Fire Noodles & Mongolian Style Tofu

These days I’m loving the mix & match meals that my partner and I have been enjoying. What is a ‘mix & match’ meal, you ask?

Easy, it’s a meal that can actually be two separate meals but you decide to put’em together to create something vegan and delicious. Some people, fancier people than me, might call it fusion but it’s not meant to be a modern statement on any particular cuisine type or anything like that, just a way for the greedy vegan in you to enjoy two things at once.

My hubs wanted Mongolian style vegan beef and fire noodles, and he asked which one would be easier to make and since he was so sweet to ask…I made them both.

The recipe name might not be pretty and to be honest, my photos leave A LOT to be desired. But what you really want to know is, was it delicious?

Hell yeah, it was!

You might think that making two separate dishes is more time consuming, but it’s not. Well, not as long as you do a little bit of prep work.

Step one: Gather your ingredients

I made enough for two adults who eat proper portion sizes, so use that as your best estimate for how much to use, or sign up for Cronometer or any other calorie tracking app. If you’re not there yet, consult the nutrition information on the package.

Step Two: Hydrate the TVP
Obviously if you’re using tofu or seitan or tempeh, you can just follow those instructions, but I used TVP so if you do that, I recommend getting it going as early as possible.

Step Three: Cook ginger, onion, chili pepper, garlic & scallions
I didn’t use any oil, just a bit of water to get it going before seasoning, but cook your veggies how you like.

Step Four: Add TVP to air fryer
I wanted the soy to be nice and crispy before adding it to the vegetables and sauce, if you want it less crispy, drain the TVP and toss it right in once the vegetables are done.

Step Five & Six: Make the SAUCE
The Mongolian sauce is soy sauce based with brown sugar and a cornstarch slurry to thicken. I added chili peppers and Korean chili flakes to spice it up, but you can add ketchup or bbq sauce or premade teriyaki sauce if you like.

For the fire noodles, I used Korean chili paste, butter, tomato paste, spicy mustard and water to thin out the sauce just enough that it was easy to toss the ramen noodles with it.

and there you have it, a quick and easy vegan dinner that will satisfy your craving for noodles, Mongolian beef or just Asian food in general. Don’t be afraid to improvise and taste as you go along.

What’s your favorite vegan mix & match meal?

Sweet & Spicy Apricot Mushrooms & Tofu Vegan Dinner

I don’t know about you guys, but I love to cook. I don’t have a problem with blasting some music or listening to a true crime podcast while I get busy in the kitchen. Whether it’s making my favorite dessert from scratch–brownies–or any other thing that’s asked of me, I’ll do it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m all that creative in the kitchen. I will mix and match with the best of’em. For example, I recently made Jerk Cabbage Ramen and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. But vegan cooking isn’t my main job, or even my second job. It’s more of a passion so when it comes to creativity, I have no problem looking to others for inspiration.

One of my favorite vegan food blogs is Rabbit & Wolves because they have tons of unique vegan recipes and they’re just complicated enough to be challenging without pissing me off. So a few weeks back I was scrolling through recipes in search of something delicious and made with mushrooms, and most importantly, something I hadn’t eaten in the past, oh I don’t know, six months.

And that’s when I spotted it. Sticky. Apricot. Mushrooms.

Yep, you heard me right. I was like, “what?” And then I immediately knew what I wanted my partner to make on our next Midnight Tokyo Diner night. But when that night rolled around, there were no apricots and no apricot jam anywhere in the house, because who the heck keeps apricot jam on hand?

Vegan Mushroom Mapo Tofu

If you’ve never heard of Mapo Tofu, then you are in for a real treat. I came across video by Wil Yeung on YouTube and you know what happened next? That’s right, it ended up on my plate a few days later!

For those of you not in the know, Mapo Tofu is a Chinese dish from the Sichuan province . It is delicious and spicy and pretty easy to make. And best of all? Easy to make completely vegan.

The key to this vegan version of mapo tofu is perfectly cooked crimini mushrooms. I like to start the mushrooms in the oven and finish’em off on top of the stove so you get that nice crispy earthy flavor on the outside and a nice bit of moisture on the inside.

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.

My Attempt at Vegan Okonomiyaki

I’m ba-aack! Did you miss me?

Work had gotten a little out of control and I needed to focus so I decided to take a few days away from posting but now I’m back and ready to share with you my version of a healthy-ish vegan okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese vegetable pancake.

I will tell you right off the bat that this recipe seems a lot more daunting than it actually is. Don’t let the long, but not complicated, ingredients list scare you away. To veganize his recipe takes just as much time as the original version, which means the prep work is where most of your time will be taken up, so if you’re willing to put in the effort, let’s do this!

I’ll tell you right up front that presentation is (still) not my strong suit but this vegan pancake did come out delicious and cooked properly, even if she isn’t the prettiest girl on the dance floor.

Let’s start with the ingredients. I’m feeling a little lazy so I just copy and pasted the ingredients list I posted in Cronometer, which works out well because now you’ll have exact measurements too.

This ingredients list includes EVERYTHING you see in the first image, so it includes the Asian slaw and the Korean style tofu, because I like to mix and match my food, my clothes, my languages and my fashion. Oh, and my music!

The first step is grating potatoes, cabbage and scallions for the batter and put them in a bowl. Add flour and water, just enough water to make it smushy, which I know is super vague but I realized as I was writing this hat I didn’t include water in the ingredients. The batter is going to seem wrong, like it’s not nearly enough to produce a pancake, which was exactly what I thought. But I listened to those who know better than I do, if you don’t include all the substitutions, that is. Mix it well and refrigerate it for 10 to 30 minutes. I think this step helped everything come together, so please don’t skip it.

Oil a skillet and pour enough for one large pancake, use a wooden spoon to create a nice little pancake shape and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side. This type of pancake should be very vegetable-y, so don’t be discouraged that this isn’t anything like your fluffy breakfast pancakes…it’s not supposed to be!

Looking at that one little vegan Japanese pancake seems sad, right? Yeah, I thought so too which is why I rounded out the meal with two little side dishes. One was a cabbage, carrot & scallion slaw mixed with veggiegurt, Sriracha and plenty of herbs & spices. The other was a small bit of TVP mixed with some Asian pastes & sauces to create a full on vegan meal…Asian style.

The sauce you see on top of the vegan okonomiyaki, is the leftover veggiegurt mixture because, who doesn’t love a little sauce with dinner?

This is a great vegan meal for when you want to impress someone, but like someone who already likes you a lot and will feel really special that you went through all this trouble for them. On top of that, it was very tasty and worth the time and effort because now I can say, “Yeah I totally know how to cook vegan okonomiyaki.”

So concludes another Midnight Tokyo Diner meal in our household. If you try this, please oh please send photos here to the blog or on Facebook or Instagram if you’re feeling frisky!

Thanks for stopping by and enjoying another vegan meal with me!

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!

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.

 

Korean Fried Tofu & Creamy Ginger Slaw

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all of the time, a girl just has to have take out. Unless of course she is visiting several small towns in an eastern European country–and she’s vegan–then she just has to get in the kitchen and make it herself. Or himself.

This recipe, was all me, inspired by a delicious meal I had in Koreatown when I lived in Los Angeles.

Back then I ate…everything. Literally. I had only been working as a freelancer for a year or so, nose to the grind while I drummed up writing work. Any and all kinds of work. During this time I struck up a friendship with a Korean woman named Soo (pronounced like: Sue) and she introduced me to this amazing place in Koreatown. This restaurant knew customer service, let me tell you! There were about a dozen little glass dishes filled with kimchi and a variety of other vegetables and meats and I was delighted! Everything was so new and delicious and exciting and by the end of that two hour lunch, I had fallen in love with yet another style of Asian cuisine.

Longing for a similar, but vegan, meal in a place where there’s decent Chinese is about as hollow a wish as one can make, but I have a working kitchen and a pretty impressive spice rack so…I went to town.

And created…Korean Fried Tofu & Creamy Ginger Slaw!

The important thing about this recipe is to spice it how you like it. I like mine spicy and even though the hubs doesn’t, I like to whip up two batches of sauce just in case. 🙂

Let’s start with the tofu, which I pressed for about 10 minutes while I chopped all the veggies for the slaw. I’m not certain my way is the right way (it is), but I wrap the tofu in a paper towel and put something heavy on it, like my salt mill or jar of jalapenos. Then I used a variety of Asian or Asian inspired spices–Korean chili flakes, cayenne pepper, garam masala, ginger, lemongrass–along with soy sauce as a marinade. Since I shallow fried the tofu, I coated it with a flour-corn starch blend because I wanted it extra crispy before tossing it into the sauce.

While the tofu was crisping up in a skillet, I got to work on the slaw, which included:

Cucumber

Napa cabbage

Scallions

Ginger (fresh, raw)

Red & yellow bell pepper

Celery (very thinly sliced)

Mint

I squeeze half a lemon over the top while I made the slaw and massaged it in. The slaw sauce was made of vegan yogurt, sriracha, spicy brown mustard, 2 tsp. coconut sugar, lime juice, cumin and freshly grated garlic & ginger. I really wanted to make it a kimchi slaw but my new spices are on their way!

Toss and set aside.

Give the tofu about 5 to 7 minutes on each side and drain any excess oil. If you go easy on the oil there shouldn’t be much to drain, but you don’t want all the sauce sliding off the tofu!

For this sauce, I used Hoisin, canned peaches because I couldn’t find any fresh ones, dark soy sauce, Sriracha, chili flakes and black pepper. Toss the tofu in the sauce and plate, then sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like.

The thing I love most about this dish is that the fried tofu lets you indulge in something that feels extremely decadent but the crunchy fresh slaw gives you heaps of fresh veggies to discount any guilt you feel. But don’t feel guilty, enjoy it and promise to do better tomorrow!

Simple Vegan Stir Fry

When you’ve made the commitment to eat healthy and minimize how often you eat out, you have to be honest with yourself. For me, that means owning up to the fact that I don’t always want to cook or I’m just not in the mood to get all chef-y with it. When that happens, I grab a few fresh veggies and the nearest bag of rice to whip up a super simple stir fry.

 

The best thing about stir fry–aside from the mountains of fresh nutrient rich vegetables–is that you can use whatever is fresh, in season and on hand.

I made a stop at the Farmer’s Market and found a bunch of asparagus and some broccoli, and that got me started since I already had crimini mushrooms, carrots, onion, bell peppers, ginger and garlic in the fridge. And that’s pretty much the whole ingredients list.

I like to start with the ginger in the oil and then add mushrooms and whatever herbs you want to flavor them while the water cooks out. Then add ingredients from longest cook time to shortest until everything is in the pot and reached desired doneness. If you want to whip up a quick sauce you can start with a soy sauce base, and add orange or lime juice, Sriracha or barbecue sauce, sweet & sour and pretty much anything else to satisfy your cuisine craving.

But a fun little thing I’d never heard of before–Ramsons–also made an appearance in this meal. Ramsons are a type of wild garlic but they look a lot like scallions. My mother in law brought me a few bunches and I decided to do what else but…make pesto!

We didn’t have any of the wild garlic but that’s okay because these leaves are SUPER garlicky. Super, super garlicky, but that didn’t stop me from adding half a bulb of roasted garlic to the pesto, along with a few cashews, lemon juice, 2 sun dried tomatoes, hot sauce and a handful of basil. It was tangy, tart, earthy and yes, delicious.

It gave the stir fry a really nice kick with just a couple teaspoons on each plate.

This is another recipe where you can easily choose to cook without oil. Add a little water once the mushrooms start releasing it and keep adding about a tablespoon at a time as needed until the veggies are cooked. It’s not an exact science but if you’re curious, stir fry is a very forgiving dish.

If you decide to use a pre-made sauce for your stir fry, taking a close look at the ingredients list. You might find things like honey, milk powder, egg powder or other conservants you might not want to ingest. If you’re in a bind, my old standby sauce is just equal parts water and soy sauce, a minced scallion, Sriracha and lime juice. Coat the mix with cornstarch and add the soy-water mix, cooking until thick.

Done and done, again in less than 30 minutes!