Eggplant and mushrooms in black bean sauce (No Oil, No Refined Sugar)

This was an accidental and very delicious experiment when the plan was to cook some mushrooms but discovering that an eggplant had to be used. You can obtain black bean sauce which comes in jars, from most Asian grocers.
Ingredients:

1 eggplant, cubed
10-15 white button mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli, deseeded (optional)
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon kechap manis
1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 3 teaspoons water to form a slurry
Method:

  1. Sprinkle salt liberally over eggplant and leave to “sweat” for 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  2. Sautéed onion in a non-stick pan until it starts to caramalise. Add a small amount of water if it starts to stick.
  3. Add black bean sauce, eggplant, mushrooms, garlic and soy sauce. Put a lid on the pan and stir occasionally. Turn the heat down.
  4. When the eggplant and mushroom looks close to being cooked, remove the lid. There should be a sauce from juices of the mushroom.
  5. Add the slurry to thicken the sauce and you’re done!

Vegetable dumplings (No oil option)

Making dumplings is always a family affair in my parents’ house. Someone is chopping with a cleaver, someone is kneading dough and many people are wrapping dumplings. These dumplings freeze well and can be added to soups or steamed up quickly for a quick dinner that feels extra fancy. You can pick up dumpling wrappers at all Asian grocers, and some supermarkets.
Dumplings ingredients:

2 cups shredded cabbage
1 small carrots, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
4 button mushrooms, sliced
1 dried shitake mushroom, soaked in water to soften and sliced
200g firm tofu, roughly mashed
1 small can of bamboo shoots, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
500g dumpling wrappers
Dipping sauce ingredients:

1/4 cups soy sauce
1/4 cups rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 chilli sliced
Dumplings method:

  1. Sautee onion in a non stick pan. As the onion start to caramalise, add water used to soak the shitake mushroom to prevent the onion for sticking to the pan. If you run out of the mushroom water, you can add some water.
  2. Add ginger and garlic. Then the tofu and all other vegetables except for the bamboo shoots.
  3. Sautee until cabbage softens, add soy sauce and white pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Allow the mixture to cool.
  4. Put mixture through the food processor. There is no need to push the mixture on the sides down. Some chunks is good for texture.
  5. Add the chopped bamboo shoots and stir through the mixture.
  6. Fill a dumpling wrapper with 1 teaspoon of the mixture, wet half the circumference of the wrapper, fold in half with the filling inside, so it now forms a semi-circle. Form pleats on the outside of the dumpling. See this dumpling video below to illustrate how it’s done. Credit to Delightful Vegans for this clip.
  7. Make as many dumplings as you have filling or the wrappers. It can be a difficult estimate to have the exact amount of filling for number of wrappers you have. If you have excess wrappers, they freeze well in a ziplock bag. If you have excess filling, they can be eaten on its own or with some rice.
  8. To cook the dumplings:

Oil free: place the dumplings in a steamer lined with baking paper for 10 minutes.
Non-oil free: In a hot non-stick pan, put in 1 tablespoon of oil. When oil reaches smoke point, put dumplings in the pan. Add 1/4 cups of water into the pan, it will sizzle. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to its lowest plan and let the dumplings steam in the pan. Once the water is fully absorbed, turn the dumplings and put the lid on. Continue to do this until sides of the dumplings is browned.

Sauce method:

  1. Mix all ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Serve with slices of the chilli depending on how spicy you like your dumplings.

Miso Glazed Eggplant

I love this sweet and salty miso glazed eggplant which is another delicious addition to a buddha bowl, or just served with cooked grains.
Ingredients

2 large or 3 small eggplants
3 tablespoons miso
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of sesame oil (optional, leave out for oil free option)
Method

  1. Halve the eggplant and sprinkle with salt to “sweat” the eggplant for 15 minutes.
  2. Rinse off salt and dry the eggplant. Cut a criss-cross pattern on the inside surface of the eggplant.
  3. Sear the eggplant on a non-stick pan, face down, until it is slightly brown. Then remove from heat.
  4. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl into a smooth paste. Coat the seared surface of the eggplant with this mixture.
  5. Bake the eggplant in a pre-heated oven to 200C for 20 minutes or until the tops of the eggplant is glazed.

Five Spice Tofu (No Oil, Gluten Free)

I love having friends who love to cook. Apart from admiring their delicious looking Instagram accounts, it has given me an appreciation at the accents of Asian inspired meals I create. This week, I was inspired to explore the use of 5-spice. It has a strong aroma, marked by the inclusion of ground star anise, and is used in Chinese and Taiwanese cooking. Traditionally, it has been used mostly to season meats. In the next few weeks, I will be inspired to create plant based meals that uses this spice mix creatively, starting with this 5-spice tofu. The marinated tofu brings a warm and comforting aroma, finished with a sticky and garlicky sauce. It’s a great addition in any buddha bowl.
Ingredients:

Marinate
1 block firm tofu, well drained
1/2 teaspoon ground 5-spice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Method:

  1. Cut tofu into large pieces and arrange in a container where they can all lie flat.
  2. Mix 5-spice, water and soy sauce and pour over tofu. Marinate for several hours. During this time, flip the tofu on its other side so both sides are marinated.
  3. Place tofu in a hot pan, then turn the heat down. If you use a ceramic pan, there is no need to use any oil.
  4. Brown tofu on all sides then remove from pan.
  5. Pour remaining marinate into the pan with the garlic and sugar and slowly reduce until it has a stickier consistency.
  6. Return tofu to the pan and coat with the sauce.
  7. Serve with sprinkles of sesame seeds.

Israeli Cous Cous Salad (No Oil, No Refined Sugar)

Summer seem to have made a return to Melbourne today and I was inspired to make this salad with vibrant colours of summer and aroma of fresh herbs.
Ingredients:

Cous cous
1.5 cups wholewheat cous cous
1.5 cups water
1 bayleaf (optional)
Salt to taste (optional)

Dressing
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 cups raisins (blanched if oil free preferred)

Salad
1 red pepper/capsicum
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped
Rind of a lemon
Pepper
Method:

  1. Toast cous cous in a saucepan over moderate heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add water and bayleaf. Bring to boil. Then simmer at a very low heat covered. Cook for about 8 minutes. Turn off heat and leave cous cous to rest and cool.
  3. To make dressing, put lemon juice, mustard and raisins in a jar and shake. Pour dressing over cous cous, mix and leave to rest whilst you prepare the salad items.
  4. Mix cous cous and salad items and serve.

Sundried Tomatoes Sweet Potato Burger (No Oil, No Refined Sugar)

We are still in summer even though people are back at work or school. These burgers are great for BBQs or quick lunches when you’re in between pool time. The sundried tomatoes, basil and chilli flavors brings a punch of flavor mellowed by the sweetness of the potato. And I love the crispy crunch of a burger that has been cooked with patience.

I often use these burgers in a buddha bowl (you know I love my buddha bowls). If you do use it in a bun, I suggest using an olive tapanade as a spread, then loading it up with crisp lettuce and sweet juicy tomatoes slices.

Ingredients:

1 garlic minced
1/4 onion chopped
2 button mushrooms diced
4 sundried tomatoes chopped
1 chilli chopped
1/2 cup oat flour
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked sweet poatoes
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 cup spring onions, sliced
1/4 basil

Method:

  1. Sautee onion, garlic, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and chilli in a pan until onion is translucent and mushrooms cooked.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor, except for sauteed ingredients and spring onion. Process until a smooth paste.
  3. Add sauteed ingredients and spring onions and pulse several times.
  4. Shape mix into burger patties. Makes four.
  5. Pan fry on low heat until brown on each side.

Orange Chilli Tofu (No Oil, No Refined Sugar, Gluten Free)

Many of you know that buddha bowls are my favourite.  It’s a great way to add a wide diversity of nutrients in one meal, and the ability to choose your own toppings makes it a great party option to cater to individuals with different food intolerances.

Today’s buddha bowl topping is orange chilli tofu, inspired by a friend who introduced me to Korean chilli paste.

Ingredients:

1 block of firm tofu
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1orange, juiced and zested
1 tablespoon Korean chilli paste (you can use another type of chilli if you like)
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup or sweetener of choice

Method:

  1. Wrap the tofu in clean towels and rest something heavy (e.g., chopping board, pot) on top of it for 15 minutes. This will drain the tofu of some of its water.
  2. In a bowl, mix the orange juice, chilli, tomato sauce and sweetener.
  3. Sautee onion in 2 tablespoons of water in a non-stick pan until it has softened.
  4. Add garlic and tofu and sautee for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the orange chilli mix you have prepared and cook the tofu some more until the sauce has reduced to a consistency you like.

Fluffy Baked Falafels (No Oil, No Refined Sugar, Gluten Free)

Finally a falafel recipe that is fluffy! Great in wraps or on a salad.

Ingredients:

1 can chick peas (rinsed well and drained)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1 1/2 teaspoon tahini
Salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup cooked potato
1/4 cup parsley/corriander
2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon siracha
1 teaspoon flaxseed

Method:

  1. Roast chick peas in oven 200C, for 15 minutes
  2. Add onion and garlic and roast for another 10 minutes
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until they are no big chunks.
  4. Scoop processed ingredients and roll into balls (I find using an ice-cream scoop helpful. Place balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Bake in a 190C oven for 10 minutes. Then turn balls over and bake for another 10 minutes.

General Tso Chickpeas (No Oil, No Refined Sugar, Gluten Free)

This is a healthier version of what is originally a sweet and greasy American-Chinese chicken dish. So delicious!

Ingredients:

Marinate:
1 can chick peas rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Sauce:
6 tablespoons broth
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons siracha
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
4 teaspoons sweetener (e.g., maple syrup, honey, brown sugar)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teasoon sesame oil (omit if cooking no oil option)

Vegetables:
Capsicum, cut into strips
Zucchini, chopped
Red onion, sliced
Garlic, minced

Whole cashews

Method:

  1. Marinate chick peas.
  2. Mix all ingredients for the sauce together in a separate bowl.
  3. Reserve a small amount of the red onions to use as garnish.
  4. In a hot pan, sautee the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of water until onion is softened.
  5. Add marinated chick peas and vegetables and stir for half a minute.
  6. Add sauce and stir periodically and add cashews in the last minute.
  7. Serve with rice and garnish with raw red onions.

Crispy Hashbrown (No Oil, No Refined Sugar, Gluten Free)

Holy Moly these no oil hashbrowns took a while to perfect. There has been a few tears over sticky frying pans and gloopy potatoes. All worth it to get to these crispy  and crunchy, no oil morsels.

Ingredients:

4 potatoes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Grate potatoes.
  2. Put grated potatoes in a tea towel. Wrap tea towel around the potatoes into a sack and squeeze the tea towel to squeeze out excess juice from potatoes.
  3. Toss potatoes in a large bowl with seasoning to separate the pieces.
  4. Spread potatoes on a silicone tray. The silicone tray is important for it not to stick.
  5. Spread the potatoes to allow as much air to move through the potatoes as possible.
  6. Place in pre-heated oven of 150C.
  7. Start checking the potatoes from the 15 minutes mark and remove the potatoes from the oven until the potatoes are brown and crispy.