Asian bean curd rolls {gluten-free, vegan}

There’s a small vegetarian Chinese restaurant in my hometown that made me fall head over heels for tofu skin (also known as yuba). You wouldn’t know it was anything special from the menu name ‘crispy bean curd skin’ but one day my mum ordered it on a whim and after that, a trip to this restaurant wasn’t complete without a plate – or two!

You can buy dried beancurd sheets from Asian supermarkets. For this recipe, you’ll need the sheets, not dried beancurd sticks, which are also available (and also delicious – but more on that later).

You can do a lot with tofu skin, like soaking it in flavourings and deep frying, or filling it with stuffing and pan frying. My love for eating trumps my love for cooking, so nine times out of 10, I’m looking for shortcuts to spend less time in the kitchen.

Which brings me to these seriously tasty tofu skin rolls that sound a lot more complicated than they actually are. Just think of it as a new way to enjoy tofu.

Once cooked, the rolls can be sliced up and added to a buddha bowl, stir fry or even used as a pho topping. Any leftover slices can be stored in the freezer. Just reheat them in a warm pan before eating.

Asian bean curd rolls {gluten-free, vegan}
Makes approx. 2 medium rolls

1 1/2 c filtered water
1/4 c gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 2-3 pieces
2 cloves
1 whole dried red chilli
1 star anise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 packet of dried bean curd sheets

Add water, soy sauce, sherry, coconut sugar, ginger, cloves, chilli, star anise and cinnamon to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Let simmer for 10 minutes then strain and let the sauce cool.

Unfold the bean curd sheets. Leaving the sheets on top of each other, roughly cut about 5cm off the edge right around the sheets – try to do this in one go so you have a long offcut from each sheet.

Set aside all the sheets. Group the offcuts together and tie it in a rough knot. Submerge the knot in the sauce for about five minutes to soak.

Place one sheet onto a clean damp tea towel and using tongs, pick up the knot and use it as a brush to coat the entire sheet. Repeat with remaining sheets, returning the knot to the pan as needed to soak up more sauce.

Once all the sheets have been coated, place the knot in the middle of the sheets. Fold the sides in first, then move the knot towards you, to the edge of the sheets, so it can be the centre of the roll. Then, tightly roll the sheets up to form a log.

Cut the log into two pieces (three pieces if this won’t fit in your steamer) and steam for around 15 minutes. Then, remove from steamer and pan fry each roll for three minutes on one side, and three minutes on the other side.

Let cool slightly before slicing into thin pieces. Add to a cooked stir fry, buddha bowl or use as a pho topping.

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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.

Green eggs and jam | Gluten-free vegan tofu scramble

I’m in two minds about this. One huge part of me wishes I had stopped searching for perfection seven years ago and just bitten the bullet on this thing. But, another huge part of me is spurred on by my friends, family and colleagues – they are constantly checking in with me about what I’ve been making and when they will be able to see it on my blog. Well, I am finally here, and what better way to christen Kale Mary than by starting with a breakfast meal featuring kale? Not to mention breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

It took me a while to find scrambled tofu nirvana – almost as long as it took me to get this blog up and running – some too dry, others too plain, and the rest too (forgive me) moist. Here I am today with a recipe that is not too dry, not too moist and the complete opposite of boring: green eggs (aka gluten-free, vegan scrambled tofu) and red onion jam. Where’s the ham? I’m not quite there on that front but onion jam sure does the trick in the meantime.

OK, so it might look like there are a few ingredients here (hey, did I mention it is a super quick recipe) but when you break it down, most of what’s needed will be already sitting in your pantry waiting to be used for this exact moment. Don’t have nutritional yeast or matcha? Buy it. Seriously, what are you doing? These ingredients will change your life.

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Green eggs (aka simple scrambled tofu)
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp coconut oil
4 leaves of kale, finely sliced (dino/tuscan kale is preferred but curly will do the job)
250g organic non-GMO tofu, crumbled with your hands or a fork (you don’t want uniform pieces)
2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp matcha
1 tbsp + 2 tsp water
1 tbsp + 2 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp powdered vegetable stock (optional)
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch cracked black pepper
Small handful of chives, finely sliced (optional)
Small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish

Mix crumbled tofu with nutritional yeast, matcha, water, soy sauce, garlic powder and turmeric, cumin and stir until combined.

Heat coconut oil in a shallow pan on medium. Add finely sliced kale until gently wilted and darkening in colour (a few minutes) then add the tofu and mix through before adding the extra tablespoons of both soy sauce and water.

Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes ensuring the tofu is covered by the matcha and spices, and it is not catching on the bottom of the pan.

Season with salt and pepper, stir through chives (if using) then take off the heat. Garnish with parsley and serve hot or cold with red onion jam, avocado and toast.

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Red onion jam
Makes 1.5 cups

1 tbsp olive oil
3 red onions, finely sliced
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a wide-based pan on a medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with salt, stirring until onion has started to soften.

Add sugar and stir around the pan until it has dissolved. Then, add the red wine vinegar and mix through.

Turn heat to low and cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes until onions grow darker in colour and become sticky and caramelised. Remove from heat, let cool and jar.