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roasted tomatoes titlecard

Roasted Tomatoes with Coconut Vinegar

Sometimes people ask me, “Is it hard to go vegan?”. They seemed baffled and amazed, presuming veganism is challenging and daunting at the same time. They would admire my work as “going the extra mile” to sustain my lifestyle. I was once in their shoes, so I rather not give them attitude and feel offended. Instead, I like to clarify that vegan cooking is not complicated.

One example showing vegan cooking is simple, is a dish called roasted tomatoes. All you need are tomatoes and some condiments and spices. To make the process even simpler, you could use a toaster oven instead of an oven and use only three pieces of tomatoes. After all, it’s not practical to use the oven and bake a whole bunch of tomatoes when you’re not feeding a party.

Just because it’s simple, it doesn’t have to be boring. My recipe calls for coconut vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar to change things a bit. Coconut vinegar has less sugar than balsamic so the recipe is good for those watching their sugar intake. The result is reminiscent to the Filipino tomato dish called “Pinangat“.

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ROASTED TOMATOES WITH COCONUT VINEGAR:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced horizontally
  • drizzle of Nuco coconut vinegar
  • drizzle of Nuco liquid coconut oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • few sprigs of rosemary leaves (you may also use thyme, bay leaves or basil)

tomato prep

 

roasted tomato prep sliced tomatoes

 

roasted tomatoes prep before the oven

 

roasted tomatoes with nuco

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the tomatoes on a baking dish and drizzle with oil and vinegar.
  2. Sprinkle the garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the rosemary leaves.
  3. Bake in a toaster oven at its highest setting (usually 450F) for 30-40 minutes. Be careful of drips. I usually use foil for an easy clean up.

roasted tomato wide shot

roasted tomatoes close up

You could enjoy the roasted tomatoes as side dish, snack, or appetizer. You could also chop the tomatoes to top on pasta and other noodle dishes. If you have tomatoes already in your pantry, this dish is incredibly simple and easy to make for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Note: The awesome folks at Nuco Coconuts sent me their coconut products to try in my dishes. All views are my own. Nuco sources their coconuts from the Philippines and are sustainably-grown, organic, and fair-trade, improving the livelihood of Philippine coconut farmers. Learn more about Nuco’s products and its story on: nucoconut.com/nuco-story

 

asian greens soup tofu mushroom squash title card

Asian Greens Soup with Squash, Tofu, & Enoki Mushrooms

Living in San Francisco, I feel lucky for having many vegan options when dining out. One of these options is my favorite soup called “Braised Pea Leaves” with pumpkin, pressed tofu, and salted chili broth served at a restaurant called Mission Chinese.

Mission Chinese is a quaint restaurant in the Mission district. Some people frown upon this place, calling it too “hipster” because of its quirky decor and pricey menu items. But I didn’t mind the decor nor the price of the soup. I was more than willing to pay its deserving price for a bowl of its nourishing and delicious soup, with a side of white rice. I don’t mind who dines in there and whether I am indeed among the presence of “hipsters”. I simply enjoy the soup.

But I crave the soup too much that I just had to recreate it so I could have it any time, anywhere. Well, anywhere that has a kitchen. My version is not an exact replication but a personal rendition, an interpretation that has become my new favorite. I’ve added other ingredients such as enoki mushrooms and used a variation of Asian Greens -sometimes snow pea leaves, sometimes yu choy, and sometimes even kale. Basically any greens that have sweet stalk and tender leaves. I don’t braise them, I would just add them to the pot as one of the last steps. I also like to use regular, firm tofu instead of pressed, chewy tofu.

As for the seasoning, I kept the roasted garlic, chili pepper, and sesame oil. I think Mission Chinese uses mushroom broth so that’s what I use too. Anyway, I am completely satisfied and happy with my version that I am excited to share it with you. I think you’ll be pleased to know that it’s not only delicious, it’s easy and quick to cook too.

 

ASIAN GREENS SOUP WITH SQUASH, TOFU, AND ENOKI MUSHROOMS

Serves 4

Cooking time: 20 minutes

asian greens soup wide

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 quarts water
  • mushroom broth to taste (see note below)
  • 1/4 of small kabocha squash, thinly sliced with skin intact
  • 4-6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2-3 Thai chili pepper, minced (see note below)
  • drizzle of sesame oil
  • pinch of salt
  • a bunch of Asian greens (see note below)
  • a bunch of Enoki mushrooms, roots cut and removed
  • a block of firm tofu, thinly sliced
  • 3-5 tablespoons of cooking oil to fry the tofu

NOTES: 

  • Every brand of mushroom broth is different. They vary in form and strength. Start small and gradually add more until you’ve achieved your desired amount of savoriness. I like to use the brand “Po Lo Ku Mushroom Seasoning” that I got at my local Asian grocery store. I start with about three tablespoons, adding more to taste.
  • I like my soup mildly spicy. You may use more chili pepper if you want more kick. You may use chili oil or sambal olek in addition to or in replacement for the chili pepper. If you don’t want it to be spicy at all, you may de-seed the pepper before adding to the pot or skip them altogether.
  • You may use any greens that have firm, sweet stalk and tender leaves. Ideally, I like to use snow pea leaves but I’ve also used yu choy, sometimes even kale.
  • While you’re waiting for your soup to simmer and cook, you could also fry the tofu on another pan to cut down your cooking time.
  • Growing up, I was always told to remove the skin off the kabocha squash before cooking it. As it turns out, the skin is also edible! So feel free to keep the skin intact; it doesn’t have any prominent flavor and it does give nutritious fiber.

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add water to a medium-size pot and heat it over medium heat.
  2. Pour the mushroom broth and a pinch of salt and mix to fully incorporate. Cover and put to simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  3. While you’re waiting for your broth to simmer, put the garlic cloves a the toaster oven and toast for 5 minutes or until they have brown and black toasted spots.
  4. During this time, you could also fry your tofu on a separate pan, preferably next to your soup so you could watch both.
  5. Once your soup is simmering, add kabocha squash and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the squash has slightly softened.
  6. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You may add more mushroom broth, salt, or water. Then drizzle some sesame oil.
  7. Put the broth to a boil and turn down the heat to a low simmer. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and greens. Cover the pot with lid and let the greens and mushroom absorb the flavors for another 3 minutes. You may finish up frying your tofu at this time.
  8. Lastly, add the fried tofu to the pot.
  9. Turn off the heat and serve the soup hot, preferably with a side of rice (or farro for a no-sugar option).

 

This soup is my go-to when I run out of time to cook and have only 20 minutes to spare and few ingredients to use. It’s extremely simple, versatile, and delicious. Even though the weather is warming up in San Francisco, it’s never a bad time for some Asian greens soup with a mild kick. Feel free to try it and share with family and friends. This soup is best enjoyed when shared. Thanks to Mission Chinese Restaurant for the inspiration!

 

 

I submitted this recipe to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

 

virtual vegan linky potluck

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Vegan Adobo Dumplings for the Chinese New Year

For the longest time, I thought making Chinese dumplings requires a special skill only dumpling masters have a talent for. I would have skipped making dumplings any other time but the upcoming holiday, Chinese New Year, has inspired me to finally give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could make dumplings at the comfort of my kitchen using simple ingredients and attainable cooking techniques.

I may not be Chinese (although a lot of people say I look like one) but I thought making dumplings for the Chinese New Year would be fun. To change things up a bit, I infused a Filipino flavor by adding seasonings I would usually put in my Filipino vegetable Adobo such as soy sauce, vinegar, and lots of garlic.

I used store-bought dumpling wrappers to make things easier and simpler. Maybe someday I’ll make the wrappers from scratch. For now, I’m in no hurry. I’ve learned that starting slowly but surely is the key to getting Chinese dumplings right (or in learning any skill for that matter).

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Compared to my prior post about Suman Moron, I thought of posting more photos this time to describe the ingredients I used as well as the procedures I did -particularly the pleating and sealing of the wrapper.

 






Spinach and Tofu Adobo Dumplings

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 3-5

Spinach and Tofu Adobo Dumplings

Making dumplings at home couldn't get any easier. Celebrate and welcome the Chinese New Year with a touch of Filipino flair by making Spinach and Tofu Adobo Steamed Dumplings, with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch spinach, thoroughly washed, cut in half
  • 1 extra firm tofu, minced
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch mixed in 6 tablespoons of water
  • 1 pack dumpling wrapper
  • water, for steaming
  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • drizzle of chili oil
  • Equipment:
  • medium size pan
  • tongs
  • steamer (bamboo steamer preferably but not required)
  • parchment paper, cut holes so the steam could get through (you may also use banana leaves )

Directions

  1. Heat a medium size pan over low heat, pour the sesame oil.
  2. Saute the garlic for a minute or two
  3. Add the spinach, tofu, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, white pepper, and sugar. Mix well and let it cook until the spinach wilts and reduces its size in half. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Pour the corn starch mixture and stir to fully incorporate. Let it cook until the consistency turns thick (about 5 minutes). Then turn off the heat and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
  5. Take about a teaspoon of the filling and place it on the center of a dumpling wrapper sheet
  6. Lightly form a half circle, like a taco.
  7. Using your hands, fold a small pleat on only one side of the wrapper (preferably the side closest to you) and press the pleat to the other side. Remember, you do not need to form pleats on both sides, just the side closest to you.
  8. Keep forming small pleats until you've sealed the whole wrapper. Then gently press down all over the dumpling to tightly seal and release any air.
  9. You'll notice that once you're done with pleating, the top part has curved up a bit (because you've pleated only one side of the wrapper).
  10. Now you're ready to steam the dumplings! Place a piece of parchment paper (with holes on them) on the steamer basket. Pour water in the steamer and put the water to a boil.
  11. Steam the dumplings for 8-10 minutes.
  12. Remove from the steamer and serve immediately.
  13. Alternatively, you may also pan fry the dumplings to make them into potstickers. Just heat a pan over medium heat. Pour two tablespoons of oil and let it heat for 3-5 minutes. Fry the dumplings on one side until golden brown. Turn off the heat. Keeping your distance away from the pan, pour about 1/4 cup of water or vegetable broth to steam the dumplings for about two minutes. Remove the dumplings from the pan and serve hot with soy sauce dipping.

Notes

It's best to use top quality extra-firm tofu. I like to use the brand, Hodo Soy. I could honestly eat Hodo Soy straight from the package.

Some dumpling wrappers have eggs in them. Just read the label to make sure there are no animal products. You could find dumpling wrappers at most Asian markets and grocery stores.

It'll be easier to wrap dumplings if you go slow at first; you'll get the hang of it by the third or fourth dumpling.

Do not put too much filling or else the dumpling will be hard to seal.

I find it easier to use both of my hands when pleating the dumplings and gently pressing the filling down if I need to make more room for pleating.

You could either steam or pan fry the dumplings. Here, I tried both ways and both are absolutely delicious!

http://www.astigvegan.com/vegan-adobo-dumplings-for-the-chinese-new-year/

As it turns out, making Chinese dumplings was not only doable, it was fun too! After steaming the dumplings, I also pan fried them to make potstickers.

Did you know that legend has it that potstickers were invented by accident? A chef in China’s Imperial Court left the dumplings on the stove for too long. He ran out of time to make another batch so he served the “burnt ones” anyway announcing they were his new creation. The court members loved them and the rest they say is history!

pot sticker3pot sticker1

pot sticker cu

I suggest serving the dumplings immediately while they are still hot and with hot tea on the side -preferably jasmine green tea or Dragonwell (my favorite!).

Gung Hei Fat Choy!

 

Vegan Wine and Cheese with Friends

 

Over the weekend, my friends, Jen, Rosie, Laura, and I got together for some vegan wine and cheese at Jen’s place in the city. The idea came from Jen who said she bought cheese from Door 86 that she’d like to share with us.

The vegan cheese: Brie, Sriracha Cheddar, Gruyere, and Candied Lemon, were all cashew based. Rosie made and brought her smoked cheddar cheese while I made and brought Pili nut cheese.

vegan cheese spreadAlong with vegan cheese, we also enjoyed some white wine and sparkling grape juice.

vegan cheese spread 2

But before we feasted over a beautiful spread of vegan cheese, we enjoyed a plate of Rosie’s salad which had spinach, arugula, fennel, grapefruit, rosemary, and more. Rosie said she got the recipe from Yvonne at @yvonne_deliciously_vegan.

arugula fennel salad

I also baked and brought vegan Bibingka, a type of Filipino rice cake. Bibingka is best enjoyed with cheese on top so I figured it’ll be a good dish to bring to our get together. The recipe could be found here.

bibingka We had a variety of bread to eat with our vegan cheese.

bread

Laura baked and made some raw vegan chocolates. The delectable treats include raw vegan Snickers, raw vegan truffles, and raw vegan peanut butter cups-all topped with nuts of course. My favorite was the Snickers.raw vegan chocolatesHere we are, me, Rosie, Jen, and Laura. I had such a lovely time with these ladies-as always!
veg wine and cheese wide shot

Vegan Bicol Express Recipe

vegan bicol express wideNo it’s not fast food because it’s called “Express”, although it’s pretty simple to make.

My vegan version cuts back the cooking time because you don’t have to worry about cooking pork. You will have to cook raw jackfruit but that just involves boiling it in water until it’s soft. You may find raw jackfruit fresh or frozen at your Asian supermarkets.

I relied heavily on the notes of garlic, onion, black pepper, and chillies, and just simple seasoning of salt. If you’d like to make it more savory, feel free to also use black bean sauce.  As for the nice fattiness the pork version is known for, I used refined coconut oil instead. You may also use olive oil or vegan butter.

The traditional version also had more coconut milk. I wanted mine to just have a nice glaze. Feel free to add more coconut milk if you prefer it to be soupy.

jackfruit curry  med shot

VEGAN BICOL EXPRESS

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

  •  1 block tofu, cut into cubes
  • 5 tablespoons refined coconut oil or 4 tbsp. olive oil or vegan butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried bean curd sticks (available at most Asian grocery stores).
  • 5-6 Thai chillies (save some for garnish. You may deseed to decrease the level of spiciness. Alternatively, if you want it more spicy, you may put more chillies.
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons black bean sauce 
  • a dash of salt
  • a dash of black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Remove excess moisture from the tofu using a paper towel. Heat a medium pan in high heat, add cooking oil then fry the tofu. (Tip: Don’t overcrowd the pan with tofu otherwise they won’t fry well. A splatter screen will help prevent the moisture from splattering all over your stove.) Once the tofu cubes are crispy on the outside, remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the refined coconut oil then saute the garlic until light brown.
  3. Add the minced onion and saute some more until the onion is slightly tender and translucent.
  4. Put the, tofu, dried bean curd sticks, and Thai chillies. Mix well.
  5. Pour the coconut milk. Season with black bean sauce, salt and black pepper. Simmer for about 15- 20 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and serve with rice.

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I love to consider (vegan) Bicol express as my comfort food. Feel free to make one and you’ll find out why. This hearty spicy dish will make your day. Enjoy!

BUKO PANDAN RECIPE

buko-pandan-medium

Something green was what came to my mind when I was brainstorming for my next recipe. After all, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I wanted the recipe to be helpful for people looking for something to serve or eat for the Irish holiday.

I don’t know any Irish dishes but I do know Filipino dishes that have some green in them, particularly desserts that have pandan or screw pine leaves.

Pandan leaves are widely used in Southeast Asia for their infusion of aroma and flavor. Filipinos would take a strip of pandan, tie it in a knot, and incorporate it when cooking rice. Once the rice is done, it will give the rice such sweet aroma. To remove the pandan, we simply pull out the string; the knot will help not break the leaf upon removal.

pandan-leaves

In addition to rice, Filipinos also use pandan in desserts such as in cakes, pastries, sweet salads, and ice cream. Pandan is often paired with coconut-either coconut milk or coconut meat or both. For my recipe, I’m featuring the widely popular sweet dessert: Buko Pandan or Coconut Pandan. The traditional recipe calls for heavy manufacturing cream which I simply replaced with coconut cream. Everything else was made in traditional way.

If yout if you couldn’t find fresh pandan leaves, you could get them at the frozen section of a nearby Asian supermarket, which I did. If you couldn’t find either fresh or frozen, you may also get pandan extract, also at your Asian supermarket. Just follow the directions in the bottle for the ratio.

 

BUKO PANDAN SALAD

buko-pandan-medium-shot

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

Pandan jelly:

  • 6-8 strips pandan leaves
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon agar-agar powder, available at Asian stores
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar

Buko salad:

  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup nut milk (almond or coconut or soymilk. I used Califia Vanilla flavored almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup shredded young coconut (better if fresh, but you could also find them at the frozen section of Asian markets, just thaw first before using)
  • 6 tbsp Nata de Coco (available at Filipino and/or Asian supermarkets)

agar-agarshredded-young-coconut

DIRECTIONS:

Pandan jelly:

  1. Using a high speed blender or food processor, blend the pandan with water. Strain by using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
  2. Using a sauce pan or small pot, heat the pandan juice over high heat. Add a bit more water if you’ve significantly lost water during the blending (to maintain the 2 cups ratio). Let the juice simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the agar-agar powder and sugar. Constantly stir until the powder and sugar have fully melted.
  4. As soon as it starts boiling, turn off the heat and transfer to a mold, baking pan, or glass container. Let it cool then refrigerate to set (about 30-45 minutes).
  5. Once the jelly has set, remove from the fridge. Cut into blocks and add them to your Buko salad.

Buko salad:

  1. In a serving bowl, mix the coconut cream, nut milk, shredded young coconut, and nata de coco. Add a bit of sugar if you’d like to sweeten it.
  2. Add the pandan jelly.
  3. Garnish with lemon (suggested serving)

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Buko pandan salad tastes sweet and refreshing. It’s great for parties or as a sweet treat after a long day at work. You could make a bunch ahead of time and just leave them in the fridge to snack on later. Anyway you want it, I’m sure you’ll be happy to discover the wonderful flavors of pandan. Kain na, let’s eat! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Vegan Filipino Menudo with Wheat Gluten

Filipino Menudo is a stew of hearty ingredients like garbanzo beans, potatoes, carrots, hotdog, pork, and liver.

For my vegan version, I used plain wheat gluten that I got from an Asian store to substitute the meat. I chopped the gluten like croutons, fried them, and included them to my stew. You’ll be surprised by how similar it is to meat texture.

To have a nice earthy taste of the original version,  I used tempeh soybean cake instead of liver.

tempeh seitan menudo med shot

 

VEGAN FILIPINO MENUDO 

tempeh seitan menudo wide

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 block plain wheat gluten, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrot sticks, diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium can tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 block tempeh, diced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (preferably peeled)
  • 4-6 tablespoons soy sauce

 

tempeh seitan menudo close up

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium pan, fry the wheat gluten chunks until crunchy. Set aside.
  2. Using the same medium pan over medium heat, pour the oil and heat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add the onions and bell pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes or until the onion is a bit translucent.
  5. Put the carrots, potatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
  6. Include the garbanzo beans, wheat gluten, and tempeh. Mix well.
  7. Season with soy sauce. Add more tomato sauce or tomato paste to taste.
  8. Simmer for another 8-10 minutes in low heat.
  9. Turn off the heat and serve with rice. Enjoy!!

I highly recommend trying out fried wheat gluten as your meat substitute.  This hearty menudo is a delicious proof!