Vegan Fusion: Falafel Ball Noodle Soup

When it comes to cuisine, I’d love to say that I have no rules. But I do. A lot, in fact. Except when I want something that goes against the rules, in which case I’m the first to proclaim that the evolution of cuisine always starts with someone doing something they aren’t “supposed” to do.

And you know what, I’m totally fine with that because sometimes you just want what you want, and in this day and age when so many of us are spending more time than ever in the house, less time eating out at restaurants and all that jazz, rules must be broken once in a while.

Or longer…whatever you prefer.

Speaking of, let me introduce you to a Pho Style falafel ball rice noodle soup, my own vegan contribution to the vegan fusion movement. (Is it a movement or am I making that up?)

Let’s start with the falafel balls because they went in the oven and they needed time to cook and crisp up.

Falafel Ball Ingredients:

Chickpeas (rinsed & drained & dried)
Scallion
Ginger
Garlic
Smoky & Spicy paprika

Place all the ingredients into a food processor until you get a crumbly mixture. If you’re not sure whether it’s crumbly enough, scoop some into your hands and press it together. If it sticks, it’s good. I recommend you pop it into the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s not totally necessary.

Form into uniform balls, whatever size you prefer, and lay out on a baking sheet at 180c/375f for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown & crispy.

That’s it. Pretty easy, right?

For the soup, I started with another batch of waste free broth as the broth base.

You will also need: onion, bell pepper, garlic, mung bean sprouts, tomato paste, soybean paste coconut milk, soy sauce and Pad Thai rice noodles.

Start with a big pot and give the vegetables a light saute for a few minutes and then add soybean and tomato paste, stirring until everything looks kind of messy. Then it’s time to add the broth! Stir well until everything breaks apart and starts to resemble a soup. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the flavors are what you want.

Cook the noodles according to the package and drop them in your bowl first. Top with broth & veggie mixture and then falafel balls and you are–technically–ready to put it in your belly.

But you can also add garnishes such as jalapeno peppers, basil leaves, lime juice, Sriracha & soy sauce.

And there you have it, my own little twist on vegan fusion food and Asian fusion although I guess it should be vegan Asian-Middle Eastern fusion? That’s a mouthful but not as much as this delicious soup, which I will totally add to the rotation, using all kinds of vegan ball varieties.

Easy Vegan Char-fu (Vegan Char Siu)

I know, I know, you’re shocked to see yet another noodle dish from me.

Cue: your shocked face!

Seriously though, with everything going on in the world sometimes you just want a dish that brings you comfort and for me that is usually Asian noodles. They are versatile so you can get super fancy with it or do it up as simple as you like. This particular dish is a play on char siu, but obviously we’re not going to be using adorable pigs in our vegan meal, so we relied on good ol’ TVP to get the job done.

This vegan dish is all about the seasoning (and the noodles) but mostly the seasoning.

I don’t know about where you guys are–feel free to tell me where you are while reading this in the comments–but even if we were eating out these days, the suburbs of Bucharest aren’t exactly a haven for vegan cuisine, which means I can get all the Asian food I want right here in the comfort of my kitchen.

Now, you can too!

What you’ll need:

Onion
Bok Choy
Garlic
Chow Mein noodles
TVP
Peanut oil
Napa cabbage
Soy Sauce
Scallions
Hot sauce

Cook the TVP as indicated, same with the noodles.

Drain the TVP and season it, then pop it into the air fryer, oven or just fry it in a skillet, the choice is yours.

Add peanut oil to a pan or skillet and cook onion, bok choy, ginger and garlic until done, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like it. Add soy sauce and hot sauce, then toss with crispy soya.

Serve on a bed of your favorite noodles and garnish with fresh, thin sliced scallions.

This quick and easy vegan meal should take you 30 minutes or less in the kitchen, but if you’re feeling like going there, feel free to share your fancier version of vegan Char-fu!

Beyond Meatball Noodle Soup (Vegan)

Can we all just agree that it is incredibly difficult to rename dishes you’ve been using for a lifetime? It is probably one of the most difficult parts of writing this blog, and I constantly find myself using too many descriptors or not enough. Or you end up with the redundancy of saying “vegan” everything. But when it came to this particular meal, the name almost wrote itself.

Beyond Meat is only one of two vegan meat alternatives that are available to me here in Romania, the other is a local brand, Verdino and they only make mici, deli slices and salami. That made it pretty easy to use the word ‘meatball’ and have it accurately apply. But that’s enough about the name of this dish, right? Let’s get down this incredibly delicious vegan noodle recipe.

This is an easy vegan recipe that you can make in less than 30 minutes and you can use whatever you have in your fridge and pantry.

Start with the Beyond Burgers and just add: minced garlic and ginger, smoky paprika, Ancho chili flakes and soy sauce. Use vegan Worcestershire if you have it, but I am currently waiting on a shipment of items that include vegan Worcestershire…still. My brand comes from the UK but if any of you have recommendations, drop them in the comments section!

Mix everything together in a bowl and form into small-ish, bite sized cruelty free meatballs.

I was feeling lazy so i popped them in the oven on 225°C for about 15 to 18 minutes and as you can see, they became nice and crispy without losing any of that signature juiciness that defines them.

The soup part of the equation was simple: my new favorite thing, waste-free vegan broth! You might need to add a little of this and a little of that to get the right flavor profile, but it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

As you can see, I made Udon noodles for my husband and Ramen noodles for myself because we have different tastes and it was no big deal to make two types. Cook the noodles according to the package, just using broth instead of plain old water.

Garnish with fresh scallions, lime juice and Sriracha and voila, a quick and easy vegan lunch guaranteed to satisfy your appetite.

Healthy tip: If you love Ramen noodles the way I do, then you probably REALLY love how calorie friendly they are, right? Well you’ll have to weigh the Ramen after you cook them to get the most accurate calorie count. Those little 60 gram packages total up to about 150 grams once cooked. Don’t take my word for it though, invest in a food scale. This is the one I have. It’s basic but it gets the job done. Oh, and it’s battery operated.

And if you’re feeling a little grown up, add a cocktail. I totally just used this opportunity to break out the new rum, though. It wasn’t completely necessary but appreciated and satisfying.

This was just ice cold rum with lime zest and brown sugar on the rim. It was delicious and refreshing, especially if you like a little heat with your favorite Ramen noodle soup.

What is your go to noodle soup recipe?

 

Pickled Carrot Udon Noodles

One of life’s greatest gifts, as far as this home chef is concerned, is noodles. Asian noodles or pasta, you name it and I love it. Crave it. Make it often.

Noodles, in general, are an easy go to for a lazy or busy vegan. Just add veggies and you’re good to go!

For this particular meal, I took a quick but flavorful route.

pickled carrot udon noodles

My plan started out simple enough: get a good oil-free caramelization on the leeks, ginger and garlic, toss with udon noodles and sauce. Top with pickled carrots & scallions. The End. Somehow the soya strips got added and here we are, so this is what you do.

What you’ll need:

Udon noodles (I prefer Sukina brand fresh noodles but use what you can find), TVP or tofu or your favorite protein, carrots, ginger, garlic, scallions, lemons, leeks, curry and seasonings.

When it comes to choosing ingredients for your noodle dish, stick to what you like and what you know…and do NOT be afraid of your vegetables! I had intended to keep this simple, no soya pieces but somehow they ended up in the dish anyway.

Shave the carrots & thinly slice the scallions and toss into a small bowl. Add salt, black pepper, lemon juice (at least 1, maybe 1.5 lemons’ worth), agave syrup or other sweetener, cider or rice vinegar. Toss until coated and set aside, giving it a good mix every now and again for an even quick pickling.

spicy pickled udon vegan noodles

Next, take the leeks, ginger and garlic and saute until done, about 10 minutes, adding herbs and spices like curry, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, garam masala, during the cooking process. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions and toss with leek mixture.

Top with pickled carrots and extra scallions and you’ve got a quick vegan lunch and a pretty awesome carb fix on your hands!

Catching Up in My Vegan Kitchen…from Romania!

It’s been awhile and I know it. I’m sorry. I hope everyone is safe, indoors and finding fun ways to keep busy.

The truth is that I have been cooking, quite a bit lately, I’ve just been very lazy about writing up posts and selecting photos. Some days I just forgot to take photos altogether, but I don’t want that to turn into a habit, so let’s play a little bit of catch up, shall we?

I rarely posts desserts, not because I don’t make them because I do…a lot. But I am not a good food photographer, not yet anyway. But this little creation was chocolate biscuits (#accidentallyvegan), ripe bananas, peanut butter, cocoa powder and dark brown sugar with orange zest on top. Layered. It’s pretty to look at and it was a crowd-pleaser for vegans and non-vegans alike.

I know it’s spring time and not really the season for soups but one night my husband chose French onion soup as his Midnight Tokyo Diner option which meant I had to make it because sneaky man that he is, made sure there were heaps of yellow and white onions in the pantry.

I think it came out pretty well, probably the best I’ve made so far even thought it was greasier than I would’ve liked. Soon I’ll do a post with the full recipe because I think you might like it.

Gyro night!!! This was a fun night and yeah, you bet your sweet little booty that it was also time-consuming. Making seitan is never a quick endeavor but this was SO worth it. So. Worth. It.

As I always tell my non-vegan friends, proteins are always about the seasonings. Try to eat any protein without salt & pepper. Or any type of sausage without garlic or cumin or caraway. This seitan gyro loaf was no different. I used fennel, garlic, smoky paprika, cumin, fenugreek, ancho chili pepper and a bunch of other spices to get the loaf just right. To round the vegan gyros out, I used mushrooms and onions sauteed with the seitan after it’s simmering session.

Balsamic salad on the side with a vegan lemon and cucumber yogurt sauce, and this vegan gyro night was super fun!

And no list of what I’ve been cooking is complete without some type of Asian creation and this time we have Pho. I used TVP which, in my opinion, is a feat of genius. Seriously, I call it Star Trek meat, a name that never fails to make my husband laugh. It takes on the flavor of whatever you want it to so easily, in this case the yummy spices of a vegan Pho broth. Soy and balsamic soaked crimini mushrooms and generic ramen noodles round out this dish.

The real question is…what have you been up to? Cooking? Relaxing? Trying not to freak out?

Easy Vegan Chow Fun

One of the things I love most about sharing a life with someone who’s life experiences are so different than my own, is sharing those experiences. But even better than that, is making those experiences ours.

Wondering what I’m talking about? Tokyo Diner night…again!

It was my pick of the night and I chose Chow Fun. Remember back in the day when you’d go to a certain type of Chinese restaurant and they’d advertise Cantonese Chow Fun noodles? Well that was probably the start of my love/obsession with Asian cuisine and it was one that, after 15 years, I hadn’t shared with The Hubs.

How crazy, right?

Anyway, I love Chow Fun because it’s simple and it’s fast, and you can use whatever you have on hand to make it a meal.

Your basic Chow Fun recipe has sprouts, beef, scallions and noodles. So if you have a vegan protein to replace the beef, you’re good to go. But if you’re feeling adventurous (or hungry) you can add snowpeas, leeks, carrots, broccoli or whatever else you want. We kept it simple, mostly because The Hubs went way overboard with the dehydrated soya so we didn’t need much else.

The key to a good Chow Fun dish is cooking it quick and high, preferably in a Wok. Even if you don’t have a wok, none of these ingredients need to cook for a long time. They’re vegetables!

We lucked out when it came to the noodles. It’s hard to find real Chow Fun noodles here but we had these long lasagna-like noodles that were the perfect replacement and I didn’t even have to tell my husband that’s what I was hoping he’d use. How awesome, right?

Finally, there’s the sauce. Sesame oil is an ingredient but you can take it as easy or as heavy as you want. Combine it with soy sauce (we used light and dark), a pinch of sugar (optional), Xiaoxing wine and a pinch of spice if desired.

Add the soya first until it’s cooked how you want, then add onions/scallions and cook another few minutes. Once all the veggies are close to desired done-ness, add wine around the rim of the pan and then the soy and wine mixture. Add bean sprouts.

Stir/toss until cook through and serve over those yummy Chow Fun noodles.

This is another quick and easy vegan meal that anyone can cook. And best of all, if you do all the prep work you can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Add vegetables and spices as desired and feel free to share your version below!

Easy Vegan Meals In A Pinch ~ Mix & Match Asian

If you were to listen to some of the conversations I have with my friends you notice two things. The first is that I often sound like a broken record because, well what’s true is…true. The second is that they have a hard time understanding how I overcome my love of variety while eating a vegan diet. (Now the broken record thing makes sense, doesn’t it?)

But other than frustration those conversations were the inspiration for today’s post. Well that and the actual meal itself.

Variety, on any diet, starts with your spice rack/cabinet/drawer or whatever, at least in my opinion. If you have a fully developed space for herbs and spices you can turn mashed potatoes (for example) into curry mashed potatoes. Or Asian inspired fries. It is also how a healthy vegan can eat everything and never, ever get bored.

Even when it’s the day before grocery day and you realize your cute little Tokyo diner idea means you sometimes run out of food earlier, and you simply have to make do with what’s on hand.

There were two directives for this particular meal: Asian & Mushrooms.

That made things easy. Sort of. There was about 300 grams of mixed brown & white mushrooms in the fridge along with half a head of cauliflower, bell peppers and scallions, which I love to put in my salads. Not the most exciting ingredients but this is where your spice rack won’t let you down.

Start with Asian basics: garlic, ginger and lemongrass. I find lemongrass pretty hard to find around here and the only grocery store in my town that has it is inside a mall which is a big heaping helping of no thanks for me unless we need to stock up on vegan junk food like cheese and luncheon style slices. So let’s stick with garlic and ginger. Add any or all of the following: soy sauce (or Worcestershire if you want to change it up a bit), tomato paste, lime juice, Sriracha, chili peppers, sesame seeds, miso paste. Take your ingredients and put them in a small mixing bowl. Add a starch & water mix to it and when the veggies are ready, toss it on top.

Boil, then simmer until thick and serve it over rice. Delicious Asian style vegan food in 30 minutes. Totally doable.

Your spice rack will never let you down and if you have a cabinet full of grains, you can experiment with different types of rice or you can test out different Asian noodles with recipes like this.

Tweak the ingredients and you can turn this into an Indian or Thai style curry. Add lemon and herbs instead and turn this into a Mediterranean style veggie & rice dish.  The point is to experiment, get creative and hit up the Google Machine for inspiration. It’s out there and once you start, you won’t be able to go back.

If you want to add extra spice…don’t be afraid to dice up a jalapeno or any other spicy pepper and toss it in with the other veggies. Or if you’re cooking for those who can’t handle the heat, it’s a perfect garnish when mixed with mint and parsley.

Fiery Vegan Udon Noodles

It’s no secret how much I LOVE noodles. I make at least one Asian dish a week…okay I make at least three but that’s all right because between me and the husband we cook pretty much every day of the week.

One of the things I appreciate about our Tokyo Midnight Diner meals is that I get to see my husband’s take on some of my favorite dishes or on other recipes I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t gotten around to for whatever reason. This fiery udon noodles was one such dish. I asked for Dan Dan noodles, which became a new favorite of mine in 2019 when I decided to kick up my Asian cuisine knowledge to about a thousand. Anyway, I asked for Dan Dan noodles and this was his interpretation of the dish.

What’s great about this dish and most Asian or Asian style dishes is that they don’t need a ton of ingredients to give you a ton of flavor. The ingredient list on fiery vegan udon noodles is pretty simple: scallions, red peppers (bell & capsicum), ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chili flakes, soy sauce, tomato paste and Sriracha. Oh, and udon noodles.

That’s it. Oil is optional as is the Sriracha but we all know how much I love spicy foods!

If you’ve ever made any type of stir-fry then you’re ready to re-create Dan Dan noodles. What that means is that you should prep EVERYTHING before you heat any oil or any skillet. Make sure it’s all ready to go because this dish cooks fast and high. Fast and high, people.

Oil and ginger first and then peppers and scallions. He added the dried soya granules–already re-hydrated–early in the cooking process to make sure they were infused with all the great Asian flavors. When everything is cooked to satisfaction, add soy sauce (or mirin, or tamari), brown sugar (optional and I usually skip it), chili flakes and Sriracha. Make sure to taste it for flavor and as soon as the udon noodles are done, mix well and plate.

A quick tip I learned from Marion’s Kitchen about cooking udon noodles: drop them and mix them on a semi-regular basis but don’t jostle them heavily. Let them separate organically and quickly. It’s a learning process but she does a much better job explaining than I can so hop on over so you don’t mess up your next noodle night!

You can also add toasted sesamee seeds or chopped peanuts as garnish to this dish. I’m still limiting my calories thanks to weight loss so I usually skip these in favor of scallions or chili peppers, but they are delicious and really do add a nice flavor.

We’ve also been experimenting with Chinese black vinegar and Xioaxing wine, so if you have’em feel free to try them and let me know how they turn out!

Crunchy Asian Kitchen Sink Salad

A big part of my weight loss journey was figuring out food. Not just calories and portion sizes, but putting it all together in a way that would satisfy my appetite and my calorie deficit. This took some time. Year One as a vegan and basically all I did was remove all animal products from my kitchen and my plate. Same portion sizes, same oil consumption just no dairy and no animal flesh. I still lost a lot of weight but it was slow going.

The more I learned about eating healthy and combining foods, the more I stopped looking at salad as something to dread. Or endure. In fact, I actually started to like them.

But I mean real salad, not just a few lettuce leaves with a slice of cucumber and a tomato wedge. No, thank you.

I’m talking loads of fresh veggies combined with plenty of other delicious stuff, like this crunchy Asian salad.

This “kitchen sink” salad came out exactly how you might imagine. I had a bunch of leftover bits of ingredients that included red cabbage, green cabbage, edamame, carrots, scallions and daikon radish. Add a handful of ramen noodles to the mix, whip up a sauce and you’ve got an easy, low calorie vegan lunch that won’t zap your energy or your time.

I sliced, grated or julienned every thing and tossed it into a big bowl. The sauce had a rice vinegar base, along with mustard, Korean chili flakes, curry powder, salt, pepper, ginger and garlic. Fresh, dried or in a jar, make it how you like it.

If you believe the hype and you’re concerned about your protein intake (imagine my eye roll right here) then sprinkle a few grams of toasted sesame seeds on top. Your taste buds and muscles will appreciate it.

If you find that your sauce is a little too spicy, cool it down with lemon juice. And don’t be afraid to garnish with soy sauce, or if you’re not keeping a healthy distance from oil like I am, add some sesame oil.

Spicy Soya Bulgogi

Most days I know what I’m going to eat because I am a planner. I plan out the menu each week, create a corresponding grocery list complete with a few snack options for those nights I feel like munching. So yeah, I plan things.

But this week as I sat in the living room waiting for my husband to finished getting dressed while I reconciled with menu with my shopping list app, I found a video for Bulgogi, which I haven’t had since we lived in Los Angeles…a million years ago. Of course this dish was made semi-traditionally and by that, I mean it contained meat, which was no problem because I recently got my hands on Inedit brand textured soya, which I’ve used before but only the big chunks and the cubes. It’s a great dehydrated soy product that you simmer in water to hydrate and then cook per your recipe instructions.

Slowly this vegan bulgogi idea was coming together.

As with any good vegan-ized recipe, you have to be careful because although you can totally make the dish, you might have to juggle around some of the steps to make it work. Step one: get the soy granules into the water and get them going. The package says it needs 20-25 minutes but I think about 10 to 12 is sufficient.

Okay, so here’s the thing about making bulgogi. Mostly it is a spicy beef dish and home cooks like myself often use some sort of ground up product, rather than whole pieces, and you should know up front that I didn’t do a big deep dive into the history of the dish or anything so complicated. I saw a recipe on YouTube and made some adjustments for my plant based diet and weight loss goals.

Now, that’s out of the way…let’s keep going.

My ingredients: shallots, onion, scallions, ginger, Thai curry paste, piripiri peppers, ginger and portobello mushroom caps, just to enhance the satiety of the dish. Oh and I used ramen style noodles instead of rice. And four leftover grape tomatoes for the liquid and lycopene.

The mushrooms went into the skillet first so cook out some of the water before adding the soy texture, which also has some water that you’ll want to cook out for some recipes and keep for others. I planned for a spicy-ish sauce so I wanted them fairly dry. Next went the shallots, onions and ginger.

Add seasoning as you need it, later adding the garlic and tomatoes near the last few minutes of cooking. Then grab a bowl and whip up the bulgogi sauce, which for me contained: soy sauce, That curry paste, hot chili paste, harissa powder, curry, cumin and lemongrass powder. Toss in some water and cornstarch if you want a thicker sauce to coat the noodles, and dump it in the pot…but not before the noodle or rice water gets started cooking.

When you’re ready to put everything together, then you can dump the sauce into the skillet and bring to a boil Simmer until the sauce is thickened and taste for extra flavor. The sesame seeds were a last minute addition after I put the recipe into Cronometer and saw that I had some calorie wiggle room, but in total I added 5 grams of sesame seeds.

 

This is a pretty easy vegan dish to make but like many of my favorite Asian recipes, it does have a bit of prep time. There’s a lot of chopping to be done, so make time for it and you won’t regret it.

I promise!

What recipe do you want to see next? Drop a comment below.

 

Spicy Vegan DanDan Noodles

My noodle addiction strikes again! One night while zoning out and binge watching YouTube videos I came across a recipe for Dan Dan noodles and immediately thought to myself, I have to have it. Soon!

Which meant the next time I hit the market, I grabbed everything I would need for this spicy Chinese Sichuan dish, with a few alterations of course, and prepared to work my magic.

I would have loved to find a better noodle than the Bavete pasta I ended up using, but the only supermarket in town that has a wide selection of Asian noodles had…none. Okay well not none, but there was a basic vermicelli noodle and glass noodles, which have their place and time. It just wasn’t this day and with this vegan Dandan dish.

I replaced the ground meat with crumbled tofu and instead of buying the slightly greasier already ground up version, I pressed a brick of firm tofu and then crumbled it with my fingers. I added a bunch of seasoning to the crumbled tofu including salt & pepper, piri piri powder, ginger, lemongrass powder, Worcestershire and Korean chili flakes, many of which I also used in the sauce. To cook the tofu I used a tablespoon of coconut oil, adding it one teaspoon at a time as needed.

Once it started to brown around the edges, it was time to add the sliced onions, garlic (8 or 9 cloves), ginger and the white stems from some bok choy.

Once the tougher vegetables cooked until they started to crisp around the edges, I tossed in the chopped bok choy greens until they began to wilt. And then I added the delicious sauce which I had to make and tweak so if it’s not perfect, oh well.

I used soy sauce, ground ginger, coconut sugar, tomato paste, gochugaru, Sriracha, grated garlic, water and cornstarch for the sauce. I added a bit more water once the sauce was in the pan just to be sure everything was coated once it was all in the pan together.

In between all this, I worked on a quick garnish and slaw.

This is just about 20 grams of peanuts chopped, a half a scallion sliced on a bias and a few drops of rice wine vinegar to go right on top of your DanDan noodles.

And because this is a pretty spicy dish, at least when I make it, I whipped up a quick slaw to help cool things down for my husband. Not only was it incredibly delicious, but he REALLY appreciated the coolant.

I sliced half a small cucumber on a bias and then halved them lengthwise, sliced a Pink Lady apple, the rest of the scallion from the garnish and about 80 grams of green cabbage. Tossed it with vegan yogurt, cumin, lemon juice and mint and that was it.

Eat up the heat and cool it down with the slaw. It made for a very delicious vegan noodle dish that I will definitely make again and probably tweak about a hundred times until I’m completely satisfied.

Pofta Buna!