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!

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

 

Steamed Veggies in Oyster Sauce

Believe it or not: This dish is vegan! Who would have thought that you could get vegetarian (actually vegan) Oyster sauce?! When I saw it I immediately had to buy a bottle because I’m a sucker for Asian veggie dishes in dark, rich sauces. It is based on Oyster mushrooms, which I also used in their natural form for this dish. Apart from that, I used Kai Lan which is also called Chinese Kale or Broccoli and is one of my fav veggies in Southeast Asia. You could substitute it with Pak Choy or regular spinach or broccoli.
Kai Lan in Oyster Sauce
This recipe is what I call a proper meal: The brown rice keeps your tummy satisfied for hours, the veggies give you minerals and vitamins and the mushrooms and cashew nuts supply your body with plant based protein. And what’s best about it: you can basically steam any kind of veggies, choose different types of mushrooms (tofu/seitan would also work) and add any nuts you can find in your kitchen cupboard.
Kai Lan in Oyster Sauce

Tip: I used a rice cooker to prepare this meal and can only advise you to get one too! You can buy a cheap, small one for less than SGD 50 (I bought one in Vienna for ca. EUR 30). Just stop by your closest Asia shop or purchase one online. It’s an investment which pays off: you can cook rice to perfection, steam whatever you wanna steam (at the same time) and in some types you can even cook soups. I’d recommend to get one which has a warm-keeping mode so you can do other stuff while the cooking happens and get back to your rice cooker whenever you’re done with it.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Serves 2 pax

Kai Lan in Oyster Sauce

Stuff you need:

  • 250 grams of mushrooms (Oyster, Shiitake, Portobello..)
  • 400 grams of Kai Lan (or whatever leafy greens you wanna use)
  • A handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 cup of brown rice

    (For the sauce)

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A bit of fresh ginger
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3 tbs oyster sauce
  • 3 tbs soy sauce

Get started:

Put the brown rice into a rice cooker with 2 cups of water and press start. Alternatively, cook the brown rice in water as you usually prepare rice. In the meantime, wash the veggies and cut them. Add them into your little steam basket or cook them for a few minutes. Remove them from the heat (both steamed or cooked) after only a few minutes because they could run risk to become too soft otherwise! They should still be a bit undone as we will reheat them slightly later. Strain and chill them (wash them slightly with cold water or add some ice cubes to stop the cooking process. This will prevent the veggies from becoming to soft and their wonderful colour will remain.)

The rice should be done by now. Heat up a deep pan and add the nuts. Slightly roast them for a few seconds. Remove them from the pan. Then it’s time to prepare the sauce: Finely chop the garlic and ginger. Pour the oil into the pan and add in the garlic-ginger-mix. Fry for a few seconds, then add in all of the other ingredients until dissolved. You may wanna add a bit of water. Have a try and adjust the sauce to your taste – it should be a bit on the saltier side as the veggies have not seen any seasoning till now. Once the sauce is ready, add in the veggies just for so long that they are warm again. Ready to serve. Noms!

Kai Lan in Oyster Sauce

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