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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/ Vietnamese Recipes

Salmon Fried Rice

salmon fried rice

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend! This past weekend was hot hot hot in Regina, so we definitely took advantage of that. I spent all of my baby’s nap times sunbathing and reading on our deck.

Sunbathing and reading while baby naps

And when she was awake, we went on walks to the library and to the nearby coffee shop. With the summer coming up, Baby E is also in desperate need of summer clothes, so we hit up the White City Garage Sale for some gently used clothing and Giggle Boutique in Pilot Butte for some fancy new clothing!

Baby E in her new kicks from Giggle Boutique

However, it’s a chilly and dreary Monday today, and the husband said he would have an all day daddy/daughter day with baby, so I can get my errands and blogging done.  She’s eating solids really well, so I just need to pop home to nurse her before her naps.  She had a good two hour morning nap and I was able to do a Costco run, and now she’ll be awake with her dad for another 3 hours. I don’t even want to know what he has planned for daddy/daughter day – probably a TV marathon of Yukon Gold, Naked and Afraid or some other weird reality TV show!

I love going to Costco alone as I find it more efficient. Whenever I take the baby, there’s just not enough room in the cart to load up on all the groceries I need, and it’s a hassle to load her and the groceries into the vehicle, and then try to bring all the groceries into the house without her freaking out in her car seat. Plus, because I like to buy meat in bulk at Costco, I like to be able to come home, portion out the meat and freeze them right away, without worrying about the baby. The meats that I like to buy at Costco are steaks, eye of round roasts, pork back ribs, and fresh salmon fillets.

With the Costco salmon, I’m usually able to portion the huge fillet into about 4 portions, but there’s always that tail piece at the end that is super thin and flat, and not quite a full portion. Do you guys know what I mean? I always freeze that tail piece separately, thinking that I’ll bake it up for a small supper for myself whenever the husband is working nights, but I never do. Just the other day, I was going through the freezer and found three ziplock bags with these skinny salmon tail pieces in them. I was thinking of recipes that I could make with these pieces, and I was torn between salmon cakes or salmon fried rice. I decided to do a salmon fried rice this time around, but I’ll do salmon cakes next time!

This salmon fried rice recipe is similar to my shrimp and swiss chard recipe, just the protein and vegetable components have been switched up. I baked the salmon pieces and then broke up the cooked salmon into chunks.

I didn’t have any swiss chard or any greens on hand, so I just used frozen mixed vegetables as my vegetable component. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Salmon Fried Rice

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 small salmon fillets
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice (day old rice is best)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce

Instructions

1

Season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until they are just done.

2

Using a fork, break up the cooked salmon into chunks and set aside

3

Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan or wok on medium high heat. Crack the eggs into the pan and scramble them with a spatula. When the eggs are scrambled, add the rice and stirfry for about 4 minutes.

4

Add the frozen vegetables and stirfry until they are heated through. (If you are using greens, stirfry until they are wilted). This should take about 4-5 minutes.

5

Add the salmon chunks and stirfry to combine all the ingredients well.

6

Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and mix well until all of the rice is coated. You may need to add a bit more of the soy sauce to taste and/or for all of the rice to be coated and have a golden colour.

7

Remove from heat and serve with a nice cold beer!

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Vietnamese Banana Tapioca Dessert (“Che Chuoi”)

You know you’re an adult when you find yourself belonging in a dinner club with other couple friends, am I right? My husband and I are part of a dinner club with four other couples and we take turns every month hosting a dinner party. The hosting couple provides all the food and drink pairings and hosts the dinner at their house. So far, we’ve had a Mardi Gras themed event and a spring-themed event. It was my turn to host this past weekend, and obviously, my theme was Vietnamese. The other couples actually volun-told me what my theme was, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter!

In planning the menu, it was a no brainer what the appetizer and main courses were going to be. Appetizers were fresh rolls and the main course was a build-your-own vermicelli bowl, with spring rolls, vermicelli noodles, fish sauce, and various veggies and accompaniments. However, I had a tough time coming up with a dessert, mainly because I have never ever made a Vietnamese dessert before. My mom very rarely makes them, so I don’t really have a favourite Vietnamese dessert. After much research and consultation with my mom, I decided to make a Vietnamese banana coconut tapioca dessert (“che chuoi”). Vietnamese cuisine have desserts called “che” that are best described as a pudding. Some of these desserts have fruit in them, some have beans (like black beans), some are served cold, some are served hot, most of tapioca in them, and they come in varying textures (some are thicker and some are quite liquid-y like a soup). This banana dessert was easy to make and it’s dairy-free, which was the deciding factor for me. This dessert can be served hot or chilled, but I prefer it chilled.

I decided to do a wine pairing with my dinner, because I love introducing friends to wines and Vietnamese food. For the fresh rolls, I paired it with the Melipal Malbec Rose (Argentina). This rose wine is crisp, light and not too sweet, and it pairs well with the pork and shrimp in the fresh rolls. For the spring rolls and vermicelli bowls, I paired it with the Stark Raving Red wine (USA). This red wine blend is smooth, slightly sweet, and doesn’t clash with the fish sauce or overpower the spring rolls. And finally, for the banana tapioca dessert, I paired it with the Dr. Loosen Riesling (Germany). I bought two bottles of each and they were completely finished off by the women! The men could care less about wine pairings and drank various beers with their food (not that we were complaining, more wine for the wives!).

You know the dinner party was so much fun because I forgot to take lots of pictures for the blog! (Blogger fail!).  I completely forgot to take pictures of the fresh rolls, and only took a few of the spring rolls, vermicelli bowls and the banana tapioca pudding. Sorry guys! Enjoy the few pictures and the banana tapioca dessert recipe below.

Vietnamese dinner wine pairings

Vietnamese dinner wine pairings

 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

5 dozen spring rolls for the party

 

Spring Roll Vermicelli Bowl

Build your own spring roll vermicelli bowl!

 

Spring Roll Vermicelli Bowl with Stark Raving Red wine

Spring Roll Vermicelli Bowl with Stark Raving Red wine

 

Vietnamese Banana Coconut Tapioca Dessert

 

Vietnamese Banana Coconut Tapioca Dessert

Vietnamese Banana Coconut Tapioca Dessert