Broccoli Ramen with Ginger Soy Gravy

It’s that time again, where my noodle addiction takes over and I am forced to share with you yet another ramen noodle dish. For those of you who love a good vegan Asian noodle dish, here we are again.

For the rest of you, #notsorry!

This recipe is easy and I have more editing to do today, so we’ll make this quick and relatively painless.

If you work from home this is a very easy vegan lunch recipe because it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients but each one is packed with flavor so your taste buds don’t skip a step.

Vegan Pepper Steak Stir-Fry

So this time, we’re starting with a story.

Way back in 1998 , I was an eager high school graduate headed to downstate Illinois for my very first Freshman orientation with my best friend. We visited the entire campus and I was sure–absolutely certain, in fact–that I, of the dubious navigation talents, would be able to get from one class to the next with ease after this two-day trip.

For those of you wondering, it took me two weeks to navigate the campus freely.

But, I digress. On the first day of orientation, lunch was served in what was considered the “freshman dorm cafeteria” where my bestie and I didn’t end up getting a room, but we had a dish I had never had before. Pepper Steak. It wasn’t very good because the steak was tough, but the sauce was spicy and tangy and delicious. My taste buds were intrigued, needless to say and since then, I have recreated it about a dozen times.

This time, I went for something a little different, pepper steak stir-fry with mushrooms and mince instead of tofu or seitan. Let’s see how it went…

It wasn’t until years later, when the internet became A THING, that I looked up a real recipe and tried to recreate it but over the years I have used pretty much every source of protein and every blend of Asian flavors to get it just right.

Twice Cooked Vegan Gobi Manchurian

As you guys know, my love for all forms of Asian cuisine knows no bounds. None. Okay well, I can veganize pretty much anything so I guess–technically–that is a boundary, but the point is that I just love the flavor profiles and I’m always happy to find something new.

Different.

Exciting.

Imagine my surprise when it was my partner’s turn to choose a meal and he chose Gobi Manchurian. I was skeptical at first, not because of the flavors, but because I cringe a little when it comes to anything that is deep fried. I’m not quite at my goal weight yet and I’ve been more relaxed about indulging in the things I love, but all that extra oil is where I draw the line.

Draw. The. Line.

But I’m a trooper. And an experimenter. So I decided to veganize it and healthy it up, and it was a challenge. Though, not as big a challenge as I anticipated, so let’s get to it, shall we?

This recipe had a few moving parts to it, but honestly it was pretty simple. Mostly.

Vegan Takeout At Home ~ General Tso’s Soy Strips

I don’t know where you guys are in the world or what you’re options are for takeout but here in Romania, the answer is NONE. As in no options whatsoever and that goes double if you’re vegan. There are a couple of options at a nearby sushi joint and this restaurant that is both Italian and Asian, both of which are just plain mediocre.

Why am I telling you all of this? Not just for sympathy, that’s for sure.

Just kiddin’, you can sympathize if you want but you don’t need to since we just ate some pretty kick ass General Tso’s vegan chicken…or soy strips. Call it what you want but this was a delicious way to enjoy an old childhood favorite without the suffering.

Or the strangers cooking our food right now.

I’m not gonna lie to you here, the ingredients list on this dish is pretty damn extensive, but that doesn’t make it difficult to make. Lots of Asian dishes require a variety of salty-sweet-bitter-tangy-spicy combinations that contribute to the deliciousness that is Asian cuisine.

For this vegan General Tso’s recipe, I’m just gonna paste the ingredients list straight from Cronometer because I already had to enter there and that was traumatic enough. Okay, it wasn’t all that bad but I’m feeling lazy and I need to get back to writing so bear with me. Please.

The first thing you need to do is “marinate” the soy curls once you’ve rehydrated them, which means you should make the sauce first. That means adding half the garlic & ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sambal, mirin and starch into a bowl. Whisk it and add the soy curls to it. Set aside.

Rinse, dry & chop whatever vegetables you want for this vegan Asian recipe. I went with basic veggies like carrots, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and a few florets of unused broccoli but you can add zucchini or squash or whatever veggies your little vegan heart desires.

I went oil free for this recipe but you can use it if you like and if you do, add the oil, ginger and garlic first. Otherwise add everything but the garlic into the skillet and cook until the veggies start to brown. Pick the marinated soy strips from the sauce and toss into the pan. Cook until crispy around the edges, but you can always pop them into the air fryer instead.

Pour the rest of the sauce over the veggies until its nice and thick. Serve over a bed of rice, and no tipping required!

I decided not to put the vegan strips in the air fryer this time because I was curious to see how the marinade worked and let me tell ya, it was incredible! Straight through to the center you could taste the grated ginger & garlic, the soy sauce and even the mirin. This was the first time I’ve had any version of General Tso’s in a good long while and, not to pat myself on the back, but I did a damn good job.

“Two thumbs up!” ~ The Husband

If you want this dish more saucy, just add more water with the soy sauce and if you want it thicker, increase the water-cornstarch ratio. And feel free to substitute whatever you want instead of soy strips. Chickpeas or mushrooms will work well, or any other vegan option you prefer.

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!

Ginger Mushroom Stir Fry

First let’s start with some good news: my book is out! Yay! It took a long time, much longer than it should but that was then and now it’s done and I’m super duper excited…can you tell?

But that means things have been busy. Crazy busy in fact but that’s when it’s most important to eat healthy and right. Right? At least for me it is. My weight loss goal is in sight, I feel good and I need a lot of energy to give this round of book promo the old college try.

So for this recipe I relied heavily on my spice rack. Aside from curries and stews, stir-fries are on my list of easy go-to meals when you’ve got a fridge full of vegetables and no game plan. Even if you do have a game plan but you change your mind, grab a few key ingredients and you’re good to go.

Since I love ginger and we had about a kilo of cap mushrooms, ginger mushroom stir fry seemed like the perfect quick and easy vegan meal.

The ingredients don’t matter a lot when it comes to a good stir fry so just follow these tips:

Cut the vegetables in a uniform-ish size. This helps with cooking and eating later.

Cook the vegetables that take the longest first, adding them by cook time if you use a wok

Prep your starter herbs & spices: ginger, garlic & onions

This dish consisted of leeks, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, cauliflower & ginger. You can add tofu or beans or whatever else you want but with the rice it was plenty satisfying and the sauce really brought it all together.

A good stir fry sauce doesn’t have to come from a jar, all you need is tomato paste, soy sauce, corn starch and your favorite herbs and spices. I like to add spicy Korean chili flakes, cumin or cardamom, garam masala, Hoisin, Sambal or sriracha just to name a few. The point is to experiment and see what you like. Add some fresh orange zest and juice to give your vegan stir fry an General Tso’s flavor!

And there you have it, another thirty minute vegan meal you can enjoy any night of the week. Or, if you’re feeling very creative, every night of the week!

Spicy Asian Tofu & Broccoli (AKA Vegan beef & broccoli)

When I’m in a bind or a rut, Asian is my go-to cuisine. Udon, Soba or Ramen noodles? Yes please. A little bit of Thai Curry? Fo sho! Pho? Gimme some more!

But sometimes you want something simple. Something easy. And sometimes you find the perfect head of broccoli and you know exactly what you want to make with it. Enter a dish I haven’t eaten or thought about since the funky Asian joint in the small town I grew up in America. Beef & Broccoli.

This is by no means my favorite dish in the vast world of Asian cuisine but it is something I’ve always loved because, broccoli. I’ve always been a fan and this is one of the few dishes where they give you loads of it. Not just a few florets inside a stir-fry, I’m talking enough broccoli to make you worry about noises for the rest of the night.

The thing I love about this dish is that it isn’t just easy, it’s pretty quick to make as well.

What you’ll need: TVP (or textured soya protein), Broccoli (as much of it as you can stand), Garlic, Ginger, Scallions, Rice, Soy sauce & Korean chili flakes.

Feel free to add onion or bell peppers or any other vegetables you want, I was just really in the mood for something simple and delicious.

Don’t be afraid to use the stalk of the broccoli either. You might have to peel some of the tough outer skin but it’s totally edible and pretty delicious. In fact, I’m thinking of testing out some vegan broccoli chips sometime in the near future so stay tuned!

The key to any good vegan beef & broccoli is the sauce. You’ll need soy sauce, corn starch (or whichever starch you’re most comfortable using), rice wine vinegar, sesame oil or Chinese black vinegar. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to test out new styles….that’s how good things happen on a plate!

You can add rice or noodles to this dish for a different flavor or texture, and pair it with something cold like an icy beer or a fun cocktail. Either way, enjoy your vegan beef & broccoli with a smile & a beverage.

What’s your favorite takeout dish to recreate at home?

Bok Choy Kimchi ~ Vegan Style

So, it turns out that if you can’t find Napa cabbage to make vegan kimchi, you don’t have to give up altogether on kimchi. I know, I know, it seems like common knowledge, right? Yeah well, I’ve been eating kimchi for years but I’ve only been making since 2019 so…

It turns out that you do pretty much everything you do with traditional kimchi, except with bok choy you have to figure out what to do with those beautiful green leaves. The first time I did this, I added the green leaves to the white stems in the salt-water blend and it turned out all right, but I thought the leaves were a bit too soft. The second time around, I added the leaves to the other vegetables and they stayed crunchy longer.

The most time consuming part of homemade vegan kimchi is…rinsing and chopping up all the veggies. ALL the veggies!

A good rule of thumb for kimchi vegetables is to keep it crispy. Think carrots, celery, radishes (red or daikon or kohlrabi will do), cucumbers, other types of cabbage and even…peppers. Be sure to rinse them well or else you’ll end up with dirt in your kimchi.

See all that dirt clinging to your veggies? That’s a good thing…just not when it’s time to get your grub on. A quick rinse or a scrub if necessary, then dry them off and you’re good to go.

I just love the bright colors so I decided to share another photo with you…

When you’ve given your cabbage (at least) 30 minutes of being tossed on and off with the salt water and chopped your other veggies, it’s time to create the sauce. You can use the traditional kimchi recipe from above for the details. And then…it’s time to get messy!

Okay I lied, I didn’t get messy because I have a strong sense of self-preservation and I use both Korean chili fakes and chili paste, which means my vegan kimchi is spicy-spicy. Kimchi needs a VERY good toss with your hands so that the sauce coats all the veggies. Use gloves so you’re not stuck with that spice on your hands for a couple days. At least.

Toss kimchi like this

And if you’re in the mood for kimchi and you only have a few veggies on hand, consider super easy kimchi pickles! Skip the salt & water stage and move right to the sauce.

vegan kimchi pickles

Eat these pickles quickly though because they don’t have a long shelf life. We made it to the 4th day before they were a little too soft to eat and after that they became very watery. Maybe there’s a way to get past that but I haven’t found it yet.

Homemade Vegan Sushi

One of the few restaurants in Ploiesti with vegan options is a sushi restaurant and we love it. I mean, I love it a lot, which is weird because I was never a big sushi fan in my meat-eating days…no matter how hard I tried. But now? Now it’s my jam.

My absolute frickin’ jam.

So of course we were visiting one of those giant stores that sell everything from pots & pans to school supplies and shoes. You know what I mean and some days this place looks so much like the town I grew up in that it reminds me just how alike we all are really are. Anyway, we came across sushi ginger, nor sheets, wasabi and sushi rice–in one place, no less!–and I turned my husband and said, “You should totally make sushi.” He shrugged and said, “Okay.”

So…homemade vegan sushi.

The most difficult part of this recipe is spreading the rice and cutting the roll, at least according to the Hubs, so the person in your house who’s best at delicate work should do those tasks.

The rolls were filled with bell peppers, smoked tofu, daikon radish, scallions, mushrooms, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and tomatoes. There were three different types of rolls that we split and they were pretty darn good. Mostly. And that’s because I have a love-hate relationship with nori. Mostly I hate it, but the sushi place we go to must have different sheets because they are beyond tolerable, they’re almost easy to ignore because the taste is so mild. These were not mild.

All you need is small dishes for soy sauce and you can pop the wasabi and ginger right in the center.

And if you’re feeling thirsty from all that wasabi, wash it down with an ice cold Japanese beer like Asahi, to keep with the theme of course.

Or just grab your favorite cold drink and enjoy!

 

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!