in Philadelphia entitled, “On Abstinence from the Flesh of Animals.” There have been a lot of prominent vegetarians throughout American history. William Alcott—America’s first vegetarian physician—lived down the block from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord grape “inventor” Ephraim Bull, Graham cracker creator Protestant minister Sylvester Graham, and John Harvey Kellogg of . . . you know. In 1948, the American Vegetarian Party (for real) nominated Chicago restaurateur John Maxwell for President (he lost). Surveys say that about 5% of the American population are vegetarians, which translates into about 16,000,000 people.

With all that in mind, Miss Kim’s chef and managing partner Ji Hye Kim has joined forces with our guest chef Max Sussman of Samesa to come up with a terrific turkey-less, vegetarian meal kit for Thanksgiving. In the spirit of inclusion, you don’t need to be a vegetarian to buy one. All you have to do is love good food and be open to opting out of the mainstream way of eating the Thanksgiving meal. The two came to consensus around this combined offering. It’s kind of your typical Korean, American, Middle Eastern, Jewish vegetarian meal kit. Here’s a bit of what Ji Hye had in her head while working on this:

Before the pandemic hit us, Miss Kim was feasting a lot! Twice a month, to be exact, we’d hold a suckling pig feast or vegetarian feast, and we’d occasionally have guest chefs come in. Things are a bit different now, to say the least. A big feast doesn’t seem as enticing as it used to be. But I do miss the sharing of food and working with other chefs. So, when I heard that Max Sussman, the James Beard Award nominated chef/owner of Samesa, has closed Samesa and is back home in the Ann Arbor area, I invited him to do a pop up with us. This five-week Saturday lunch pop-up is almost coming to an end, but we decided that it would be fun to bring the feasts to your home with more unique Thanksgiving offerings. We’ll be offering really wild wild rice with dates, chestnuts, leeks and a trio of Miss Kim compound butter (gochujang butter, soy butter, and matcha seaweed butter); along with a bun kit with 5 spice pork belly or tofu (or take it plain and stuff the buns with leftover turkey).

Here’s what Max Sussman of Samesa had to say:

In 2010 I moved from Ann Arbor to New York to pursue a career as a chef. I spent 5 years working at some incredible restaurants (including Roberta’s & The Breslin), learned a lot, and worked with some amazing people. In 2016 my brother Eli and I joked that shawarma is to Southeast Michigan what pizza is to New York. You can find it everywhere from gas stations to white-tablecloth restaurants. That was the beginning of Samesa, our healthy, vegetarian-friendly, sustainably-sourced shawarma restaurant in Brooklyn. In January of 2020, my family and I returned back to Ann Arbor because we loved living here, loved the food scene, and wanted to be closer to family. The Samesa pop-up at Miss Kim has been so exciting. Collaborating with Ji Hye on the Thanksgiving menu is a really fun way to continue to introduce Ann Arbor to our flavors and style of cooking. Our chickpea seitan is a Samesa original—a vegetarian shawarma that even meat-eaters would love—a basic seitan recipe, tweaked with chickpeas and Moroccan spices. It’s so good that sometimes I even prefer it to the real thing!

You can order a dish or two off this list as single items to spice up your traditional Thanksgiving meal. Or you can order the whole menu for a non-traditional, delicious, and just-as-American Thanksgiving feast. We hope it brings a bit of the jovial festivity of Miss Kim feasts to your table.

Order your veggie family feast!