Vegetarian [kind of] meets BBQ

I guess you could say I was a little out of my element? The BBQ and I aren’t exactly the best of friends…

A few months ago the Recipe Redux theme was ‘Start Smoking in the New Year’ – (yeah, I’m getting in a little late) hence the BBQ idea popping up:

The New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

My first thought was my Vegetarian Chilli but then I thought I should try something new. I follow a few American nutrition and food blogs and quite often see a recipe call for ‘Liquid Smoke’, but I have never been able to find it anywhere in Oz. So the cheat’s way was out…then I wondered how I would go about doing it the proper way. But how to smoke food without a barbecue? This just opened up a can of worms..and a trip to the hardware store… and a house smelling like ribs. Got there in the end.

Smoked Tofu, Almonds & Green Beans.

Once upon a time I found a block of smoked tofu in a health food shop. It was delicious, and expensive, and I never bought it again. So here is an attempt to recreate it! And an impressive option for all you vegetarians and vegans going to summer barbecues, only to face a sad bowl of ice berg lettuce and bread rolls with tomato sauce. I feel ya. Take this and everyone will want to be your friend. I mean, it’s not going to pass as sticky ribs anytime soon, but who wants to have to eat with their fingers and get sauce all over their face anyway? 

IMG_1201

Get your smoke on.. 

1 x block of tofu, cut into slices

1 x cup wood chips (I used hickory)

1 x aluminium baking tray

a lot of foil

Soak the wood chips in water over night. Layer the bottom of the tray with the wood chips and a little bit of water, then sit an elevated tray inside the aluminium tray for the tofu slices to sit on. Wrap well in foil. Place in the oven and leave it in there for 3 hours.

SIX HOURS later and I took my tofu out of the oven.

To be perfectly honest, I was really disappointed that it wasn’t ‘smokier’. Seeing as how I had committed half my life to this recipe, the tofu was a bit of an anti-climax. Ahh well, you live and you learn. The end result was delish – read on for the saviour – the tahini dressing and green beans are a win for sure.

greenbeans

And the rest…

2 cups green beans

1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped

100g fresh rocket leaves

2 TBS tahini

1 TBS lemon juice

salt & pepper

Top & tail the beans and saute them in a bit of olive oil. Add them to a big bowl with roasted almonds, rocket and tofu.

Combine the tahini, lemon juice and s & p in a small bowl and then pour it on over. I added a little warm water to the dressing to thin it out a bit, but whatever goes.

(I will certainly not hold it against you for saving six hours and not trying this one at home).

The end x

I Heart Vietnam

You know the awkward ice breaker questions that you have on a first date? … ‘What’s your favourite food?’ always tends to come up.

I dread it. It just opens up a can of worms.

I’m hopeless when it comes to picking just one. So now I just go by cuisine, which makes it marginally easier. At the moment it’s Vietnamese. Not that I have ever been to Vietnam so my concept of the Vietnamese cuisine could be way off, but I trust that Swan Street, Richmond is doing something right so I’ll go with my gut instinct.

Eating out as a vegetarian or vegan can be a bit tricky when it comes to Vietnamese because of the fish sauce, so I tend to make it a lot at home. Also a restaurant down the road that I used to work at does a lot of Vietnamese stuff, and I still like to think I have a bit of influence around there so I am allowed to be that pain in the ass customer and make super annoying requests to my order which is handy 😀

I found a vegetarian fish sauce the other day when I was at Vincent’s Vegetarian in Footscray (last I checked they also have a little stall at the Prahran market). If you ever need a vegetarian substitute for ANYTHING, go here. Literally anything. Ribs, prawns, duck, beef jerky (see below), they got it. So the fish sauce doesn’t taste exactly like the real thing but it gets shit done. And that’s all I ever ask for ya know?

vegan jerky

From a nutrition standpoint -> awesome option for take away. Lower in fat that Thai because of the lack of coconut milk, and a lot less oil and sodium than Chinese. Lots of fresh veg and herbs for flavour, although if you’re eating out the dressings tend to be quite high in sugar and salt so keep that in mind. But if you’re cooking at home, use coriander, chilli and lime juice instead.

I think Vietnamese is best to make when you’re cooking for a group of people. Because who wants to spend an hour rolling rice paper rolls when you’re the only one eating them? My beautiful housemate made an amazing banquet the other day with rice paper rolls, Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes) and noodle bowls. Delish.

banquet

 

Today I did something new and made Dao Hu Sot Ca. Yeah I dunno either. But it’s crispy tofu with tomato sauce. To be honest I’m not sure if it came out right because I’ve never done it before. But it’s tasty so all goooood.

Recipe adapted from Hungry Huy.

 

photo

Crispy Tofu with Tomato Sauce

Serves one. Because I am destined to be alone forever.

 

1/2 block of firm tofu (about 150g) (and make sure it’s firm not silken!)

1 tbs of coconut oil

2 ripe tomatoes
1 green capsicum
1 red chilli
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp [vegetarian] fish sauce
Coriander for garnish

Heat oil in a pan until you can see little bubbles
Slice up the tofu into cubes and place in the pan, it should sizzle, if not the oil isn’t hot enough
Let the tofu brown on each side until crispy

Chop up tomatoes
Slice capsicum and chilli finely
Place into a sauce pan with water, sugar, salt, and fish sauce and bring to the boil
Add the tofu and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thicken
Serve with lots of coriander

Tofu Saturdays

It’s Saturday today, hooray!!

I am feeling the positive vibes this weekend, my Saturday has gotten off to a good start. We went to the 1000 Steps this morning for a bit of a workout. It’s always so beautiful down Ferntree Gully way! This post is inspired by a cafe that I recently discovered in Belgrave called Earthly Pleasures – where we had just done the steps and then had some amazing scrambled tofu!

Now, i know when most people hear scrambled tofu they probably fall asleep, but hear me out – I went through a huge scrambled tofu phase in my vegan days, and it’s so easy and versatile! Tofu is super high in protein with 1/2 cup containing around 10 grams – and it’s also an excellent source of calcium too! By itself it is bland and boring, so it really is what you make of it. The one I had at Earthly Pleasures was packed full of fresh herbs, but you can add anything you like..this is my favourite way to make it…

1 x block of firm tofu (make sure it’s firm and not silken!)

1 x tsp of olive oil

1/2 x diced onion

1 x red capsicum – diced

1 x field mushroom – diced

2 x stalks of kale, finely shredded

1 x TBS tamari

1 x TBS nutritional yeast

Get your pan hot and add the oil, grab the tofu with your hands and give it a big squeeze! You want it to crumble in the pan.

Cook it for a couple of minutes until it started to get brown, then add the onion and cook for another couple of minutes.

Then throw in the rest of your veggies, it depends on how crunchy you like your veggies but I only cook it for another couple of minutes more to heat them through.

Stir through tamari and nutritional yeast.

Serve with sliced avocado and toast! We stopped off at a little farmer’s market on the way home from the steps and got this amazing French sourdough – yum!

tofu scramble