While I didn’t make any resolutions for the New Year, one thing I am trying to improve in the kitchen is to become more flexible. Rob is good about perfecting a few key recipes or whipping up impromptu stir-fries whereas I prefer to keep trying something new. I realize this isn’t the most sustainable practice when life gets busy, so I am looking more into sauces that make the dish along with an assortment of vegetables with a grain or bean.
In this case, the sauce is a toasted sesame orange teriyaki sauce from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. It was easy to put together, and with freshly squeezed orange juice, the orange flavour was light, not dominant or ooky sweet. It can’t really compete with my salmon teriyaki, but it is nice in its own regard.
Tess suggests serving the sauce with a stir fry of veggies including garlic-infused shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage and carrot along with tamari-marinated baked tofu and rice. I added in some cauliflower to make up for my lack of broccoli and substituted quinoa for the rice (see, I am becoming flexible…). A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds seals the deal for this simple weeknight meal. Use any combination of vegetables with your favourite grain, top with this teriyaki sauce and you have a fool-proof dinner. You could also stir-fry your veggies with the teriyaki sauce but I preferred its bright flavours as a sauce.
I know this looks like a daunting recipe, but once you make the components – a big batch of quinoa (or your favourite grain), the teriyaki sauce, the baked tofu, and chopped veggies, you can easily whip up a quick weeknight dinner.
It all started when I basically made my own tahini with freshly roasted sesame seeds to go with sauteed spinach for Terry’s oshitashi recipe (Sesame Wow Greens). So good, yet so simple.
Then, I discovered tahini heaven. I had heard that tahini could taste so good that one could eat it straight from the jar. Not so with my previous brand. But now I am a tahini-convert after spreading my way through Prince’s tahini: smooth, rich and creamy with a deep sesame flavour. I love it! I want to eat it with everything! I honestly wonder if I should try out Deb’s Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad again (I found it too bitter the first time) because my tahini was probably at fault.
This time, I went heavy with the tahini. I spotted this recipe in The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East (recipe here) and thought 1/3 cup of tahini would be great simmered with tempeh and green beans. I liked it but it wasn’t as sesame heavy as I was anticipating. The dressing, of course, also had lemon juice, broth, tamari and mirin, creating a more complex flavour palate. Nice and light, and quite soupy, too, and easy to put together. The tempeh was a bit more meaty and juicy because I pre-steamed it, dry-fried it to lock in the shape and then simmered in the sesame broth. The green beans were a perfect match. Serve with quinoa so that you can savour this down to the last drop of sauce.
Barring hummus, what is your favourite way to use tahini?
Here are some other tahini recipes I’ve had my eye on:
Miso Tahini Magic Sauce from Fresh Young Coconut
Smoky Red Pepper, Chickpea and Tahini Dressing from Choosing Raw
Miso Sesame Dressing from Choosing Raw
Low-Fat Tahini-Chickpea Dressing from Fat Free Vegan
Orange-Miso-Tahini Gravy from My New Roots
Carrot Ginger Tahini Soup from Kahakai Kitchen
Beet, Tahini and Pomegranate Dip (Mama Dall’ou’ah) from Taste of Beirut
Roasted Carrot Hummus from Enlightened Cooking
Tofu Tahini Scramble from Choosing Raw
Burnt Eggplant with Tahini and Pomegrante from Ottolenghi
Noodles with a Lemon-Miso-Tahini Sauce from ExtraVeganZa
Tangy Tahini Noodles with Tempeh and Vegetables from Julia’s Vegan Kitchen
Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum
Creamy Kale Soup with Tahini from Vegan Yum Yum
Quinoa Pilaf with Spiced Miso Tahini Sauce from Sweet Potato Soul
Spinach, Chickpea and Tahini Soup from Soup Chick
When reflecting on my top meals of the year, I had a hard time picking my favourites. Did I want to highlight the easy weeknight meals, or the more elaborate concoctions? Taste was number one on my mind, and I have had great successes in my kitchen this year.
My secret? Great recipes but most importantly fresh ingredients. It’s the fresh lemon juice, the garlic cloves and the vegetables. The beans cooked from scratch. I still scour the flyers on a weekly basis, but Sunny’s is my go-to grocer, as the produce is fresh and always reasonably priced. The fresh herbs from my garden were also a huge flavour boost this summer. I never knew I loved thyme so much until I wiped my plant clean before the winter. Rob’s chili plant also provided us with tons of chilis, which we subsequently dried this fall.
While I am still a weakling with regards to chilis and peppers, my tolerance towards garlic has definitely increased over the year. When I made the 15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles for my family, they commented on the strong garlic flavour. They enjoyed it but weren’t used to the garlic. For me, it was perfect with 5 cloves of raw garlic, and I really had to think about it before the garlic registered. I didn’t even bat an eye when I used 6 cloves of raw garlic in the Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Salad, 8 (pan-fried) cloves of garlic for The New Best Salad Ever, 10 cloves of (roasted) garlic with broccoli and chickpeas, 14 cloves of raw and roasted with this Spanish stew, or a whole 1/3 cup (12 cloves) with my baked beans. I love my garlic.
Tess‘ recipes introduced me to meals with fresh citrus juice and lots of garlic. I go through garlic so fast that I can buy the package with 40-50 pre-peeled garlic cloves before it goes bad. I also can easily stock up on lemons and limes and need frequent replenishment (whereas a year ago, sometimes I would use the limes to clean my pots!). I honestly feel like this has been a blessing to my cooking – the flavours really pop. Fresh lemon juice makes a world of difference compared to the bottled stuff.
I always plan out a week’s worth of meals, cooking them on a weekend, usually opting for a bean dish, a grain dish and either a soup or salad. I also try to make sure I don’t go too long without a recipe from Tess! Sometimes I go into Tess recipe withdrawal.
My Mom warned me that I might start to smell like garlic if I eat too much raw garlic. She didn’t mean my breath, rather my sweat.
This time, when I picked another highly-rated recipe from Tess, her Asian Kale Salad from The Two Week Wellness Solution (recipe also here), I erred on the side of caution: I decreased the agave, ginger and garlic (sacrilegious, I know!) while increasing the lime juice and omitting the orange juice. Adding edamame made this into a delicious main-course salad. There was a perfect merriment of flavours with a zippy and sweet dressing with the earthy kale and creamy edamame.
To be fair, no one has ever said I smell like garlic – certainly not from my pores.. garlic breath, perhaps? So, have no fear and increase the garlic to your tummy’s and heart’s content!
Pan-Seared King Oyster Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy in a Coconut Tamarind Sauce with a Caramelized Leek and Wasabi Millet Mash
Sorry about the lack of diversity in my month of cruciferous vegetables. I know what it must look like to you: lots of broccoli, some kale with a bit of daikon and baby bok choy. Actually it looked like this: kale, daikon, broccoli, kale, broccoli, broccoli, kale, broccoli, baby bok choy and broccoli, and broccoli with a side of Napa cabbage. I’ll be honest: broccoli was on sale. A few weeks in a row. I’ll try to make my next few posts with different cruciferous veggies.
Which cruciferous vegetables are in this meal? Check all that apply.
b. baby bok choy
d. king oyster mushroom
Have a headache yet? Flashback to an undergrad midterm? SORRY!
I just want you to know your cruciferous veggies..
Don’t be fooled. The answers are baby bok choy, cauliflower and WASABI! Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable but not in this recipe (sad, I know). King oyster mushrooms, leeks and tamarind are not cruciferous vegetables, but still good! While there is a mash here, there are no potatoes in this recipe!
Did you know that wasabi is a cruciferous vegetable? Thought it only came in powder form? Well, wasabi is actually a root vegetable. When I visited Japan, I visited the Daiõ Wasabi Farm outside Hotaka, which is the largest wasabi farm in the world. Not only were there fields upon fields of growing wasabi (pic above), they also had the roots for sale along with other wasabi treats like wasabi soup, wasabi soba noodles, wasabi wine, wasabi lollipops and my favourite: wasabi ice cream! I was a spice novice at that time, and still loved it: the spicy wasabi was off-set by lots of sweetness. The ice cream had a mild background of wasabi and vanilla perhaps, but lovely at the same time.
Sadly, wasabi is difficult to grow and thus expensive. Outside Japan, wasabi is commonly substituted with (cheaper) horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. Have no fear, Eden sells genuine wasabi powder. And yes, Sunny’s sells it for half the price of The Big Carrot.
This meal, which is actually 2 recipes, must have the longest name of anything on this blog so far. These long descriptive names are what have me drooling at restaurants, so I love to point of all the nuances of my dishes, too. The longer the name, the longer the ingredient list, and thus probably the longer it took me to make this. Denis Cotter loves to make multi-component meals, and this is no exception. Adapted from his recipe in For the Love of Food, I increased the vegetables, especially the baby bok choy and decreased the coconut milk. Meaty king oyster mushrooms were pan-fried in coconut oil then stir-fried with ginger and the baby bok choy. A light tangy broth with tamarind and coconut milk rounded out the sauce and offered a nice contrast in flavours.
As an Irishman, Cotter adores potatoes and served this with mashed potatoes spiced with caramelized leeks and wasabi.
I opted to try a different a kind of mash: the monster mash.
I mean, the millet mash. With cauliflower. And caramelized leeks and wasabi, as per Cotter.
The cauliflower millet mash is courtesy of Sarah, and while it doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes, it has a creaminess akin to mashed potatoes. As a blank slate, it can take any flavours you throw at it, including the subtly sweet caramelized leeks and the spicy wasabi. Juxtaposed next to the tangy coconut broth with the vegetables, you have a crazy concoction of cruciferous vegetables.
I live in the largest city in Canada, with a population of 2.5 million, and my favourite restaurant is in a town with only 100,000 people. I’ve only been to Thrive Juice Bar once but it was enough to have me hooked. Sadly, the commute kills me. They aren’t open late on Saturdays, and not open at all on Sundays, which makes it hard to visit.
I really liked their pad thai which was overflowing with Asian vegetables topped with a spicy cashew sauce, with a raw option to replace the rice noodles with even more veggies! The menu says it is filled with daikon radish, snap peas, bok choy, Asian cabbage with a raw cashew pad thai sauce, topped with spicy peanuts and cashews, Thai basil and Thai mint (??), while finished with an almond chili oil and mint lime vinaigrette. Wowzers, eh? I am not even going to try to recreate it home because it seems so complex.
I will, however, try out something more simple. Something just as tasty, even though it was not at all the same. But it definitely made me go Mmmmmm! Yes, I made MamaPea’s infamous Peanut Mmmm Sauce!
Inspired by Thrive, I loaded my dish up with veggies: a huge bunch of baby bok choy, 2 red peppers, broccoli and edamame. For my noodles, I opted for kelp noodles, but feel free to use soba instead. Or as they used to do at Thrive, add more veggies! (Scanning their recent menu, it now seems that the raw option is to add kelp noodles). The sauce is a zippy and creamy peanut-based sauce that coats the veggies ever so lightly. Delicious…. all I can hear is the resonant Mmmmm…
This is a super simple dish to make, to boot. Perfect when you have leftover coconut milk. Whiz together your sauce, then quickly stirfry your veggies to remove their raw edge, but keep them crisp and bright. Add your noodles and simmer a bit with your sauce. Now you’re good to eat!
I have become hard to please at restaurants. I’ve already lambasted Fresh for their limpy soba noodles and hit-or-miss salads, but now that I am armed with their miso gravy, I can conquer the world! Or at least make sure their recipes are a hit when I make it myself.
On their menu is their Dragon Bowl: brown rice or soba noodles topped by grilled tomato, zucchini & tofu steaks with rich miso gravy, sesame seeds, cilantro & green onions.
But now I can make Fresh’s Dragon Bowl, My Way.
Forget the brown rice, or their gummy soba noodles, I want my grilled vegetables overtop quinoa! Marinate some tofu in soy sauce and sesame oil and pan-fry it to perfection. Pick your favourite vegetables (zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant and broccoli are what I had on hand), douse them in a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic, grill them on your barbecue (or broil in your oven), smother in miso gravy and then sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions overtop.
This miso gravy makes everything taste great!
Why this is called a dragon bowl, I have no clue. All I know it tastes great.
If you compare meat and vegetables, which are more expensive? Meat, right?
I hear people complaining how costly fresh vegetables are, but really it isn’t that bad. The problem is that they are perishable and don’t necessarily keep that long. I suppose the same is true with meat, but it can easily be frozen without adverse effects.
Now tell me what the cheapest vegetable is….
Courtesy of Sunny-rrific sales:
Carrots: $1 for 4 lb is pretty good. 25c/lb.
I’ve bought a head of cabbage for 50c. That’s like 20c/lb.
Kohlrabi is cheap, too. I’ve bought it on sale for 19c/lb at Sunny’s. Probably because no one has a clue what to do with it.
When I see butternut squash on sale for 19c/lb, I stock up!
But no, I’ve seen fresh veggies even cheaper than 19c/lb.
Daikon! For 9c/lb!
Daikon is also known as a white radish and is relatively mild but still has a peppery punch. While I have cooked with daikon in my Japanese Winter Stew, I don’t have that many daikon recipes. I couldn’t help myself, though, and grabbed a handful of daikon for the road. As a root vegetable, they keep extremely well in the refrigerator.
A quick search led me to Miss Figgy’s daikon braised in mirin and tamari, which she adapted from The Kind Diet (original recipe posted here). The long braise was supposed to turn the normally pungent white radish into sea scallops. Not that I really know what sea scallops taste like, but I can imagine the texture.
Let me tell you, I would not have even guessed this was daikon. After the long braise in mirin, tamari and kombu, you create a subtly sweet and salty treat. There was no trace of spicy radish here. The radish was just a vehicle for the sauce. These are great warm, fresh from their long braise, but also chilled as leftovers.
Now please tell me how you prepare daikon. I think I have one left.
Who doesn’t love a good massage? Veggies love them, too. Show them your love. They will love you back.
But have you heard of massaging your mushrooms, too?
I like non-button mushrooms, but only if cooked. I will shun all raw mushrooms you throw at me. But now I know how to enjoy them raw. Massage your love into them with a delicious marinade.
This recipe is courtesy of Ani’s Raw Food Asia and I think it is pretty ingenious. She replicates Korean bulgogi, which describes the way Korean cuisine uses an open flame to cook their food. The food is usually marinaded in a Korean-style BBQ sauce. Ani does this all without turning on a flame.
A salty-sweet marinade is combined with meaty king oyster mushrooms. Massaging them allows the marinade to permeate the mushrooms but also tenderizes them. Slightly chewy, sweet-salty shrooms. Oh yeah. As king oyster mushroom are fairly meaty, when chopped into non-mushroom shapes, you could possibly fool mushroom haters completely. The marinade is that masking. They won’t think it is meat but they may not know it was a mushroom.
Next, you make a Korean hot chili pepper paste, but mine was more of a salty-sweet paste as the main component was miso with toasted sesame oil. I tamed the paste to my palate by using Aleppo chili flakes but definitely add to taste.
To complete the lettuce wraps, fill the wrap with julienned cucumber, carrots, raw garlic, a smidgen of the Korean chili paste and of course, your marinaded bulgogi mushrooms.
Wrap and roll, guys!
This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to E.A.T. World for Korea, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, and to this month’s My Kitchen, My World destination Korea.
Do heads of cabbage even come that small?
I remember Rob coming home with a monster cabbage and it tipped the scales at 5lb. Our last cabbage, which was the smallest in the bunch was 3lb. This leaves us with lots of cabbage! Thankfully it keeps fairly well and still as tasty as leftovers.
This time, I wanted to go Asian. China, of all places, which may not seem to have many healthy options (especially when you head out to a resto). But at home, of course, there are healthy options. You don’t need to add any cornstarch or MSG. It can be flavourful!
This sweet and sour cabbage dish was adapted from the New York Times. It was light and refreshing, while being nicely spiced with simple ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, green onions and ginger. The toasted sesame seeds are mandatory in my opinion to elevate the dish from bland to grand. I usually press my tofu, but this time I didn’t (it didn’t mention it in the original recipe) and the tofu kind of fell apart because it was quite soft (maybe it was the new kind of tofu I used as well? it didn’t seem to be particularly extra firm). It still tasted delicious but next time, I won’t omit that crucial step.
Not all nuts are created equal. I have a particular fondness for almonds, pistachios and even hazelnuts on a good day. I adore cashews as well, although they have saturated fats. Walnuts, I do not like as much. Pecans, neither.
But I still use walnuts in my meals. All those omega-3s are good for me, right? Beyond their health benefits, I find they can whip up to be nice and creamy, and have worked well in my energy balls and create a nice base for muhammara, the delicious Middle Eastern roasted red pepper and walnut dip. However, I find that baklava is brought to the next level when you substitute the (traditional) walnuts for pistachios.
With my recent adoration of all things miso, I decided to forge ahead and combine miso with walnuts in this warm asparagus and carrot salad. Adapted from Color Me Vegan, you create a lovely miso-walnut dip with mirin, tamari and rice vinegar. It was sweet and creamy and spread nicely over the warm vegetables. Thankfully in Southwestern Ontario, local asparagus can still be found! It paired well with the asparagus and carrots, but do not let that stop you from trying other vegetables.
I also loved this as a cold dip with freshly-cut vegetables as well (again, carrots worked well!). However, then you’ll need to make a lot more of the dip, because it will disappear quickly!
But I did.
Trust me, I didn’t succumb to the traditional sushi rolls.
Instead, I had a delicious raw sushi roll at Organic Lives. Completely inauthentic, it was filled with a pecan pate, sprouts, veggies, avocado and mango. With the zippy fruit-based dipping sauce, it was so completely different from any sushi roll I have ever had. The only similarity was that it was a nori roll wrap.
Once the hubbub subsided after I returned home, I was craving a more traditional sushi roll. Without all the hard work of actually rolling the little buggers…
When I visited Japan, one of my favourite meals was eating sashimi at the Tsukiji Market, which is the wholesale marketplace for seafood in Tokyo. With daily auctions, this is where you can eat the freshest fish. The sashimi was unbeatable. I have never been able to enjoy sea urchin anywhere else. So fresh, it was so buttery soft and creamy.
I actually visited Tsukiji two days in a row and sampled sashimi from two different vendors. Both times, I ordered a sushi bowl with an assortment of sashimi. One resto had better sashimi and the other had better rice. The rice was so good, it eclipsed the fish. And I don’t really like rice, actually. I consider it filler in sushi rolls, when I would rather be eating the filling. I tolerate rice for the most part, but here, I learned how great rice can taste.
I have experimented with a few rices since my return, and I still remain partial to a short-grain Japanese-style rice. Recently, I bought the Taiwanese Yih Chuan Aromatic Rice, which has a faint aroma of taro (yes, on sale at T&T). It brings rice to the next level. The rice is nicely flavoured, shaped and most importantly, tastes great.
My whole preamble about rice is because if you are going to make a sushi rice bowl, you should try to use a nice rice! The dressing helps, too. The toppings, too. But let the rice get the spotlight it deserves as it isn’t supposed to be a bland side.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, I wouldn’t call this an authentic Japanese recipe, but a lively citrus-flavoured sushi bowl. Top with your favourite sushi toppings such as steamed asparagus, avocado, grilled tofu, and dare I suggest mango? (Mango, next time…). The key to keep this a sushi bowl, and not a rice salad, though, is to include the toasted nori strips. You can buy them pre-shredded, but you could also toast the nori and then cut it into thin strips yourself.
While I have upgraded from a condo-sized fridge, the new full-sized fridge seems so full already as it is nearly packed with condiments! Three tahinis… three bottles of toasted sesame oil… three bottles for soy sauce (which I promptly removed from the fridge)… and Rob, alone, had all things tamarind and mango: 2 containers of tamarind concentrate, tamarind chutney, mango ginger chutney, mango chili sauce, pickled mango in oil. I am no saint, either, bringing the isoteric umeboshi plum paste, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce and some peach-mango salsa, amongst many, many others! Actually, I love isoteric ingredients… the duplicates bother me. For some reason the soy sauce bottles are NOT built to add liquid in the other way.
I have wanted to make my own hoisin sauce, ever since Rose posted her recipe and I spotted an even more compelling version in The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East. However, until I finish the bottle in the cupboard, I will be using the jarred variety.
I am a late bloomer for discovering the quick and easy nature of stir fries, where anything goes, but decided to try to use some of the condiments in the fridge in a stir fry. First one: hoisin sauce, the salty-sweet Chinese barbecue sauce.
Adapted from 101cookbooks, this is a quick stir fry filled with spring vegetables including asparagus, spinach and green onions. The hoisin flavour is augmented by garlic, ginger, chili flakes and a lightness is brought by fresh lime juice and basil. Instead of tofu, I opted to bring back roasted chickpeas to my kitchen, lovely with their nutty flavour. I substituted almonds for the cashews and omitted the mint altogether. But anything goes with stir fries, so throw together your favourite combination of ingredients. Just make sure your mise-en-place is ready to go before you heat your skillet – this will be fast!
For other hoisin sauce love, try my Tofu Hoisin with Baby Bok Choy.
When you eat alone, you may eat things that are odd. Cereal for dinner? I did that one too many times while in university. So quick and easy! Unless you are making steel cut oatmeal, regular or quick cooking oatmeal falls into the same category: quick and easy meal. Since exploring savoury oatmeal for breakfast, I didn’t think twice about whipping up a batch of oatmeal after coming home from Vancouver and then again for breakfast the next day. I was craving something warm and homey, after eating a lot of raw foods last week.
With Vancouver still on my mind (the sushi capital of Canada), I decided to spice up my ponzu-flavoured savoury oatmeal with strips of toasted nori and goji berries. Seemingly odd ingredients, but all hailing from somewhere in Asia, it worked really well together! The goji berries plumped up nicely and offered a hint of sweetness with some chewiness. The nori brought a comforting sushi-flavour to the dish, the citrus from the ponzu was light and refreshing and the quick-cooking oatmeal was slightly lumpy, but in a good reminds-me-of-rice kind of way.
I have been experimenting with more unusual ingredients lately: maca, delicious! Carob, yup. And now goji berries. Can I blame Tess’ new cookbook all about superfoods? Perhaps… but blame isn’t the right word, praise is more like it. While I also believe that common fruits and vegetables are superfoods with all their vitamins and minerals, it is nice to spice things up with new ingredients. Taste is the most important, though, which is something I will never sacrifice (the health benefits of goji berries may be overstated).
But let me share a secret: these wacky “superfoods” don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Even seaweed (nori, etc) and dried mushrooms can be expensive at health food stores. However, people have been eating seaweed and goji berries for years. Head to where they are native to find cheap supplies – and no, I don’t mean China. Head to Chinatown or your favourite Asian grocery store (Sunny!). Here, goji berries may be labelled as red medlar, though, which is why they have gone under my radar until now. Goji berries are so much cheaper, only a buck or two, whereas I know Whole Foods charges a lot more.
While goji berries are a bit lackluster straight from the bag – they taste like a tart cherry in the guise of a dried raisin – they are much better once they are plumped up in the oatmeal. Because they aren’t cloyingly sweet like most dried fruit, this paired well with the savoury nori and ponzu sauce.
As I’ve mentioned, Rob loves broccoli. Last week, I made Rob a sweet and savoury broccoli salad from Tess’ new superfoods cookbook Radiance 4 Life due out next month (I had the inside scoop as a recipe tester!). However, after using the crowns, I left with 3 large broccoli stems. What to do, what to do… they are definitely still good! Rob has made a delightful creamy broccoli dal from Vegan Yum Yum multiple times, which is filled with broccoli stems.. but I was hoping to try something new.
While flipping through Supermarket Vegan, a stir-fry caught my eye since it was filled with broccoli slaw, which is simply julienned or matchstick broccoli stems. Perfect! Except, I didn’t want to julienne 12 oz of broccoli by hand. I mean, I could, and I have in the past, but I wasn’t keen to do it this time.
Enter the mighty food processor. I finally looked at the other blades, and noticed there was one for julienning! In fact, I have a duplicate for julienning. In case it breaks, I suppose. (Aside, I wish I had a second base for my food processor because it IS cracking and falling apart! Ack! The forty-year-old food processor motor still runs but the plastic becomes brittle, gah!)
So, I peeled my broccoli stems, chopped them into smaller segments and threw them into the food processor. A bit of struggling as it was unbalanced but the food processor did its job. Not as pretty as when I do it by hand, but for a stir-fry, this is perfect. I added some grated carrot, pulled out some chopped frozen red pepper and was off to the stove. Within 15 minutes, dinner was ready. Despite such a simple cast of characters, this was a nice, simple stir-fry. The broccoli had a nice, sweet crunch that worked well with the carrot and red pepper. The addition of toasted peanuts really helped, along with the salty fermented black bean sauce. The original recipe also suggested bamboo shoots, which I didn’t think I had.. until I went through my pantry a few days later while packing (my pantry is such a treasure trove of interesting ingredients!). I have vowed to add it to my next stir-fry.
Where have stir-fries been all my life? Simple, quick and easy! I’d love to hear from you about your favourite sauces for stir-fries. Granted, leftovers aren’t as nice as the first night, but there are compromises I am willing to make for such a speedy dinner.
My mom thinks this vegan stuff is just a phase. Just as I go through other phases in my cooking, she tried to rationalize. She explained that first I was into cooking Japanese after my trip to Japan (all those soba noodles, Janet!), then Middle Eastern after visiting Turkey and Moroccan after my trip to Morocco. Each time, I venture into new cookbooks, find new spices, but truly, I incorporate everything I learn into all my meals. New ingredients, new flavours and new techniques.. it is all a learning process, as life should be. And yes, my pantry continues to gather new and exciting staples.
Granted, I can only eat so much, so I might tackle different cuisines in spurts. A little of Morocco here, a side trip to Brazil here, a quick jet to Egypt and then returning back to Japan. In these around-the-world culinary experiences, sometimes I forget how much I like certain ingredients. Case in point: miso. Last year, I bought miso for the first time to make baked eggplant with miso, which I adored at restos and could easily make at home. I also made miso-crusted black cod and a few other dishes which were great but then I went to Turkey… and forgot about miso.
Until, I made a Japanese winter stew with a miso-based broth. That kick-started it again. Loved it. It wasn’t the star of the meal, but it added an extra dimension. Then I made the orange-beet soup that had an extra twist from the miso. Followed up by the exquisitely delicious zesty orange cashew spread, I knew I had rediscovered an old favourite ingredient.
Plus, the great thing about miso is that I still had the same package from last year. It keeps forever in your fridge!! Discover it, forget about it, but let yourself rediscover it as you clean out your fridge.
I made this for Rob’s birthday, which had a Japanese-theme for his meal, and I loved it as an Asian spin on hummus. You use creamy edamame instead of chickpeas, but you still have lots of garlic and tahini for the prototypical hummus flavour. Instead of traditional lemon juice, lime juice is used. Throw in some spinach for some greenery, and you have a healthy, delicious dip.
It is not just a hummus made with edamame. I had the Trader Joe’s edamame hummus after eating this dip and was sorely disappointed – where was the miso?
It is creamy, smooth, salty with a bit of zip. Without knowing the ingredients, it is hard to place the flavours exactly, but you know it tastes great. Serve it with veggies, pita bread, or as a spread for a sandwich.