In celebration of the upcoming Vesak Day, we’ve whipped up a few vegetarian dishes that we think will satisfy the most carnivorous omnivore (e.g. yours truly)! Don’t worry about the dishes being cold salads as we know that most Asians do like their foods hot, and these dishes are perfect to share with friends and family of all religions.
In Singapore, we have something called “tau kwa pau” and it essentially is a stuffed beancurd. Similarly, the Japanese stuff beancurd skin with rice to make inari sushi. This is a fusion of both as the original recipe for tau kwa pau contains eggs and fried fish cake or minced meat, plus it is eaten more as a snack or appetiser rather than a main. As a party dish, we think this would impress! Recipe below serves 6 persons.
8 pieces of beancurd, fried and halved
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cucumber, cut into strips
1/2 cup brown rice
6 cloves garlic
2 slices ginger
3 star anise
1 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp cloves
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp Chinese wine
1 tsp salted soy bean
- Remove the inner part the beancurd so that only the ‘shells’ remain. Mash the tofu up as this will be part of your filling.
- Cook the brown rice as per instructions in a rice cooker.
- Prepare the sauce by heating up some oil in a pot and sauté the garlic, ginger, shallots, star anise, cinnamon, clove and salted soy bean until fragrant.
- Add in the stock, soy sauces, sugar and Chinese wine, simmer for 1 hour. Strain and set aside.
- Lightly blanch the bean sprouts, drain and dry on paper towels.
- Stir fry the brown rice with the mashed tofu and add in about 1 tbsp of the sauce.
- Stuff the beancurd shells halfway with the rice and tofu mix. Fill the other half with the beansprouts and cucumber.
- Garnish with the crushed peanuts and coriander.
- When ready to serve, drizzle the sauce on top.
Mushroom Buckwheat Noodles
Buckwheat noodles (a.k.a. soba) are high in protein, soluble fibre and gluten free – making it a very healthy dish for all. The mushrooms add some heartiness to the dish, ensuring that you do not miss the texture of meat. The recipe below serves 4 persons.
4 packets of soba
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
200g enoki mushrooms
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 carrot, sliced
1 packet soft tofu, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: garlic and spring onions
- Soak the dried mushrooms until they’re rehydrated. Cut off the stems and slice the caps.
- Boil the mushroom stems in the vegetable stock for about 10 minutes. Remove the stems and simmer with the sliced mushrooms, carrots and enoki mushrooms for another 10 minutes.
- Add in the tofu cubes and let it heat up gently for a minute. Boil the soba as per instructions separately.
- Place the soba into individual bowls and pour the broth over with equal portions of mushrooms and tofu. Serve immediately.
If you’re keen to have a bit of garlic flavour in the soup, add in a clove together with the mushroom stems. Boil and remove together with the stems.
Portobello Veggie Burgers
Portobello mushrooms are often hailed as the ‘meat’ of vegetarians due to its texture and flavour. However, it is often used as a filling or stuffed with cheese. This time round, we’re going to use the mushroom caps as the ‘buns’ so that it is even healthier as there isn’t any simple carbs in this dish. If you can’t find the really large cap Portobellos, fret not. You can just use the smaller ones and make sliders! Recipe below serves 4 persons.
8 large Portobellow mushrooms
2 avocados, sliced (or mashed if you’re making sliders)
1 tomato, sliced (use cherry tomatoes if you are making sliders)
handful of baby spinach or arugula
1/2 carrot, grated
1 cup corn
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh green peas
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp coconut oil
salt and pepper
- Heat your grilling pan. Clean the gills of the mushrooms carefully. Pat dry with a paper towel. Brush the caps with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms on the grill and cook both sides evenly for a few minutes until cooked but not charred. Set aside to cool.
- Start making the vegetable patties by boiling the potatoes until they’re soft. Peel the skins and mash it.
- In a pan, heat up some oil and fry the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add in the corn and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the corn, onion, garlic and grated carrot into the mashed potatoes. Mix thoroughly and add in salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine the cornstarch and coconut oil into the vegetable mixture. Shape the mixture into patties that are about 1cm thick. If the mixture is too crumbly, add in a bit more cornstarch first and then drip in a bit more coconut oil. The consistency should not be dough-like. If it becomes like dough, you’ve added too much cornstarch and will need to add in more mashed potatoes.
- Heat up some oil in a pan and pan fry the patties until they’re golden brown on both sides.
- Start building your burger with 1 mushroom as the base, topped with the veggie patty, followed by 1 or 2 tomato slices, avocado slices and then the spinach.
If you want a bit more sauce to the burger, you can add some vegetarian mayonnaise or salad cream.
We hope that you’ll try out some of these recipes and tell us how they turned out! Remember that vegetarian doesn’t mean boring nor does it necessarily mean super healthy (fried vegetables and fritters, anyone?).
We would also like to wish all of our Buddhist friends a Happy Vesak Day!
Photo credits: Pixabay and Shutterstock