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July 2017

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Braised Mushroom and Tofu

Has anyone watched the documentary on Netflix called “What the Health”? I really like food documentaries, but I do find them to be biased and fear mongering, and this one was definitely on the extreme fear mongering side. My first reaction after watching “What the Health” was to immediately become a vegan! But I know that is impossible – I love all kinds of food way too much and my husband would probably divorce me if I told him we were going to become a vegan household!

However, I do think there are legitimate health reasons to eat more plant-based foods and to limit animal and dairy products. I think ‘moderation’ is an approach not taken enough – our society tends to embrace the ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to diet and exercise. Also, our society tends to like labels – vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, etc. Can we just stop it already with the labels? What’s wrong with just trying to eat healthy most of the time without giving your food choices a label? Personally, I think labels introduce guilt and judgment, and life is hard enough without inflicting those emotions on myself and others!

Also, on a related side note: I’m always curious about those vegans who eat imitation cheese or imitation meat. Those imitation products are so processed – you can’t tell me that those processed imitation products are healthier than just having a piece of real cheese once in awhile?!

For me, I could never become an ‘all or nothing’ vegetarian or vegan, but I can take steps to limit the animal products that I eat and that my family eats. For one, I am going to make more of an effort to order the vegetarian option when I go out to fancy restaurants now. Most of the time, these vegetarian options are dishes that require more effort than I am willing to put into my cooking so I should take advantage of it! Secondly, I am going to make an effort to have one vegetarian dinner per week in our household, a “meatless Monday” if you will (except I can’t guarantee that it will be Mondays all the time).

So getting my husband to even adopt one meatless dinner per week is going to be tough. He’s a small town Saskatchewan boy, he likes his meat and potatoes, and he is a big eater. If I’m going to make a vegetarian dinner, it needs to be hearty!

My first ‘meatless Monday’ dish was a braised mushroom and tofu dish, Asian-style. You guys, this was my first time buying tofu! I went to the Asian food store in Regina here, and bought the tofu as well as a dark and light soy sauce since we had run out.

I bought my shiitake mushrooms at the Asian food store as well. I was looking for dried shiitake mushrooms as they have more flavour than fresh, but they only had fresh ones. You can use dried shiitake if that’s what you have, just soak them in water for about 20 minutes before cooking. For the tofu, you’ll have to deep fry it for a few minutes until it is golden brown. I just used a small pot with enough canola oil to submerge the tofu pieces. I wish I had an Acti-fry though – that would be a healthier preparation for the tofu. I’ll have to put Acti-fry on my wish list of kitchen supplies.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! I served this dish with some jasmine rice and a side of sliced cucumbers to dip into the delicious sauce. The husband said it tasted great, but both he and I were still kind of hungry after (we are both big eaters though!).

What are some of your favourite vegetarian recipes?

Braised Mushroom and Tofu

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box firm tofu
  • Canola oil to deep fry the tofu
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 shiitake mushrooms (if dried, soak in warm water for 20 minutes before cooking)
  • 2 bunches of bok choy, wash and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp water + 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 stalk green onions, chopped

Instructions

1

Cut the tofu into 1-2 inch rectangles and pat dry with paper towels. Heat up a wok/deep fryer/pot with enough oil to submerge the tofu pieces and deep fry them until they are golden brown (about 10 minutes). Remove with slotted spoon and set them aside on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

2

Heat up a medium sized pot and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the minced garlic, and stirfry for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, bok choy and the fried tofu.

3

Add the soy sauces, oyster sauce, sugar and water, and give it a stir.

4

Cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat to low, and let it braise for 15 minutes.

5

Add in the corn starch slurry, stir and let the pot sit on low heat for 5 more minutes uncovered on the stove.

6

Add in the green onion and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Featured/ Restaurant Review

Favourite Calgary Food Spots

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything! I’ve just been enjoying the summer weather and the last few months of my maternity leave. I spend every waking moment outside with my baby, either going for walks or lounging in our front yard or back deck. Suppers have been simple affairs since I hate to spend much time in the kitchen when the weather is so gorgeous out.

If some of you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen that I spent a week in Calgary in June. I love that city. If for some reason I had to move from Regina, I would probably move to Calgary. My sister lives in Calgary and she and her husband are huge foodies, so we always end up trying new restaurants and revisiting some old faves. I thought I’d share some of our new finds and and old favourites in this blog post!

Noodle World

Okay, so I obviously have to share our favourite Vietnamese place in Calgary. It’s a place called Noodle World and it’s on 17th Ave SE. It has authentic Vietnamese dishes and great pho. It also has these dinner options on the menu called “Family Dinners” and you can order them for 4 or 6 people. The “Family Dinners” are meant to be like traditional big Vietnamese family dinners where there are several different plates and a soup course, all eaten with generous servings of white rice. We always order the Family Dinners when we go to Noodle World and we all leave full and happy. The family dinners consist of a fish soup (my favourite!), a tofu and bean sprout stirfry (my sister’s favourite), a braised fish dish (my husband’s favourite) and a beef and broccoli stirfry. And you know how you know it’s good? The customers are mostly Vietnamese families!

Noodle World family dinner

Bocce Pizza

For pizza and pasta lovers, I recommend Bocce Pizza in Calgary. It is located on 4th Street SW and it offers amazing authentic Italian favourites.

To start, I highly recommend the Tallegio Friti salad. This salad is fresh, with amazing flavours and the honey truffle vinaigrette is to die for. Also, eating this salad is going to make you feel healthier and less guilty when you indulge in a couple of their delicious pizzas!

Tallegio Friti salad…yes, that is a breaded and deep fried hunk of cheese!

For pizzas, we love the Calabrese pizza with spicy fennel sausage, olives, peppers and mozzarella; the Isola with italian ham, roasted pineapples and pancetta, and the Finocchio with the chopped fennel, fennel salami and ricotta.

Wurst

There was one day where my sister volunteered to stay home and watch Baby E while she napped, so the husband and I took a stroll down 4th Street SW to have some drinks. You know you are new parents anxious for some alone time and some drinks when you’re lingering outside the pub at 10:50AM, waiting for it to open at 11AM lol! I can’t speak to the food at Wurst but they have a great drink selection and a great atmosphere to enjoy some casual drinks. My husband’s favourite beer on this trip was the Project 9 Beer by the Fernie Brewing Company. Has anyone seen this beer in Regina?

My husband loved the Project 9 beer by Fernie Brewing Co. and my delicious drink was Elderflower liquer and Prosecco! So refreshing!

Wurst – love the atmosphere!

La Boulangerie

So also on 4th Street SW is a little coffee and pastry shop called La Boulangerie. The coffee selection isn’t huge and isn’t spectacular in any way, but the pastries are to die for! My sister recommended that I order this pastry called Kouign-Amann (pronounced ‘Queen Aman’) and oh my goodness, it was divine. It’s like a puff pastry croissant with layers of butter and sugar (I know, right? How can you go wrong with layers of butter and sugar?) I’ve been here several times before and I’ve never had a bad pastry. Another favourite of mine is their chocolate croissant. Unfortunately, I devour the pastries so fast that I’ve never had a chance to take a picture!

La Boulangerie

Native Tongues Taqueria

For all you Mexican food lovers, you have to try Native Tongues Taqueria on 12 Ave SW. We went here for lunch one day and ordered a variety of tacos – confit pork, roast chicken chicken and beef brisket. They are simple, traditional tacos and are served with house made salsa verde and salsa rosa. For dessert, I recommend ordering the donas!, which are these little glazed donuts that are made in house.

 

I just love the food scene in Calgary! I can’t wait to go back in a couple months and try out some new places. Do I have any Calgary readers? What are some restaurants that I should try?