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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Southern Au Lac Sausage


  • ½ kg soft bean curd
  • ¼ onion
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • Black pepper, salt, and seasoning


  1. Shred the bean curd as small as your finger.
  2. Boil water in a pot, then put the bean curd in for about 15 minutes. Next, strain the water.
  3. Mince the onion then saute in the oil, put the bean curd in. Mix well. Turn off the heat, then add black pepper, salt, and seasoning for taste. Let it cool.
  4. Take a small nylon bag, and fill it to half mark with the mixture. Roll the bag into a sausage shape, tie it securely, and steam for about 45 minutes if it is a small roll. If it is a big roll then steam for longer.


* The sausage can be eaten with pickles, mint, and lettuce. You can also dip it in soy sauce with some red chili.

* The longer you steam the sausage, the tougher and better tasting it will become.

Vegan Vietnamese Shaking 'Beef'

Courtesy of Spice Island Vegan

The original name of this dish is Thit Bo Luc Lac, a famous Vietnamese dish that literally is translated to English as 'Shaking Beef.' This dish is named this way because the marinated beef is shaken in a very hot wok or cast iron pan, searing and shaking them, until they are evenly cooked. Then, they are served warm on a bed of fresh watercress, tomatoes, cucumbers, and seared onions, with a clear sweet and sour sauce (like salad dressing).

Vietnamese Soy 'Beef' and Watercress

Serve 4-6


Note: See my blog regarding the dark mushroom soy sauce or light soy sauce or 'fish' sauce that I use in Vietnamese or Thai cooking. Do not use Japanese soy sauce because it won't taste the same.

  • 1 medium onion, slice thinly (1/4-inch thick)

Sweet and Sour Light Sauce(salad dressing):

  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Amino™
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 -2 Tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 bunch organic watercress, cleaned and dried
  • 2 Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, sliced diagonally
  • 1 medium fresh and ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup grilled or fresh pineapple

Preparing dried soy 'beef' (Thit Chay):

  1. Simmer dried soy beef in hot water for 20 minutes.

  2. Drain water and squeeze most of the water out.

  3. The soy 'beef' should be soft now. I use this brand since it is very thinly sliced and is soft after they are simmered in boiling water.

  4. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl.

  5. Apply marinade to soy 'beef', mix well, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

If using Soy Curls™ :

  1. Soak Soy Curls in warm water for 10 minutes.

  2. Drain water and squeeze most of the water out.

  3. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl.

  4. Apply marinade sauce to Soy Curls, mix well, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Preparing vegetables:

  1. Mix sweet and sour light sauce ingredients together and marinade the sliced red onions in this sauce. The fresh onion flavor really makes this dressing flavorful. Let it sit marinating while you are preparing the rest of the vegetables.

  2. Layer watercress on a serving dish, top with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and pineapple.

Searing onions:

  1. Heat a cast iron frying pan until it is very hot.
  2. Drain onions from salad dressing/sauce but reserve the sauce in a bowl.
  3. Pour or sprinkle the reserved dressing/sauce onto the prepared vegetables on the serving platter, evenly.
  4. Put 1 teaspoon vegetable oil onto the hot cast iron frying pan. Then, add the drained onions.

  5. Shake and turn onions until cooked (translucent) and a bit charred. Pour onions on top of the prepared vegetables.

Shaking Soy 'Beef' or Soy Curls:

    1. Heat a cast iron frying pan until very hot.
    2. Add 1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Then, add the marinated soy meat.
    3. Shake and turn soy meat until a bit charred. Place warm soy meat on top of seared onions and prepared vegetables.

Before serving, mix the soy meat, onions and vegetables together and serve this dish with brown rice or white steamed sticky rice.

Vietnamese Green Mango Salad

Courtesy of Spice Island Vegan

The essential ingredient for this salad is a fresh herb called Vietnamese Coriander, the Vietnamese name is rau răm. I went on a special trip to a Vietnamese market just to get it. It is not available in the usual natural food markets I frequently shop at. If this is not available in your area, you can use fresh lemon verbena. Whatever you use for a substitution, choose a fresh herb that has lemony flavor and smell. I took a good picture of it so you can see how it looks like if you are able to find a Vietnamese market near you (you know that language barrier can be a problem shopping in such a market). Probably, you can also ask your local Vietnamese restaurant if they know where to buy it.
The ingredients of the salad are as follows (from left hand corner, clockwise): green mango, firm cucumber (English cucumber), carrots, jicama, green apple, chopped herbs (Vietnamese coriander and fresh mint leaves).
As you can see that the green mango is light yellowish and not white. During my growing up years, I was able to pick green mango from my own tree in the yard before it turned light yellow (a bit too ripe). However, for the purpose for this salad, since the mango was still firm, it was good enough.

The ingredients were all cut in julienne manner or match sticks. This is a chore. I used a food processor but then found out that it was not a good idea since this tool tends to make the ingredients juicy. I will investigate of a good mandolin that can perform julienne cut fruit and vegetable the way I want it. A julienne peeler did not do a good job since it cut too small. Don't worry since all the effort to cut all the vegetable and fruit is well worth it. This salad is so refreshing, spicy, light, healthy, and very low fat.

Another unique ingredient is young coconut juice. It is the water/juice and not milk, ok? If you can find a young coconut and get the juice out of it, that's great (recently we have lots of young coconuts in nearby Asian and natural food markets). Otherwise, I recommend the one in a can without added sugar and no pulp. I am using it in the veganized salad dressing (originally, this salad has fish sauce in its dressing).

Vietnamese Green Mango Salad

Serve 4-6


  • 2 cups green mango, julienne cut (about 2 small green mango)
  • 1 cup English cucumber, julienne cut
  • 2 cups carrots, julienne cut
  • 2 cups jicama, julienne cut (1 small jicama)
  • 1 to 2 Granny Smith apple, julienne cut (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup Vietnamese Coriander, measure then chop
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, measure then chop
  • Cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallot, omit for lower fat
  • 3 tablespoons chopped unsalted peanuts, omit for lower fat
  • Sriracha hot sauce
  • Rice chips or crackers
Salad Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Amino
  • Note: refer to my blog about soy sauce I use
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup young coconut juice or vegetarian broth (room temperature)
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1-3 Thai chili or 1/2 jalapeno, chop finely (reduce amount for less spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic


  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a salad bowl or a large salad plate.

  2. Combine all the salad dressing ingredients. Adjust the lime juice and agave syrup so this dressing is a sweet, sour, and spicy. Add enough young coconut juice to make it about 1 cup. Make sure the dressing is mixed thoroughly.

  3. Just before ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and combine well.

  4. Add garnish on top of salad, serve immediately in a room temperature with rice crackers, papadum, and drizzle with Sriracha hot chili sauce, if desired.
While shopping in Vietnamese markets, I discovered Vietnamese rice crackers that is usually served with this kind of salad. The Vietnamese name is Bánh da.

It is made of rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, water, black sesame seetd, and peanut. In this case, it was covered with black sesame seeds. It is crispy like a large cracker about 12-inches diameter and is broken into pieces when it is served with the salad. A closer look:

I thought that this rice cracker is quite delicious with the salad or even just for snacking by itself. It reminds me of Indian papadums. I guess every culture has chips as snacks and this one is a great Vietnamese snacks. Here is how this salad is served: rice cracker on the bottom, top with salad, and drizzle with Sriracha hot sauce. I made sure that every bite has all 3.

This is our favorite salad. It can be a light meal by itself for a hot summer. I cannot describe how good is the combination of sour green mango and green apple, sweet carrots, crispy jicama and cucumber, spicy sweet and sour dressing, refreshing herbs, and crackling rice chips all together. It was a party in our mouth!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crispy Veggie Eggs

Courtesy of

Yields 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes


  • 7 pieces of fresh tofu (in box, medium firm), mashed into a paste
  • 2 salted radishes*, washed and finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 stalks scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom seasoning**
  • 4 Tablespoons rice flour*
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper (optional)
* Available in Asian markets ** Available in Asian markets, the health food stores, or from


  1. Combine tofu with salted radish and the seasoning ingredients. Mix well.
  2. Use your hands to shape the tofu mixture into flat, round Tablespoon-sized, patties. Preheat the canola oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu patties until golden. Store in the refrigerator.

Stir-Fried Tofu With Almonds

Courtesy of

Yields 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes


  • 1 pound (about ½ kg) tofu*, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, cut in small chunks
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • ½ can (or 4 oz.) water chestnuts
  • 4 stalks scallion, chopped in short pieces
  • 1 small ginger root, about 5 cm (2 inches), thinly sliced or shredded
  • ½ teaspoon tapioca starch*
  • 1 Tablespoon spring water
  • ¼ cup sliced roasted almonds
Marinade sauce:
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce (can use Healthy Boy brand)*
  • 1 teaspoon minced sweet onion
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter

* Available in Asian markets


  1. Marinate tofu cubes in the marinade sauce for about 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Preheat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the marinated tofu using rapid movements until the tofu turns partially golden. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Using the same pan, add in the remaining canola oil, bell pepper chunks, sliced celery chunks, water chestnuts, chopped scallion, and shredded ginger. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the tapioca starch and water together.

  5. When all vegetables are partially cooked, stir in the soy sauce and the tapioca starch mixture until the sauce thickens.

  6. Then add in the stir-fried tofu and the roasted almonds. Stir well. Season to taste.

Note: * Serve with hot rice. This dish is rich in protein.

Fried Tofu With Onions

Courtesy of Alternative Living Recipes

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Yields 4 servings


  • 1 block (300g or 10 oz.) fresh tofu*, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 stalks scallion (use white part), washed and finely chopped
  • 2 red chili peppers, washed and cut vertically
  • 2 Tablespoons Maggi seasoning sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon vegetarian BBQ sauce*
  • A few cilantro leaves
  • Pinch of black pepper

* Available in Asian markets


  1. Preheat the olive oil in a frying pan on high heat and fry tofu until golden. Then add the ingredients for seasonings. Stir well. Add the chopped scallions and the chili peppers. Stir one more time then transfer to a plate.

Decoration: Garnish the dish with cilantro and the black pepper on top.

Ridiculously Easy Vietnamese-Style Stir-Fry

Courtesy of Vegan Feast Kitchen/ 21st Century Table http:

Servings: 2


  • 8 oz. (227 g) vegan "beef" strips, such as President's Choice Meatless Beef Strips, Yves "Beef Tenders", Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Steak Strips, or Lightlife Smart Menu Steak Strips (or a good "beefy" seitan" cut into strips would also work)
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder or granules freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs dark or mushroom soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs vegetarian "fish sauce" (see below), or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1 Tbs oil (Chinese cold-pressed peanut oil, if possible)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes, thinly-sliced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 small green onions, chopped
  • about a tablespoon more of vegetarian "fish sauce" or alternate, according to taste more freshly-ground black pepper to taste


  1. Combine the strips with the garlic granules, black pepper to taste, dark soy sauce and "fish sauce".

  1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet or stir-fry pan. When hot, add the strips, crushed garlic, and the marinade.
  2. Stir-fry until the strips start to brown. Add the tomatoes, green onions, and water and stir-fry just until the tomatoes soften.
  3. Taste to see if it needs more pepper, and/or "fish sauce".
  4. Serve immediately.

Smoked Tofu and Mango Summer/Salad Rolls

Courtesy of Spice Island Vegan

Serve 16

Summer/Salad Rolls Ingredients:

  • 16 Vietnamese rice papers
  • 2 large ripe mango, peeled and cut in 4" by 1/2" thick
  • 1 medium head of green lettuce, shredded thinly
  • 1 English cucumber, cut in 4" by 1/2 " thick
  • 2 cups julienne cut peeled carrots marinated with:
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp vegan sugar
  • 1 lb baked-and-marinated tofu or smoked tofu, cut in 4" by 1/2" thick
  • 1 cup basil leaves, separate leaves from stems

Note: I like to use the Thai Basil type but I have used the Italian Sweet Basil too. Whatever is available in your area will be fine.

Optional: 2-3 cups cooked rice vermicelli or thin soba noodles

Clockwise from upper left hand corner: ripe mango, cucumbers, basil leaves, julienned-and-marinated carrots, smoked-baked tofu, and shredded green lettuce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 4 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar or fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tsp Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onion
  1. Marinade the julienne cut peeled carrots with the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Combine and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The carrots will be limp and seasoned or pickled. Then drain them thoroughly (you can do this 1 day ahead if you like).

  2. To make the peanut dipping sauce, combine hot water and peanut butter until it is well mixed and the peanut butter is melted and thinner. Then, add the rest of the peanut dipping sauce ingredients, set aside (you can to this 1 day ahead if you like).

  3. Prepare a large bowl of warm water (about 120F), a damp and clean kitchen towel(wet a clean kitchen towel and squeezed the water out), a large plate or cutting board. Set all the ingredients of the Summer/Salad rolls around you so that it is within reach. BTW, I learned this method at Bryanna's vegan cooking school in 2004.

  4. Dip a rice paper in the bowl of warm water and circle it around to make sure it is all wet and covered with water.

  5. Quickly put the rice paper on the damp kitchen towel. Let the water soaks through the paper. I usually count about 30 seconds before I put the ingredients on it and start rolling.

  6. Pile the ingredients on the wet rice paper. At this time the paper will be limp and pliable but it should not tear. If you wait too long the rice paper will be too soft and easily torn. You'll have to work QUICKLY.

  7. Start rolling like making burrito. I like to put the basil leave on the outside layer of the roll to make it prettier. I usually put the leave right side down. You can put 1 leave or 2 to 3 leaves in a row. You'll see the result later. It's nice!

  8. Then, continue wrapping it like burrito. Again, work QUICKLY!

  9. Roll and tada! Here is the final result and you'll see the leave behind the transparent rice paper. It's an art!

  10. Repeat steps 4 to 9, 15 times. It looks hard but with practice it will become easier and easier each time. If the rice paper is torn or stuck together, you can throw it away and start all over again. It's cheap, you know. Believe me, I have done that and been there before but I am persistent and determined to tackle this skill. I had practiced many times and ate many smoked tofu and mango goi cuons which is not too bad of an experience. DH loves it too that I practiced a lot.

  11. Then, you can eat the roll whole with the peanut dipping sauce or cut it in a diagonal like the picture below.

If you are allergic to peanut, I have a peanut-free dipping sauce for it. Check out the salad dressing in my blog titled Vietnamese Green Mango Salad. This dressing is great for a dipping sauce for this salad roll.

Regarding the smoked-baked-marinated tofu, you may want to check on Bryanna's blog regarding A Nifty Gadget for Pressing Tofu. This kind of tofu is great for this recipe. I don't have this nifty gadget myself but I usually buy an extra firm tofu. Bryanna suggesteds 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part maple syrup, and a little sesame oil for the marinade. I added 1 part of water, 1 tsp liquid smoke, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder for the smoked tofu marinade sauce. Make sure that all the tofu slices are covered in the marinade sauce and let them submerged in the marinade for at least 4 hours. Then, you can bake them in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes or pan fry them in a skillet. Basically, you can create your own version of the marinade sauce.

These rolls are to be eaten within a day (we have no problems with that). They are not good to be refrigerated and eaten the next day (have done that, too).

Gluten and Non-glutinous Noodles

Courtesy of

  • 250g (8.8 oz) bread flour
  • 150 ml water
  • Some salt
  • Some oil


(1) Dissolve salt into water, add to the bread flour and knead into dough. (Pic 1, 2, 3)
Pic. 1
Pic. 2
Pic. 3

(2) Wrap the dough with plastic and set aside for at least 30 minutes. (Pic 4)
Pic. 4

(3) Put the dough into a strainer. Set the strainer in a container filled with water. Wash the dough in the water. When the water turns white, replenish with fresh water and continue to wash. Repeat for 3 to 4 times until water stays clean. What is left in the strainer is gluten. (Pic 5, 6)
Pic. 5
Pic. 6

(Note: The first time when you wash the dough, wash it for a longer time. Do not dump the water from the first wash. Save in a separate container to make non-glutinous noodles or pancakes.)
(4) Keep the washed gluten in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. When the small holes in the gluten disappear, it means the gluten is ready. (Pic 7: Uncooked gluten.)
Pic. 7 Uncooked gluten

(5) Pinch or cut the gluten into small pieces. Deep fry till golden brown. You may also make the gluten into various shapes and boil them. Keep the water at the boiling point by adding some cold water before the water bubbles too much. When the gluten pieces rise to the surface, take them out.
(6) The fried or boiled gluten can be used for making soup or frying with vegetables. It can also marinate in soy sauce or other kinds of sauces to your liking, for barbecue or stew.

Processing the water from washing gluten:

Pic. 8
(1) Filter the water with a fine strainer. Keep the water in a container and store in the refrigerator for over 4 hours or overnight, to let the deposit settle.

(2) Remove from the refrigerator. Slowly pour out the clearer water on the top and allow the deposit to stay at the bottom. Do not pour all the water out, save 120 ml of it in the container. Stir the deposit evenly with a spoon. This is the mixture to make non-glutinous noodles. (Pic 8: the deposit for making non-glutinous noodles.)

Directions for making Non-glutinous Noodles

(1) Brush a little oil on the surface of a oblong metal pan. Pour noodle mixture into the pan to form a thin layer. (Pic 9)
Pic. 9

(2) Place the pan in a pot filled with water and steam over high heat for about 15 minutes until noodle mixture puffs up a little and becomes a transparent sheet. (Pic 10)
Pic. 10

(3) Remove the pan from hot water and place it in a container filled with cold water and allow pan float until cool. After it cools down, use a spatula to remove the sheet from the pan and brush oil on both sides. Cut into strips. Mix with your favorite sauce, some cucumber shreds or other ingredients, and the delicious noodle is ready to serve.
*The mixture can also be used to make frying pancakes (Pic 11) or mix with other kinds of starch to make various foods.
*The dehydrated deposit from washing gluten is called non-glutinous flour available on the market. It is often used for making semi-transparent wrappers for Chinese food, such as crystal dumplings.