Tag Archives: vegan

Lumpiang Gulay (Vegetable Spring Roll)

It sure has been a while. Since I’ve last posted, a lot has been going on in my family (more information on my personal blog), and it’s been an important reminder of the importance of family.

Family is an interesting concept. I could say my family is my mom, my dad, and my little brother Jude, but there’s so much more to the word “family” that transcends just a list of the people in my household. To me, family is just as much about heritage, traditions, collective experiences, and shared meals as it is about the people I live with. And one meal we’ve shared a lot is lumpia, a type of fried spring roll originally of Chinese origin but is now very common in the Philippines and Indonesia. (The word “gulay” just refers to the fact it’s made of vegetables, which is perfect for your Meatless Mondays!)

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Partially because I’m only half Filipino and partially because I live in the United States, I’ve always felt disconnected from my Filipino heritage even though it shapes a large part of who I am. That’s why I find it so important for me to continue trying new Filipino food, learning how to make certain recipes, and keeping these recipes documented somewhere. At the end of the day, even small recipes like these are a part of what makes up my family—a part of the heritage and traditions passed down through my mother’s side.

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My mom first introduced lumpiang gulay to me while I was in middle school, and when we decided to not eat meat for a period of time, it made for a great meal that fit our dietary preferences at the time. Even though I still do eat meat (although I may go vegetarian again once I leave for college next year), lumpiang gulay is still something we continue to eat in my home.

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Now that my grandma from the Philippines has been in town, I’ve also realized that she and my mom have very different ways of eating lumpiang gulay, a huge shock to me since I always assumed the way my mom ate it was the normal way. My mom likes to cut into the lumpia lengthwise and pour in the garlic sauce that way, whereas my grandma eats it the “normal” way—dipping it into the sauce and eating it like any other spring roll. I personally think the way my grandma eats it makes way more sense, but for some reason my mom continues to eat it the way she does.

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Green Tea Soba Noodle Salad

January sure is flying by, isn’t it? We’re already halfway through the month! This is crazy! Only 17 days ago we celebrated the new calendar year. But do you know what other new year is rolling around?

Chinese New Year is coming just around the corner, and I can’t exactly say I’m ready for it. By the stroke of midnight on January 31, the calendar shifts over from the current Year of the Snake to the Year of the Horse!

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A few weeks ago I went to the Chinese Lantern Festival in Dallas and they devoted a whole section to the Chinese Zodiac. I’ve heard a couple different legends on how Chinese New Year began, but the one presented at the Chinese Lantern Festival was that once upon a time, the Jade Emperor summoned all the animals to a meeting. Only 11 of them, plus the dragon, arrived, and the Jade Emperor rewarded them by giving each of them a calendar year in the order that they arrived in. Because the Rat arrived first, it got the first calendar year that begins the 12-year Chinese Zodiac.

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Moo Shu Tofu

Ever since I was little, Mulan has always been my hero. She was one of my favorite Disney characters, only behind Lilo and Stitch. I always admired her bravery and courage, and like most children, I completely ignored the idea that she’s a fictional character. To make matters slightly more confusing, I’d met her and her guardian dragon Mushu at Disney World in Orlando, Florida! How could she possibly be fake?

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The reason I bring this up is because my younger brother Jude watched Mulan and Mulan II for the very first time last month. When he heard my mom and I were trying to make Moo Shu Tofu, he freaked out. “NO!” he screamed. “I refuse to let you make anything with Mushu in it!”

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Right now I’m in Fort Myers, Florida. This time, the whole family is united for a week-long vacation, and Disney World is one of our stops. The Epcot park in Disney World is one of my favorite places, mostly because it represents multiple countries from around the world, and if you know me, I have a very global worldview.

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I definitely expect to go head to the China pavilion at Epcot. Why? So I can meet Mulan and Mushu, of course! And then maybe Jude will realize that my mom and I didn’t actually cook Mushu. (Besides, I think “dragons” would be considered an animal and off-limits to vegetarians. Right? Right?)

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After the hustle-and-bustle of New York City, I can’t wait to have some time to just rest and relax on the beaches of Florida. If you want to keep up with my adventures in Florida (which will mostly include Orlando) or read about my trip to New York City, you can check it out on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook. I’ll be posting more about both trips over the course of the next few weeks so check back if you’re interested!

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And without further ado, here’s the Moo Shu Tofu recipe! Don’t worry, not a single Mushu was harmed in the making of this recipe.

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Moo Shu Tofu

Makes 12 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 block organic, extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes (about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6–8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bag (14-ounces) coleslaw mix — to make from scratch, see our Asian Coleslaw recipe
  • 12 Bibb or romaine lettuce leaves

* Some items are repeated because they are used for multiple steps.

Directions

  1. Combine the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and tofu slices in a ziplock bag. Marinate at least 2–3 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Prepare the dipping sauce by combining the sesame oil, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and mustard powder. Set aside.
  3. Heat about 1–2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or pan. Add diced tofu to the wok, reserving the marinade, and stir-fry until browned on most sides, which should take about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
  4. Add remaining oil to the wok while still hot, and add the mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the bag of coleslaw mix and cook until wilted. Add the tofu and the reserved marinade until well combined.
  5. Serve on lettuce leaves with the dipping sauce.

 

Vegetarian Flatbread with Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

Hello from New York City!

I just arrived in the Big Apple yesterday evening. Within just the first few hours of getting into New York, I met with some of my relatives and had dinner and dessert overlooking Times Square. The bright, flashy lights of Times Square were completely breathtaking. I’ll have a post filled with photos on Kuya’s Notebook either later today or early tomorrow.

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So what else is on the agenda this week? Tomorrow, I’m heading off to Columbia University and going to Hangawi, a vegetarian Korean restaurant, to celebrate Meatless Monday (do click the link, you never know what surprise you’ll find, wink wink)! Later this week, it’ll be pizza time—and I’ll get to eat delicious New York pizza! Yummy! All I have to do now is fold my pizza like a New Yorker, and I’ll be all set.

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The quest for the perfect pizza began in Italy, about four years ago. We were on a vacation to Sorrento, and I, as a picky eater, wanted to find the perfect pizza. The pizza I’d had from here in the United States included the usual variety: cheese, pepperoni, that weird one filled with vegetables that I wouldn’t even touch, the meat-lovers, Hawaiian, etc.

Personally, I found cheese and pepperoni to be my personal favorites (read: only ones I’d eat). The vegetable one was just plain strange and disgusting (I still feel that way about some of the veggie-lovers pizzas), and the meat-lovers pizza was just plain gross. Hawaiian pizza was my mom’s favorite—and eventually mine too before I stopped eating Canadian bacon—but that one was best left to mom.

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In Italy, my first instinct was to ask for a pepperoni pizza. Guess what kind of pizza doesn’t exist in Sorrento? (That’s right, pepperoni.) I realized the closest thing to what I was used to was margherita pizza. And that was my first experience of margherita pizza. There was another pizza I tried that even had french fries on top! How awesome is that? (Okay, maybe it’s not that cool, but I think most eleven-year-olds would have the same reaction as I did.)

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I may not have gone to Naples, a place famous for its pizza, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the pizza there in Sorrento. The best pizza I’ve had is definitely from Italy—there’s just something about it that just feels so… authentic! Although, New York may attempt to compete for that coveted “best pizza” spot… who knows?

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When we decided to share this recipe, my mom jumped at the opportunity to use some of the basil we’ve grown in our backyard. She was so excited, I just had to snap a picture of her running out of the kitchen, to our backyard, and picking it.

My mom would always make this vegan flatbread with Italian-inspired ingredients. I would always be so excited when I’d hear her say she was going to make it for dinner. When I first got my braces on, I wanted to cry because it meant I couldn’t eat it easily. (To the ire of my orthodontist, I did it anyway.) But now that my braces are off, I don’t need to worry about it anymore!

So forget what I said earlier. I think I already found the best pizza in the world.

It’s the one my mom makes.

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Vegetarian Flatbread with Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

Good for 3 people.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 eggplant, cut in rounds
  • 1 can artichoke slices
  • 1 small tomato
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 flatbread (can be substituted with pita or naan bread)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and olive oil. Process until puréed.
  3. Wash and cut the eggplant and cut it in 1/4 inch round slices
  4. Place the eggplants in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it stand for about 15 minutes to rid of excess water and for a less bitter taste.
  5. Drain the artichokes from the can and set aside. Slice the tomato thinly.
  6. Brush the bread with olive oil and spread the kalamata mixture.
  7. Layer the bread with eggplants, artichokes, and tomato. Brush with olive oil if desired.
  8. Place the pizza in the oven and cook for about 12 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted and the bread is crispy.

Quinoa Cereal (with Pecans)

Happy Monday! (I honestly never thought I’d say those words… ever!) They always say you should start your day off with breakfast since it’s the most important meal of the day and all that other stuff. But, what do you do if you (gasp!) don’t like breakfast? You look for a better, more exciting breakfast food! Take this quinoa cereal, for example—it uses one of my favorite grains!

Back when I was originally trying to go weekday vegetarian in the winter, I began frantically searching for vegetarian/vegan recipes that could sustain me from Monday through Friday (and possibly even on the weekends). I ended up finding an incredibly interesting concept—quinoa cereal! It was originally a vegetarian recipe being reposted on a vegan challenge (advising to just substitute cow’s milk for soy milk).

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At the time, I really wanted to try quinoa. (Turns out, of course, that I’ve had it many times before, but I never knew.) I ran to my mom, demanding that we try this recipe… especially since my mom and I both hate breakfast (wonder what I got that from…?). The only difference was that we used raspberries way back in December instead of blueberries now.

That ended up being my first food picture using the camera I still use today. I still look back at it and feel proud, despite some of its flaws. My photography has definitely improved since then (no more reliance on auto “food” mode!) and I know how to better set up food pictures.

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This quinoa cereal is completely vegan, but if you’re not a fan of rice milk (or the alternate organic soy milk), you can use organic 1% milk. Personally, I’m still scarred from some of the vegan documentaries I watched (like Vegucated, which is amazing by the way) to NOT use a milk alternative, especially when there’s no real difference in taste. (That, and milk sometimes makes my stomach hurt…) Personally, I think rice milk has the best taste with this recipe, but soy milk is good in here too.

Also, you can switch out agave nectar for local honey. We didn’t have any agave nectar, so my mom’s local honey was all we had. (Local honey, especially in your tea, is a great alternative to sugar, plus it helps with seasonal allergies.) Of course, if you would prefer not to use honey, agave nectar is always a good alternative.

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Quinoa Cereal with Pecans

Adapted from 101 Cookbook’s Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice milk (or organic soy milk)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup organic quinoa (rinse first!)
  • 1 cup organic blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • drizzle of agave nectar or local honey

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, water, and rinsed quinoa in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over low heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes (or until most of the liquid is absorbed).
  4. Turn off the heat, cover, then let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and cinnamon.
  6. Transfer to individual bowls and sprinkle pecans and possibly pomegranate seeds. End with a drizzle of agave nectar/honey on each bowl to taste.

Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi

At Me So Hungry in Austin, I tried the lemongrass tofu banh mi—my personal favorite from the truck. With the help of my mom, I have a new recipe today… our take on the banh mi we tried! You can read the full review here.

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I first tried banh mi last summer in San Francisco, where the Asian American Donor Program introduced it to me as a Vietnamese sandwich. Excited to be surrounded by all the delicious Asian food of the Bay Area, I was incredibly depressed to hear I was being fed a sandwich. I mean, I was only gonna be there for a little less than two days!

Turns out, those “Vietnamese sandwiches” were some of the best banh mi I’ve ever had. And so began my love affair with banh mi, one of the few Vietnamese dishes I can point out and say, “I know that! And I like to eat it!” (Disclaimer: As much as I’d like to consider myself a “food connoisseur” of some sort and try to pretend I’m one, especially on here, I can’t honestly say I am.)

After some trouble with jalapeños at Me So Hungry—and in San Francisco, for that matter!—we decided NOT to include any of that vile, hell-bringing pepper. Instead, we have lemongrass. Beautiful, beautiful lemongrass.

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Lemongrass is an incredibly amazing, fragrant grass used in Asian cuisine. Its fresh, clean, lemony aroma smells heavenly. Personally, I’d love to have some lemongrass in the kitchen just to smell. All the time.

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The best part of this banh mi is that it’s pretty much all vegetables. By choosing to eat vegetarian—whether every day, on weekdays, on Mondays, or just a meal here or there—you’d think eating mostly vegetables would be a requirement. Well… not really. You can still fill yourself with processed, fake “meat” that makes you feel much, much worse than having wild-caught salmon or organic chicken. Trust me, I know. I went the super-processed route a little after I started eating mostly vegetarian, and it wasn’t pleasant.

If you really want to feel good while eating vegetarian, you need to be eating a meal where you can see the veggies. Thankfully, this banh mi is nearly all vegetables.

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This is also probably a good time to mention that this recipe calls for mayonnaise, the only vegan offender. But don’t worry, you can fix that by swapping out low-fat mayo for a good vegan alternative. Personally, I refuse to eat non-vegan mayonnaise… mostly because I hate the taste and the thought of what it’s made of. Definitely use vegan mayo. It’s better that way. (You can thank me later.)

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It’s also important to buy ORGANIC tofu, since soy is nearly always GMO (genetically modified organism)! Geez, I feel like this post unloaded all the stops, from organic food to processed food to even vegan mayo. In order to not bog down this recipe with all sorts of preachy stuff, I’ll move on.DSC_0207

This banh mi is great for all meals, but lunch would probably be best… just like any submarine sandwich, except this one is Vietnamese! Actually, banh mi is an infusion of both local Vietnamese and the colonizing French cultures, making it a nice East Meets West meal. Naturally I feel personally connected to the banh mi.

I know you probably only came here for the pictures and the recipe so I’ll let you go. If you decide to give it a try, be sure to comment below and tell me how it went! I’d love to know!

Also, you can stay connected with us through RSS, Facebook, and Twitter by using the links at the bottom and side of the page. On top of that, you can sign up for our email newsletters (I promise you won’t get spammed)!

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Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi

For the pickled daikon and carrots

Note: Needs to be made 3 to 7 days ahead of time.

  • 2 cups daikon, sliced in thin strips
  • 2 cups matchstick carrots
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

For the tofu marinade

Note: Be sure to marinate the tofu overnight.

  • 1 package extra-firm organic tofu, sliced in rectangular sizes
  • 4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 bulb lemongrass (use top third), finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Drain the tofu from its package, and wrap it in dry towels to rid of excess water. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then slice in rectangular sizes. Marinate the tofu overnight (or up to two days) with the soy sauce, lemongrass, garlic, and sugar in a ziplock bag.

Ingredients

For the cilantro mayonnaise

  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise (or low fat mayo)
  • ½ juice of a half lemon (small)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sriracha (optional)

Other ingredients

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 loaves Mexican bolillos bread or French baguettes
  • slices of cucumber (preferably hothouse), sliced diagonally
  • sprigs of cilantro

Directions

  1. Make the pickled daikon and carrots 3 to 7 days ahead of time. (Directions above.)
  2. Marinate the tofu overnight. (Directions above.)
  3. Combine the cilantro mayonnaise ingredients in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until needed.
  4. Heat a griddle (preferably one with ridges) with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, fry the tofu slices on both sides until brown.
  5. Remove the tofu from the pan and place on a plate. Lightly dab the tofu with a paper towel if oily.
  6. Toast the bread, then cut in half.
  7. Generously spread both sides of the bread with cilantro mayonnaise.
  8. Layer the bread in the following order: a few slices of cucumber, 1 to 2 tofu slices, a handful of pickled daikon and carrots, and a few sprigs of cilantro.

Vegetarian Pajeon (Korean Pancakes)

I think Korean food is just naturally yummy. From all-you-can-eat samgyeopsal—which is pretty much the only meat I’ll really and truly miss!—to freshly-cooked bibimbap. Korea seems to produce a lot of good stuff: K-Pop idols, pajeon, samgyeopsal, K-dramas, pajeon… Whoops. I guess it shows you what I’ve been thinking about lately: pajeon, or Korean pancakes. Not like I’m ever not thinking of food. (Wait, what?)

My mom makes a really good vegetarian pajeon. She came up with the recipe herself, so it’s pretty unique.

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I love these Korean pancakes so much because you can actually see and taste the vegetables inside. Taste them. I think a lot of vegetarian dishes forget about the fact that “vegetarianism” and “vegetables” should go hand-in-hand. Instead, veggie burgers and fake meats get pushed on me, and I always have to push back with a big “Yuck! Those are disgusting!”

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Two of the key ingredients for both the sauce and the pancake batter are gochujang (hot pepper paste) and the vegetable pancake mix. You should be able to find them at any Korean market or general Asian market. Please please please don’t forget these—your Korean pancakes just won’t be the same without them! I’m trying to save you from impending culinary doom!

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Watching Mom make it, I realized that it’s not actually that difficult. Also, it tastes good. Very good.

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We experimented a little on the sauce, adding gochujang to it for some more flavor. Luckily, nothing exploded… except the flavor. At least you’ll have a unique sauce to go with your Korean pancakes!

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Vegetarian Pajeon (Korean Pancakes)

Ingredients

For the sesame soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ½ tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste) ~ this is optional, but it makes it unique! It tastes great, too!

For the pancakes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable pancake mix
  • 2 cups water ~ you may need more or less depending on the package directions for the vegetable pancake mix
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly julienned
  • 2 small-sized zucchini squash, thinly julienned OR 1 large zucchini, thinly julienned
  • 3 cups matchstick carrots
  • 3 stalks green onions, chopped

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine ingredients for sesame soy sauce and mix. Add in half of the chopped green onions as well as sesame seeds, then set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet.
  3. Place 2 cups vegetable pancake mix with 2 cups of water in a bowl. If your package of vegetable pancake mix wants you to use a different amount of water, follow their instructions instead. Mix well until there are no lumps. Then mix in the gochujang.
  4. Add vegetables into the batter. Mix well.
  5. Scoop out ½ cup of batter mixture and pour into the skillet.
  6. Fry the batter mixture on both sides until browned and crispy.
  7. Serve with the sesame soy sauce and enjoy!