Cold Soba Salad with Wasabi Dressing

I have to share a secret with you: I’m a lazy cook. If a dish involves more than one pot and I have to invest more than 20 minutes making it, it won’t become one of my everyday recipes. This is why I love this dish: it’s super healthy, quick and easy. And: it makes a FABULOUS office lunch as well. Precook it or enjoy your leftovers on your desk the next day.BlueGingerClub_SobaSalad-1

This specific recipe is my interpretation of cold soba noodles with dipping sauce which I had in Japan. I tried to create  a well-balanced meal out of it consisting of complex carbs, veggies and two sources of vegan protein. The dressing is straightforward, but the wasabi gives it a little kick – it’s addictive!

BlueGingerClub_SobaSalad-52 servings
15 minutes

Stuff you need:

  • 2 bundles of dried soba noodles (they are usually packed in portions, see pictures)
  • 200 gram Pak Choy (or any other greens of your choice, spinach will do)
  • 1 package of tofu (1 piece)
  • 2 handfuls of fresh shiitake mushrooms (dried ones are ok, button mushroom or portobello will also do the job)
  • Japanese soy sauce
  • 4 tbs Mirin (= Japanese sweet sake, if you don’t have that substitute with 3 tbs dry sherry and 1 tbs honey or agave syrup)
  • 1 tbs Japanese rice vinegar (cider vinegar will also do)
  • Wasabi powder or paste
  • 1 tbs black sesame
  • Salt, brown sugar, vegetable oil, sesame oil

Get started

BlueGingerClub_SobaSalad-3First of all, do the mise-en-place: you want to wash your veggies, remove the stem of the Pak Choy and mushrooms and cut the latter into quarters. Slice the tofu in small cubes.

After that, fill a big pot with water and bring it to boil. Add the soba noodles and the Pak choy and cook for around 4 minutes. Strain them, then “wash” the mixture with cold water. You even might want to add a few ice cubes to cool it down; this will keep the veggies green and prevent the noodles from becoming overdone.BlueGingerClub_SobaSalad-4

Briefly clean your pot to reuse it or get a pan on the heating plate. Add 3 tbs of oil, then add the tofu and the mushrooms. Fry on high heat for 2-3 minutes, then add 2 tbs of soy sauce and a dash of brown sugar. After another 5 minutes, remove from heat and discard the liquid. Add a dash of salt and a few drops of sesame oil.

In a bowl, mix 5 tbs soy sauce, the Mirin, vinegar and a little bit of wasabi paste (whatever you can handle!). Mix until it’s homogeneous, then try and fine tune it according to your taste. After that, marinade the noodle-veggie combi with the dressing, add the tofu and mushrooms on top and finish your dish off with a pinch of sesame seeds. You could add some finely chopped scallion or pickles for decoration. Enjoy!

Traveling to Singapore: The Ultimate Insider Guide

You’re planning a trip to Singapore? Brilliant!

So now you want to know how to make the most out of your stay here. There is quite a bit to do, so it can be hard to plan your trip. So I’ve compiled a list of daytime and nighttime activities which includes my favourite restaurants, the most breathtaking places and hippest areas. These are insider tips I have selected and shared with many of my friends who came to visit me – handpicked and tourist proof. Just mix and match and have a great time exploring Singapore.

Any questions? Leave me a comment below!


During the Day

The Shopping Spree (Orchard Road + Soba place)

Wanna do the shopping thing? Then you should go to ION shopping center. When there, visit Isetan Japanese Super Market – they have crazy food stuff there. TANGS and Takashimaya are high-end malls which are also worth a visit. Try a Singaporean Ice Cream sandwich from one of the vendors on the street!

Where to eat: Shimbashi Soba. One of my absolute favourite food places on this planet! They produce their own Japanese buckwheat noodles and have a wonderful menu including soups, cold soba with tempura as well as many vegetarian and I believe vegan dishes. (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there: Orchard MRT
Insider Tip: Orchard area is SUPER crowded on Sundays, try to evade that

The Chinese Experience (Chinatown + Hawker Center)

Visiting China Town is a must! Check out the Buddha tooth temple as well as the Indian Temple in Southbridge Road. Then, stroll through chinatown to buy souvenirs and weird snacks and fruits. Go to a fortune teller if you feel adventurous. Stroll through Duxton Hill nearby for a coffee at The Plain.

Where to eat: Maxwell Hawker Center. This place offers many dishes you just HAVE to try in Singapore! Try some chicken rice at Tian Tian, have a fresh dragonfruit juice and order my secret favourite, raw sliced fish (like a sashimi salad, available at the porridge stall).(Approx. 8 SDG for meal + drink) 
How to get there: 
China town, Outram or Tanjong Pagar MRT
Insider Tip:
If you’re feeling adventurous, try chicken feet, deep fried frog or grilled stingray in Smith Street (also known as Food Street)

BlueGingerClub_Singapore-5BlueGingerClub_Singapore-9
Relaxed & Hip (Tiong Bahru + Plain Vanilla)

Tiong Bahru is one of the areas I love spending a lazy afternoon in! It’s actually one of the oldest areas in Singapore but has a handful of very nice and hip restaurants and shops. Must: go to Books Actually. They offer a great selection of books and a room filled with vintage stuff – and they have a fluffy cat. What else do you need in life. Read my full blog post about Tiong Bahru.

Where to eat: Plain Vanilla Bakery. If you like cupcakey foodporn, this is your mekka. Plain Vanilla offers a wonderful range of cupcakes, tartes and cakes. Try the Rosemary Buttercake! And if you fancy a “proper meal” before that, try one of the Chinese restaurants, PS Café or Forty Hands! (Vanilla Bakery: Approx. 10 SDG for cake + coffee) 
How to get there: 
Tiong Bahru MRT
Insider Tip:
Don’t rush through Tiong Bahru. Take your time and relax the area, wander its street and have a nice, long coffee break in one of the cafés. Besides, Chinatown is close by – you can combine these areas.

IMG_4208Artsy afternoon(SAM + Food For Thought)

Feed your soul with art! The Singapore Art Museum offers modern, mostly photography exhibitions. Not the most inspiring museum in the world but definitely worth a visit for the art-loving tourist – especially because of the old colonial style building it is located in!

Where to eat: Artichoke Cafe. Fancy a nice middle eastern place? HUMMUS <3? Complete your visit at the museum with a great lunch at Artichoke. Many veggie options available. (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there:
 Bugis MRT
Insider Tip: 
The SAM offers free tours which are usually pretty interesting. Check out their website for dates and times.

Singapore Explained (National Museum & FoodForThought)

Do you know what banana notes are? What peranakan is? Or how Singapore became independent? Then invest 2 hours of your stay to visit the National Museum’s current exhibition Singapura: 700 years. Even if you’re not the museum-kinda-girl or -guy, you will understand why Singapore is the way it is SO much better! Also, you can combine your trip with Fort Canning, a nice park which is directly next to the National Museum.

Where to eat: Have brunch at Food For Thought first. Their breakfast is heavenly and also available in “vegetarian”. What I also like about the place is that it is socially responsible and they run a great campaign for raising money for clean drinking water for people in need.  (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there:
Doby Ghaut MRT
Insider Tip:
The National Museum also offers free tours in a few languages

 Enjoying Nature (Botanic Gardens  + Pic Nic)

Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is an absolute must. I know that visiting a garden does not sound super exiting, but you will not be disappointed, promise! The Botanic Gardens are a beautiful fusion of English gardening style and lush, tropical flora (and fauna: you can see all kinds of animals including dinosaur style monitor lizards which are pretty damn cool!)

Where to eat:
This place is MADE for having a picnic there. So, grab some takeaway food or sandwiches on the way, steal a towel from your hotel room, open a bottle of wine, buy some strange fruit you don’t know and enjoy a low-key outdoor meal. 
How to get there:
There are several busses going there – I really suggest to grab a cab though.
Insider Tip:
If you like flower stuff, check out the Orchid exhibition. Apart from that, there are free classic concerts at the Botanic Gardens from time to time. Make sure to check out their website.

BlueGingerClub_Singapore-1

In the Evening


THE WALK (Lau Pa Sat + Marina Bay + Gardens By the Bay)

Oh wow, I’ve done that with EVERY single person who came to visit me. It’s a classic. If you have one evening in Singapore only, that is the thing to do. You start at Lau Pa Sat which is an old, colonial style Hawker Center which offers a myriad of different foods – make sure to try some of the Saté meat skewers which are absolutely fabulous there! Many vegetarian options are offered for our green friends (Indian food stalls or Yong Tao Foo). After dinner and nightfall, you just walk a few minutes to arrive at Marina Bay. It is truly breathtaking. Stroll along the bay walk whilst enjoying the modern architecture, to reach Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Make sure to enter the Lobby and have a look around ( and no, you cannot access the pool deck). Continue your walk to the Gardens By The Bay and be fascinated by the supertrees.

Where to eat: Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center, also known as Telok Ayer Market
How to get there:
Raffles Place MRT
Insider Tip:
You could have a drink at the Marina Bay Sands rooftop bar. However, if you feel like ending the day with a drink, I’d suggest 1-Altitude for that purpose, because you want to have a nice view ON Marina Bay Sands.

BlueGingerClub_Singapore-4BlueGingerClub_Singapore-3BlueGingerClub_Singapore-6BlueGingerClub_Singapore-8
A relaxed evening out (Pho Love + Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel)

After a long day of Sightseeing, you just might want to grab a quick dinner and treat yourself with a nice drink. Enjoy a chill evening at the Long Bar located in the elegant Raffles Hotel. The hotel is a BEAUTIFUL colonial building which will transport you back in time. Order a Singapore Sling (which was invented here), listen to the live band and nibble on fresh peanuts (you an throw the peanut shells on the ground!).

Where to eat:  
Nam Nam Noodle Bar. This Vietnamese “fast food” restaurant situated at City Hall MRT underpass offers really nice Vietnamese street food at reasonable cost. Try a Pho soup, the Ban Mie Baguette or a Vietnamese Coffee if you’ve never had that before! (Approx. 15 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there:
 City Hall MRT
Insider Tip:
The Bar and Hotel also have a food menu. If you wanna go fancy, you can check out their selection here.

Let’s go for a beer! (Oriental Food + Haji Lane)

After your dinner (Nabins!), you should definitely check out Haji Lane for one beer (or many). There are several cool cafés and bars in the area, but my all time favourite is Blu Jaz Café. They often have live bands playing, you can sit outside smoking a Shisha and the food is also quite nice if you are still looking for a meal. If you have time, you should discover the area around Haji Lane a bit (Sultan Mosque)! Read my full blog post about Haji Lane.

Where to eat: 
Nabins. Arabian restaurant with a authentic interior: have a cozy seat on exotic cushions while you are dining on the floor. Shisha is offered. I strongly recommend the appetiser platter and the broad selection of exotic iced teas and drinks! (Approx. 25 SDG for meal + drink)
How to get there:
 Bugis MRT
Insider Tip:
Haji Lane is also nice during the day – you can do some serious shopping beyond mainstream fashion here! Make sure to stop by OM Café for a nice cup of coffee.

Hummus at Haji Lane IMG_0979
Quick Bits

Hope you enjoy your stay 🙂

What Unicorns Would Eat: Pink Beetroot Hummus

I think we really do not need to discuss that hummus is the best thing in the world. Wait – is it? Or would PINK hummus be even better? Make your dreams come true. Be awesome. Eat what unicorns would eat.BlueGingerClub_BeetrootHummus-5BlueGingerClub_BeetrootHummus-1 For 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Stuff you need:

  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 can or package of ready to eat beetroot
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

Get Started: 

Strain the chickpeas and wash them. Put them into a mixing bowl. Then, strain the cooked beetroot as well and add it to your bowl. Pour in the oil, then add a dash salt and pepper and the juice of one lemon. Use a blender to mix the ingredients until the hummus has become creamy. Done! Enjoy. BlueGingerClub_BeetrootHummus-3BlueGingerClub_BeetrootHummus-12

The perfect appetiser: Vietnamese Fresh Summer Rolls

Gỏi cuốn – that’s how the Vietnamese call this fresh, light snack. In a nutshell: It’s “a salad packed into an edible container”. Unlike the fried version, these so called “summer rolls” are only wrapped in soaked rice paper, usually filled with rice noodles, thai basil, shrimp, soy bean sprouts and lettuce.

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (1 of 13)

I love them  as an appetiser when I eat in a Vietnamese restaurant, but they most often contain some form of animal products. So, I experimented a bit and created this vegan option, which is generally a bit of a variation of the original recipe. I went crazy, and so should you – playing with the ingredients is one of the fun parts of making summer rolls. Also when it comes to the dipping sauces – I prefer the classic hoisin sauce which is some form of thick, sweet brown sauce which goes extremely well with the rolls. But anything goes: Sriracha sauce or sweet chili sauce are also not too bad!

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (2 of 13)

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (6 of 13)The only downside: Rolling those little beauties needs a bit of practice and is quite a time consuming activity. I recommend turning this burden into a pleasure by making the rolling session part of the dinner: arrange all ingredients on the table and then go DIY. I did this quite often with my friends in Vienna and we even made a ton of these for a NYE while drinking champagne and waiting for the New Year to arrive. Just perfect.

So, tackle the roll – you will be rewarded with the perfect light meal!

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (12 of 13)
Stuff you need:

  • 1 pkg. rice papers (I prefer the big ones as they are easier to roll)
  • 1 pkg. rice noodles (not glass noodles!)
  • 1 big handful of herbs (thai basil, thai mint, coriander, wasabi sprouts,.. whatever tickles your fancy)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 small lettuce
  • 200 grammes shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 pkg. soy bean sprouts
  • Tofu (puff, smoked, fried, – whatever you like. Just nothing too soft like silk/egg tofu)
  • 2-3 limes
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • Hoisin sauce for seasoning
  • Dipping sauces (hoisin, sweet chili,…)

Get Started:

Ok, there will be quite a bit of preparation going on. First, cook the noodles 3 minutes), strain and rinse with cold water. After this, wash all of the veggies and cut the cucumber and tofu (in finger shaped pieces) and chop the salad. Cut the mushrooms in half. Heat up a pan, pour some oil in and fry the mushrooms on high heat. Add the 2 tbs of soy sauce and 1 tbs sugar so they are slightly caramelised, stir and turn off the heat.

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (3 of 13)So now you’re done with your mise-en-place.Pour a few tablespoons of hoisin sauce in a small bowl and get started. Grab a big pot filled with cold water in which you can soak your rice paper sheets. Secret trick: I found out that the easiest way to roll is to use two layers of rice paper. Soak them for a few minutes, slightly drip them off and put them on a plate. If you wanna go fancy you can add a few pieces of the herbs in between the layers – looks pretty amazing afterwards. Put some hoisin sauce, some bean sprouts, lettuce, a piece of cucumber and tofu as well as some noodles in the center. Sprinkle a few drops of lime juice on top, then add the herbs if you have not done that already. Now comes the tricky part: turn the edges on the the short sides, then, firmly grab a “long side” and try to roll it until, well, it looks like a roll. Believe me, it’s a bit hard in the beginning and your first rolls will be ugly bastards but you’ll get better, I promise!

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (8 of 13)

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (10 of 13)

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (11 of 13)Once you’ve finished all of your summer rolls, you can arrange them nicely with the sauce in the center. Enjoy!

BlueGingerClub_SummerRolls (13 of 13)

Antipasti time: Super Easy Aubergine Salad

The best things in life are simple. The very best ones are simple AND easy. So this vegan, Italian aubergine antipasto is for anyone who wants to indulge in some mediterranean delightfulness without spending hours of preparation. It’s refreshingly sourish, with a mild taste of olive oil and flavoured with a bunch of herbs and spices. The flavours of summer.

And the best thing: you can mix and match these aubergines with so many things! Put them on top of a bunch of rocket salad accompanied with diced cherry tomatoes and a few slices of ciabatta on the side for a nice Italian summer lunch. Or try them as a part of antipasti/mezze with other small dishes. It would even be a nice side snack for a picnic or BBQ. Or on top of a tabouleh or a simple pasta. You could even put it into a sandwich or burger. I could go on for longer, but I guess you get it: You can add it to almost ANYTHING (as long as it’s slightly mediterranean).

For 4 small antipasti servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Aubergine Antipasti

Stuff you need: 

  • 3 medium sized aubergines
  • 2 limes
  • A handful of fresh, sweet basil (regular, Italian Basil)
  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil (anything which is fit for cooking)
  • Salt, black pepper, brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut in half

Get Started: 

First of all, slice the aubergines. The slices should neither be too thin (will get soggy). Once that’s done, heat a pan and add the vegetable and 3 tbs olive oil. The reason to mix these two is that olive oil alone is actually not recommended to be used for high temperature cooking. So, once your pan is hot, add in the peeled garlic cloves, roast for a minute and then add in as many slices of aubergine as there is space – not all at once! Each slice’s surface should get the opportunity to get done and slightly brown. Turn each piece after 2-3 minutes, then cook the other side. Lightly salt each slice and remove the garlic cloves before they turn brown. Continue this process until all slices are done and soft, add more oil if needed.

Then, squeeze the lime and add a tiny bit of salt and black pepper as well as a dash of brown sugar to it. Finely chop the sweet basil and mix it in. Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the dressing over the aubergine pieces and make sure that every piece is covered. Let stand for 5 minutes and arrange on a plate. Enjoy!

Aubergine Antipasti Aubergine Antipasti

 

Veggie Saté Skewers with Peanut Dip

Saté (or Satay) skewers can be found in almost any corner in Southeast Asia. They are widely popular and come in many variations – but most of them consist of meat. So how about a nice, clean, vegan version? Of course with a quick, cheat peanut sauce on the side to dip the veggies in. You can prepare the sticks in your oven at home or grill them at a BBQ. Serve them either as a snack to nibble on or with some bread and a salad on the side as a main dish.

15 sticks
Preparation time: 45 minutes

IMG_4221

Veggie Saté with Peanut Sauce

Stuff you need:

  • 15 bamboo / wooden sticks
  • 200g shiitake or mini portobello mushrooms
  • 150g mini corncobs
  • 150g okra
  • 200g eggplant
  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs palm/brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs curry powder
  • 1 lime
  • 5 tbs finely crushed peanuts
  • 4 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs honey/agave syrup
  • Dried chili

Get Started: 

Heat up your oven on 180° celsius. Wash the veggies and soak the bamboo sticks in water – this will prevent them from burning later.

Then, heat a pot of water, cut the okra and corn in half and cook them for approx. 5 minutes. (Don’t cook until done! They will be grilled later and you don’t want them to become soggy). Chill them in cold water and place them in a bowl with ice cubes to prevent a loss of colour.

In a big bowl, dissolve salt, sugar and curry powder adding a few drops of hot water to melt the ingredients. Once it’s homogenous, you can add the oil and lime juice. Marinate the veggies in this dressing and make sure that they are all slightly covered with it. If not, add some more oil.

After that, cut the mushrooms and eggplant (depending on size) in quarters. Now, it’s time to mix and match and put your veggies on the sticks! Place them in the oven for ca 20-30 min until they have become slightly brown. Check on them regularly.

Let’s prepare the sauce in the meantime. In a deep pan, roast the peanut crumbles. (Watch this process attentively as these little bastards can turn from “pale” to “burnt” in seconds.). Then, lower the heat and add the soy sauce, sugar, a bit of chili and a dash of salt. Once everything’s dissolved, you can add the peanut butter and a few cls of water. Mix the sauce gently until it has become a creamy, thick sauce. Do this rather on lower heat because otherwise the peanut butter can turn into having a weird texture which makes it impossible to emulsify with the water.

Get the skewers out of the oven and serve them with the sauce! Enjoy!

Veggie Saté with Peanut SauceVeggie Saté with Peanut Sauce

Quick Cashew-Guacamole

A good guacamole is always appreciated. It should be creamy yet refreshing, slightly spicy and have the full, rich taste of ripe avocados. With pita bread. That’s just perfect, I always thought. But what about adding some crunchy bits? I experimented with adding roasted cashew nuts to the guaca and it turned out to be utterly AMAZING. No matter if you try this recipe or your regular one, make sure to try adding some nuts to it!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
For one bowl (for 4 people as a dip)

Creamy Cashew Guacamole

Stuff you need:

  • 3 super ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 handful of cashew nuts
  • Ground cumin
  • 1 green chili
  • Fresh cilantro
  •  1tbs olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

Get Started

Mildly roast the nuts in a pan without oil. Take care: they will turn from being pale to brown in seconds, so better watch them. After that, cut your avocados, spoon up the flesh and immediately drizzle it with lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Put it in a bowl and mash it with a fork or your hands to the texture you prefer. Then, finely chop the onion, chili and cilantro and add it, together with a dash of cumin, salt, pepper and the olive oil. Then, slighly crush the nuts. Stir two thirds in and place one third on top. Serve with pita or tortilla chips. Goes well with hummus or baba ganoush.

Guacamole