The best vegan san choy bau {gluten-free}

I can finally see. I had LASIK last week and it truly was the best thing I’ve ever done. A few people told me I shouldn’t get it done, not because they had or had known someone who had a bad experience, but because “you suit glasses”, and “glasses are part of who you are”. It kinda shocked me a bit. Glasses are a medical device, but they shouldn’t define a person or be their identity.

So now, here I am. No more glasses, and with that, I can now open the oven and not have my glasses steam up, I can go swimming, I can exercise … properly. I was nervous in the lead up. In fact, that’s a bit of an understatement. This recipe for san choy bau was the best reward for those nerves. For a few minutes while eating this, I forgot about the procedure completely and all was right in the world.

You’ll love this san choy bau. It’s actually mushroom-free. I toyed with the idea of adding mushrooms for some meatiness but I’m not the biggest fan, and I really want to show you that there’s so much more to vegan meals than mushrooms.

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Gluten-free vegan san choy bau
Serves 3-4

250g organic non-GMO firm tofu
80g pine nuts
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp gluten-free hoisin sauce (Ayam makes a good one)
1 tsp sriracha (more if you can handle heat)
1 tsp arrowroot flour
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 zucchinis, diced
100g green beans, diced
Gem lettuce, to serve
Thai basil, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Cut the tofu into 6-8 even-sized pieces and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

While tofu is in the oven, gently toast the pine nuts in a wide-based saucepan. Set aside.

Add dry sherry, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce and sriracha into a small bowl and whisk. Add arrowroot and mix until combined. Set aside.

Remove tofu from oven and let cool. Once cooled, use your hands to break up/crumble the tofu.

Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Saute for 10 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Once browned and fragrant, add carrot, zucchini and green beans and cook a further 5-8 minutes.

Add the tofu crumbles and pine nuts before adding the sauce ingredients to the pan. Cook until sauce thickens – approx. 5 minutes.

Serve in lettuce leaves with fresh Thai basil.

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The best gluten-free vegan pad Thai

The day I perfected my recipe for pad Thai was the day I stopped ordering it from Thai restaurants. So, my favourite guilty pleasure is actually pad kee mao although I’ve not managed to replicate that one at home yet. I’ll get there eventually.

It can be really frustrating ordering a pad Thai without egg at Thai restaurants. It’s usually quite oily because the chef doesn’t factor in that less oil is required when egg is omitted.

Another way I describe this recipe is ‘better-than-Thai-restaurant pad Thai’ and when something has a name like that, why would you order in? OK, I know why, because you have nothing in the fridge or pantry, and/or you’ve had a rough day and just can’t. I get it, I’ve been there.

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The best gluten-free vegan pad Thai
Serves 4

1/2 cup coconut sugar
3/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 brown onion, cut into slices
1/2 head broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cup baby spinach
2 carrots, cut on an angle
200g rice noodles (I like brown rice noodles), cooked
250g organic non-GMO tofu, cut into pieces and baked
Coriander, to serve
Peanuts, to serve
Spring onion, to serve
Chives, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Add coconut sugar, gluten-free soy sauce, tomato paste, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil and garlic to a bowl and whisk until combined.

Heat some coconut oil in a wok and add the brown onion. Cook until soft then add the vegetables, noodles, tofu and sauce ingredients.

Keep the burner on a high heat and gently stir the ingredients to ensure the sauce is coating everything. When the sauce starts bubbling around the sides of the pan, mix ingredients through. Let sit a minute or two longer, until the noodles start to catch on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and add coriander, peanuts, spring onion and chives. Plate with lime wedges.

Quick curry | Gluten-free vegan yellow curry

Full disclosure, I was planning to make mac n cheese. It didn’t work out. I don’t know what I was thinking anyway, I never even liked it that much. I did like fettuccine alfredo though so maybe that’s my next pasta dish to conquer.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this recipe for the fastest curry I’ve ever whipped up. It’s delicate, flavoursome, light and best of all, you can have it from farm (or fridge!) to plate in 10 minutes.

Store-bought curry paste isn’t my preference but I’m all for shortcuts in the kitchen and when you’re counting down the minutes until you can unwind after a long day, it’s a shortcut I’m willing to take. Still, it’s not a shortcut I like to take often. Enter my gluten-free, curry paste-free, vegan Thai yellow curry made in just 10 minutes. How? The trick, my friends, is concentrated tamarind.

If you have a few more minutes to spare, you could bake some tofu for some extra protein. It will probably take you about 35 mins to prep and cook this dish if you decide you want to do the tofu, but it’s worth it. Especially if you coat the tofu in a special spice mix.

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Quick curry | Gluten-free vegan yellow curry without curry paste
Serves 3-4

For the tofu:
250g organic non-GMO tofu, cut into triangles
4 tbsp vegan fish sauce (see note)
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp dried wakame flakes
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked sweet paprika

For the curry:
1 brown onion, halved and cut into even slices
1 mild red chilli, de-seeded and sliced longways
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
1 clove fresh garlic, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp concentrated tamarind
270ml coconut milk
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
300g baby spinach

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Marinate the tofu in vegan fish sauce and lemon juice for at least 5 minutes in the fridge (the longer, the better, but who has time to wait?). Then, in a small bowl, combine the wakame, garlic and paprika. Add each piece of tofu to the mix and evenly coat.

Place tofu on a baking tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Cook onion in a wide-based saucepan over a medium heat. Once soft, add the ginger, chilli and garlic (both fresh and dried) and cook until fragrant. Add the cumin and turmeric, and stir until mixed through.

Add the coconut milk, tamarind, water and vegetable stock powder and cook for a minute longer before adding the spinach. Cook until spinach has wilted then serve into bowls with some steamed rice and a couple of pieces of baked tofu on top.

NOTE: Vegan fish sauce is available from Asian grocery stores. Look out for it in the vegetarian section. Otherwise, check out the internet. Not vegan? Use real fish sauce.