Emi's Good Eating

Be good to yourself and all fellow animals

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Easy Dandan Mien or Tan Tan Mein

 

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Dandan noodles is a fiery dish that comes from Sichuan. I first tasted it in Shanghai many years ago and have been hankering to make it myself ever since. I love fiery foods.

There are variations on spelling the name, including tan tan or tantan. The name refers to the pole on which street vendors traditionally sold the dish and, according to Wikipedia, the name literally translates to “noodles carried on a pole” or “peddler’s noodles”.

Thanks to a Kiwi Instagrammer’s general ingredients guidance (and twenty year vegan), I came up with my version. Thanks, Monsieur Vegan Burger! Serves four.

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 750ml-1L vegetable stock or water
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (either light or dark, whichever you prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons miso (again, either light or dark depending on your preference)
  • thumb sized fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sichuan pepper corns or 1 hot chili, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons shoyu soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • chili oil (to taste and/or optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon

For the rest:

  • one block of tofu (firm or extra firm), cubed
  • 100-200g shiitake (or other type) mushrooms (optional), thinly sliced
  • noodles of your choice (ramen, soba, udon, Thai rice or if you do not fancy noodles, use bean sprouts instead)
  • 200-300g spinach or kale or Chinese/pointed cabbage, chopped
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds (light or black)
  • 4-5 spring onions, chopped

Method 

Start by cubing the tofu, boiling it and then either pan frying it or baking it in the oven. See these instructions for getting your tofu to the best possible texture. Ensure the tofu is nice and crispy so that it will soak up the soup base, while still remaining crispy. Set the tofu aside while you prepare the soup.

If you will be using mushrooms, then quickly sauté these (with oil or water) and set aside. See photo below of a version of this dish with mushrooms.

In a large saucepan (large enough to hold the stock/water – no need to use multiple pans!) heat the sesame oil over medium-high flame. Watch that it doesn’t begin to smoke – it won’t take long.

Sauté the onion and ginger over medium-high heat until the onion is soft (10-12 minutes). Add the chili pepper and/or the Sichuan pepper corns after 5 minutes.

Finish cooking the onion and ginger. Lower the heat to low and add the tahini and shoyu. Stir well to combine these and add a little bit of vegetable stock/water to help you along.

Once well amalgamated, add the rest of the water/stock and turn up to high heat. Cover and let it come to a boil – briefly. Immediately turn down the heat and simmer on low heat. 

Add the kale/cabbage/spinach, tofu and mushrooms and cover. Let the soup simmer gently for five minutes or so, or while you prepare the noodles. The vegetables should be just wilted. If you prefer the vegetables more tender, then increase the cooking time. 

Add the miso, mirin, sake, chili oil and lemon to the soup at the very end just before you are ready to ladle it into your bowl. Stir well, particularly to get the miso well amalgamated. Taste for seasoning and spiciness. 

Prepare the noodles. Once they are cooked, drain and divide them up among your bowls. If you fancy this dish without noodles, then use a generous handful of bean sprouts instead! Ladle the soup on top of the noodles and sprinkle each bowl with sesame seeds and spring onions.

Serve warm. If you have left over soup, it keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days. Just remember to save it without the noodles or you might end up with a gooey noodly mush.

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Dandan mien with shiitake mushrooms and kale

 

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Dandan mien with crispy baked tofu (no oil), king oyster mushrooms and bean sprouts instead of noodles

The animals we love are no different from the animals we use as food. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

First published 11 September 2015

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Esther The Wonder Pig Wants You To Read Carefully and Be Vegan

Click here for my latest piece for Ecorazzi. It is a follow up piece to this one and in it I reiterate my point that we should be clear about veganism.

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We cannot have a positive reaction to Esther’s story, or any animal story for that matter, and go on using them for reasons that are purely frivolous – pleasure and convenience. We do not need to use animals to thrive, or look great or eat delicious things. Please give this some thought. It is the relationship with Esther herself that opened up the eyes of Mr Jenkins and his partner to go vegan. And like them, we all can go vegan.

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Esther The Wonder Pig Wants You To Be Vegan

Click here for my latest piece for Ecorazzi.

Esther has a life because of her two dads. She might not have been the pig they were expecting, but her very existence demands that they – and we – become the advocates that she and all the animals like her want us to be. 

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We cannot have a positive reaction to Esther’s story or any animal story for that matter, and go on using them for reasons that are purely frivolous – pleasure and convenience. We do not need to use animals to thrive, or look great or eat delicious things. Please give this some thought. It is the relationship with Esther herself that opened up the eyes of her “two dads” to go vegan. And like them, we all can go vegan. http://www.howdoigovegan.com

 

Coconut stew combining kale, courgette and mung beans


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A little bit of Kenya in London: Coconut Greens Stew

In 2015, I travelled to Nairobi and Meru National Park, Kenya. It was my first time.

While in Meru, I felt as if I were in a nature documentary and could not believe I was actually there. There were many favourite moments and a thousand photos snapped. Here is a favourite photo and a favourite video: the wee Hyrax, who is related to the elephant (yes, this little guy!)

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Hy!

Just as we were heading to the dusty airfield to return to Nairobi, we came across a group of elephants drinking from a stream. We watched as long as we could and we were all in awe, including the guide who kept us there until the last possible second.
I was overcome by joy, the beauty that I had just experienced over those few days in Meru and an overwhelming sense of grief too for what we do to elephants and to all animals all over the globe, to flora everywhere, to each other and to ourselves, that, for the entire flight back to Nairobi, I just wept big, fat, hot tears. Good thing the flight was not crowded. I fooled no one despite wearing my big sunglasses.
In Nairobi, I spent some time looking for (and successfully finding) Kenyan fabrics on Biashara Street (got to get on with designing a few things now) and
Kenyan fabricslearning about a few new microfinance and micro insurance projects with the wonderful folks at the Grameen Foundation.
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It was during lunch with the above-pictured group that I sampled a delicious vegetable stew along with ugalithe staple Kenyan side dish made of white maize meal. I very much liked everything and my new friend, Carrie, promised to send me a recipe for a mung bean and coconut stew. A few weeks later, she did.

I used Carrie’s recipe as inspiration for this stew. Mine contains kale and courgette, rather than mung beans (I have also made it with both vegetables and mung beans), and is much more spicy than the Kenyan stew I had. The stew may be made with any other dark leafy green or any other type of bean. I didn’t find the right maize meal to make ugali, but I did find gari, a West African flour made of cassava and made that instead.

To round things out because one can never have enough coconut, I also made wali wa nazi, coconut rice. I used a mixture of barley and rice because I like that combination of textures (barley is thicker than rice and rather chewy). I added a tablespoon of flax meal while the barley-rice combo was cooking for extra goodness and Omegas.

Recipe for the stew and gari after photo. Serves four.

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Coconut stew with kale and green courgette

Ingredients

  • 250-400g kale (or other dark leafy green), stems removed and roughly chopped and/or 250g mung beans (aka green grams)
  • one courgette (yellow or green), roughly chopped
  • one red pepper, roughly chopped
  • three tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • one onion, roughly chopped
  • two cloves garlic, crushed
  • one teaspoon asafoetida (optional, aids in digestion)
  • one teaspoon hot chili flakes (less or more, depending on taste) or one fresh chili, chopped
  • one teaspoon vegetable oil
  • one can coconut milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
Method
 

If you will be using mung beans, then cook those thoroughly and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, chili flakes and asafoetida. Mix well, cover and let the onions sweat until soft (approximately 10 minutes). You will not be using much oil, so add water a table spoon at a time if you see the onions browning. You don’t want them to burn.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, pepper and garlic, mix and continue to cook until the tomatoes have softened and lost their shape (10-15 minutes). Keep checking and adding a bit of water if the mixture seems to be burning.

Add coconut milk, stir well and simmer for five minutes. Add the courgette and kale (and/or the mung beans), mix well and simmer for an additional five to ten minutes or until the kale has wilted and the courgette softened. Serve warm, although any leftovers keep very well for a couple of days.

For your side dishes, follow the linked recipe for the coconut rice. It turns out that gari is incredibly easy to prepare. Simply pour an amount into a bowl – I used approximately 100g – and moisten it gradually with spoonfuls of warm water until it is thoroughly moistened, yet still relatively solid, somewhat like cous cous. Set aside and it is done.

A word about the taste: cassava can have a slightly sour taste, almost like sourdough bread. I happen to love cassava and sourdough bread!

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Coconut stew with kale, yellow courgette and mung beans

The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

First published 11 May 2015


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Burns Night Supper, Part 1: Vegan Haggis

It’s Robert Burns day. Get into the spirit of the Scottish Bard and make some haggis for tonight or for the weekend. “For a’ that, an’ a’ that, It’s coming yet for a’ that, That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that.”

Emi's Good Eating

Robert Burns, is Scotland’s Bard. His works, life, song, poetry and Haggis are celebrated by Scots around the world on his birthday, 25 January. The main culinary event, is the Haggis, something else for which Scotland is famous. Interestingly, Haggis may not be Scottish after all. The Romans and Vikings have been credited with a similar creation and the first time a recipe for it appeared in print was in the 1400s in Lancashire.

What is Haggis you ask? Before we realised that using animals for our pleasure and convenience is unnecessary, it was a combination of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, mixed with oats, onion, spices and stock and baked in the sheep’s stomach. The vegan version is a delicious, savoury and satisfying mixture off all the flavours that make haggis, haggis! I make haggis a few times a year, not only on Burns Night.

Haggis takes some time…

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Eat Your Greens Pesto

Long gone are the days when pesto meant only the classic Italian sauce of basil, garlic, walnuts and olive oil (yes, walnuts, not pine nuts). Now, you may add this simple, oil free, fast, inexpensive, nutritious and delicious recipe to your pesto repertoire using broccoli!

This recipe is enough for two people and can easily be scaled up. It also keeps well in a lidded glass jar for about five days.

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Ingredients

  • one small bunch of broccoli, roughly chopped – include the stems! Just cut off the hard outer layer and use the inner core
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup cashews (or other nut of your preference)
  • 1/2 cup water for soaking the cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (pink or other of your preference)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped including stems
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • black pepper to taste

Method

Start by soaking the nuts for at least an hour. If you have a high speed blender, soaking becomes less essential. Reserve the soaking water.

Blanch the broccoli and the stems in boiling (roiling boil) for about 10 seconds. They will become very green, almost neon. Drain and set aside.

In a high speed blender or food processor, combine the broccoli, nuts, nut soaking water and the rest of the ingredients. Blend until you achieve a creamy consistency. 

If you will be using the sauce right away, then it will be warm enough. If it has cooled down too much for your liking, then just pour it back into a saucepan and heat lightly over medium heat, making sure you do not burn the bottom.

Use the broccoli pesto for pasta, gnocchi or even as a dip for bread or crackers. It is delicious anyway you use it.

Here, I have combined the sauce with two or three dried tomatoes that I rehydrated and tossed the lot with spaghetti.

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If you bristle at stories of animal abuse, then you are already vegan and just don’t know it. The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started. 

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Beans, Greens and Pasta Soup

This is a very simple, tasty, inexpensive, nutritious and quick meal, using whatever beans, greens and pasta we may have on hand. You may use tinned beans and frozen greens, small pasta or larger sized or even rice, millet, quinoa or cous cous. Ultimately, this recipe should serve as an inspiration to explore combination of flavours, textures and foods.

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I used a jar of white French beans, fresh spinach (not the baby spinach, but the full grown leaves and stems, well rinsed) and fregola, a type of pasta from Sardegna, made with semolina and toasted in the oven. I happened to have fregola in my cupboard because I like keeping lots of different types of pasta. But any type of pasta will do (or even rice, millet, quinoa or cous cous). It should be on the smaller scale so that it will fit on a spoon, and even breaking up raw spaghetti will achieve that. 

Recipe serves four or two with plenty of leftovers for repeat dinner later in the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 850ml jar of white French beans or two cans of whatever beans you have on hand (and keep the brine – aquafaba – because you will use it in the soup)
  • 1 cup (raw) fregola or other small pasta/rice/cous cous
  • 2 packed cups chopped leafy greens, whether spinach, kale or other green
  • one stock cube, optional
  • smoked tofu or leftover seitan, cubed, optional and quantity to taste
  • soy sauce or tamari, optional and used instead of stock cube and seitan 
  • salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and olive oil (can be oil free)

Method

Pour a glug of olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium flame. If you do not wish to use oil, then have water handy to water-sauté. 

Sauté the onions and the celery until soft (10-15 minutes). Add the garlic and let it get lightly brown.  

While sautéing, cook the pasta. Just before draining it, reserve a mugful of the pasta cooking water. It will add a nice flavour to the soup. 

When the onions and celery are soft, crumble the stock cube into the saucepan, add two cups of water, the tomatoes and mix well. Let the water come to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. If you are adding smoked tofu or have leftover seitan, add that to the saucepan now. If you have neither seitan nor stock cube, then add two tablespoons of soy sauce of tamari. These ingredients add umami to the dish alongside the tomatoes, onion and celery.

Once the tomatoes have softened significantly, add the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, beans with brine and the greens. If you are using fresh greens, cook them only until they wilt. If you are using frozen greens, then cook them until they are thoroughly warmed. Mix well and taste for seasoning. 

When I cooked the fregola, I let it cook a bit less so that it was very al dente when I added it to the pot. The fregola continued to cook and absorb water as it married into the soup (see photo below). Any type of pasta will do that to varying degrees.  

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Serve the soup hot with liberal sprinklings of nutritional yeast and pepper. This soup keeps well. 

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The animals we love are no different from the animals we eat. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It is easier than ever and http://www.howdoigovegan.com will help you get started.