Sunday, June 29, 2008


This week I am making vegan spicy Thai 'fish' and stir-fried cucumber with wood ear mushrooms and red chili. They are served with jasmine brown rice. This is a rather long blog but I presented 2 recipes. So I hope it is worthwhile to read them.

About the Spicy Thai 'Fish' dish:

I bought the vegan fish frozen from an Asian market. It is made with soy bean curd and seaweed. I actually can make it at home from scratch with yuba and seaweed. But that's another blog, I think. It is also easier to buy since it is readily available here, in my area.

The 'fish' is browned on cast iron frying pan with a little bit of oil, on both sides. The seaweed will become crispy. Toasted and crispy seaweed is delicious, in my opinion. But I love 'sea' flavored dish so this is a treat for me.

The other ingredients are: Thai basil (known also as Cinnamon Basil), chopped garlic, chopped chili such as jalapeno or serrano, diced red and yellow/orange bell pepper.

I made this recipe many times. I received this recipe from my friend Yongkie years ago and have modified it many times by reducing the sugar content. I finally use agave nectar in my cooking.

I also use special Asian soy sauces for a replacement of fish sauce or oyster sauce. When I mention light soy sauce or a replacement of fish sauce, I use this soy sauce brand: Healthy Boy Soy Sauce with Mushrooms. It is not easy to find but I believe that this is important in Thai or Vietnamese cooking which uses fish sauce heavily. As a vegan, I need to find a replacement of fish sauce as closely as possible. Bragg's Liquid Amino can also be used as a replacement of fish sauce. It has that natural brew flavoring. However, I still prefer the Thai mushroom soy sauce. I go as far as L.A. to visit Thai markets to get this brand. I really take my Thai/Vietnamese cooking seriously, I think. Please don't use Tamari or Japanese soy sauce because it will not taste the same. If you can't find the mushroom flavored soy sauce you can surely find Bragg's Liquid Amino in your area. Or, perhaps, you can buy them on-line (click the links).

I also use dark mushroom soy sauce in my Asian cooking. I love this brand: Pearl River Bridge Mushroom Flavoured Superior Dark Soy Sauce. I use this dark soy sauce in my Asian dishes. This is not Ketjap Manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce) which is used for another type of cooking in my kitchen.

This Thai 'fish' recipe is very simple when you have all of these ingredients on hand. I am trying to grow my own Thai basil or cinnamon basil in pots. Now, my plants haven't matured yet ( see picture). The leaves are still so small. I still rely on Asian market to get my cinnamon basils. Hopefully, in another month, I can enjoy this herb and cook more vegan Thai or Vietnamese dishes.

Spicy Vegan Thai 'Fish' serve 4-6

1 Vegan Thai 'fish' (buy frozen), pan fry until crispy and toasty, set aside in a warm oven

canola oil for pan frying and stir frying
1.5 cups Thai/Cinnamon Basil (leaves only)
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 large yellow/orange bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoon garlic, chopped finely
2 Tablespoon red or green jalapeno, seeds removed (reduced amount accordingly for less spicy)

Sauce Mixture: (combine in a small bowl)
3 Tablespoons light soy sauce or fish sauce replacement (see above)
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce (see above)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1.5 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons agave nectar (3 Tablespoon if you like it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of oil in a cast iron frying pan and pan fry 'fish' both sides until crispy and toasty. Set aside in a serving platter in a warm oven.
  2. Heat wok until very hot. Add 1 - 2 teaspoons oil, add garlic, stir fry for 3o seconds, then, add red and yellow bell pepper, stir fry for a minute.
  3. Add Thai basil, stir fry until basil leaves are wilted and soft.
  4. Add sauce mixture, stir, and let it become hot and boiling.
  5. Immediately, pour over warmed and ready 'fish'
  6. Serve immediately

About the Cucumber Stir Fry with Wood ear mushrooms and Chili:

Stir-fried CUCUMBER, you asked? Yes! I watched Kylie Kwong's cooking show on TV one day and she was preparing stir fried cucumber. I thought it was pretty interesting and thought that Iwould like to give it a try. I had to reduce the amount of ginger since DH doesn't like ginger that much. I also veganized the dish with Vegetarian Mushroom Flavored Stir-Fry sauce instead of oyster sauce.

The trick to stir fry cucumber is to act quickly after cucumbers are added. If sauces are added and combined quickly, then, immediately remove wok from the heat, I think, you'll find that the cucumber is still crispy. You'll also need to serve the dish immediately.

This dish is unusual because it needs fresh wood ear mushrooms. This kind of mushrooms grow on trees and looks like an ear. That's why it is called wood ear. The use of this kind of mushroom is very common in Asian dishes. They sell dried ones in Asian markets that you can soak in warm water to re-hydrate them but I prefer the fresh ones. The fresh ones cook very quickly. If you can't find this kind of mushrooms you can substitute with other kind of mushrooms but you'll need to stir fry them before hand and set aside. Then, when you add the cucumbers into the wok, you can add the cooked mushrooms at the same time. Other wise, the cucumber will be too soft to wait for the mushrooms to be soft and cooked.

Below are the ingredients: cucumbers, finely sliced garlic, julienned green onions, sliced red jalapeno (fresh red chili), diced wood ear mushrooms, and julienned ginger.

Stir-fried Cucumber, Wood Ear Mushrooms, and Chili serve 6-8Adapted from Kylie Kwong's recipe

2 large cucumber, peeled
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/3 cup ginger, julienne finely
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
5 green onions, trimmed , and cut julienne into 3-inches long
8 oz. fresh wood ear mushrooms, cut in bite pieces
1 -2 large fresh red chili (red jalapeno), sliced diagonally

1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
2 Tablespoons Vegetarian Mushroom Flavored Stir-Fry Sauce
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon sesame oil for drizzling before serving

  1. Cut cucumbers in half length ways and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut in half width ways, place halves cut-side down on a chopping board and slice on the diagonal (julienne) into 3-inch pieces.
  2. Heat work until very hot. Add peanut oil and let it heat up before adding garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 10 seconds. Add cucumber, wood ear mushrooms, red chili, and green onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  3. Quickly add wine or sherry, mushroom flavored sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and agave nectar.
  4. Combine quickly for about a minute until all ingredients are hot. Take it off from heat.
  5. Lastly drizzle with sesame oil before serving. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I have been so guilty of not using more tempeh in my cooking. After all I am an Indonesian girl , born in Java, and Indonesia is the birthplace of tempeh. So here it is, my stir fried gingered tempeh with organic red spinach, shiitake, and yellow bell pepper. This dish is Asian, I think, because of the ginger, tempeh, tamari and rice vinegar. I created this dish 'out of the blue' when I was so busy with my overly active Toastmasters clubs and needed to cook something easy and fast.

I found this beautiful organic red spinach at Mother's market. It is so delicious that I went back the next week for more. It tastes just like regular spinach except that it has red stems. If you can't find red spinach, swiss chard, or kale will do.

I also found a great tempeh product, Tofurky brand, that is not bitter. Therefore, I don't need to steam the tempeh first (Indonesians never steam tempeh before use. Maybe, because we always get them fresh?). Below is a picture of marinated tempeh, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, and diced yellow pepper, the main ingredients of this dish.

Then, I added shiitake mushrooms at the last minute. Remember, this is not a 'planned' recipe. The tempeh marinade was also an 'idea' that came out of my brain after I made this Herb Crusted Tofu from Everydaydish. After I made the delicious tofu dish, I had a left over marinade that I didn't want to throw away. I dumped in tempeh into the marinade (tamari, marsala, and water). Isn't that super easy?

I think this dish was very satisfying and yummy. I served it on top of a bed of brown jasmine rice.

Gingered Tempeh with Red Spinach, Yellow Pepper, and Shiitake Mushrooms
Serve 6-8

8- 10 oz. tempeh
2 bunches of red spinach (about 1.5 - 2 lbs.)
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
10 shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dried), sliced
Note: if using dried, soak in warm water for 30 minutes
4 cloves garlic, chop finely
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped finely
3 Tbsp. Tamari
2-3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup Tamari
1/2 cup Marsala wine or white wine
enough water to cover the tempeh to marinade

drizzles of roasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
1/2 Tbsp. Korean red pepper (optional)

  1. Marinade tempeh for 1 - 4 hours (or leave overnight in the fridge).
  2. Drain tempeh and cut in 1/2-inch cubes.
  3. Cut and clean red spinach by washing them in a big bowl of water. Drain but don't pad dry. Set aside in a bowl.
  4. Heat olive oil in wok or large frying pan. Add garlic and ginger. Saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.
  6. Add shiitake mushrooms and tempeh. Saute until tempeh is brown. Add water to prevent sticking. Don't add too much water since there are water in the spinach.
  7. Add red spinach in batches (3 or 4 batches). After each batch, stir over and under until spinach is wilted. Water/juice will come out of the spinach which will create sauce for this dish.
  8. After all batches are added, add tamari and rice vinegar( add 2 tbsp. first and taste. Then, add another tablespoon if necessary).
  9. Add freshly ground black pepper at the end and stir. I don't think it is necessary to add salt but you can add salt to taste.
  10. Pile jasmine brown rice on a plate and top with the spinach mixture. Drizzle with sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds, and optional Korean red pepper.


Sunday, June 08, 2008


I loved seafood before I became a vegetarian because I grew up on an island surrounded by the sea. Seafood was a major part of our meals in my growing up days. I figured out that, now, after I became a vegetarian, what I missed is the 'sea' flavor instead of the seafood. I also found out that I can satisfy it with eating seaweed. Some vegans do not like seaweed at all but I do. It's good for me because seaweed has a lot of minerals and vitamin B-12, I was told.

Below is my recipe of my favorite Italian soup(pictured above): Cioppino (seafood Italian stew). At first, I got a recipe from Bryanna but I have modified it to satisfy my own 'sea' cravings that the recipe has become my own because it is more 'seafoody' than the original recipe. There are many different styles of this stew, depending on the regions of Italy, but I like the one made with fresh tomatoes (not very tomatoey).

The main ingredients of my vegan cioppino are vegan fish, vegan scallops, and vegan oysters. I bought the 'fish' from Chinese market (frozen). I made my own vegan seitan scallops and oysters. The latest newsletter from Bryanna featured a recipe of homemade vegan seitan scallops. Hooray! Finally, a recipe of seitan 'seafood'! I converted her recipe by adding fresh wakame to make seitan 'oysters.' These have lots of 'sea' flavors due to the fresh wakame in them. Pictured below are: store-bought vegan fish, homemade vegan oysters, and homemade vegan scallops. The dark green specks in them are chopped wakame and kelp granules.


1 onions, chopped small
1 cup celery rib, chopped small
1 cup carrot, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. dry red chili pepper flakes

4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

2/3 c. chopped flat-leafed parsley

2 tbsp.. extra-virgin olive oil

8 dry shiitake mushrooms soaked in 3 cups warm/boiling water (you may add the soaked shiitake mushrooms into the soup, chopped, if you want)

2 c. mushroom soaking water above or dilute 2 cup water with 1.5 Tbsp. Pistol River Porcini mushroom powder

1 1/2 cup dry white wine, optional or more broth above

a bay leaf
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dry basil flakes
1 tsp. kelp granules
1 - 4X6 inches kombu (Japanese seaweed)
1 tsp. salt or to taste
1/8 -1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

a heaping 1 T. light miso


2 1/2 cups combination of vegan fish, seitan scallops, and seitan oyster, chopped in small pieces (I have made this soup with store-bought vegan fish and vegan shrimps, another option)

1Saute 'seafood' and chopped shiitake (if using) in 1 tbsp. olive oil until brown. Set aside.
Then, sautee with 1 tbsp. olive oil: onions, dry chili pepper flakes, garlic, celery, and carrots until the onions are soft and translucent.
2Add chopped tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft and disintegrated.
3Add wine or broth, basil, and bay leave. Cook on high heat 5 minutes.
4Now add more broth(2 cups), with the large piece of kombu seaweed and kelp granules. Cook about 25 minutes. Remove kombu.
5Add the sauteed 'seafood' and shiitake back in. Add more broth, if necessary. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
6Add salt and pepper to taste.
7Add light miso, stir until dissolve. Finally, add chopped flat leaf parsley and take it off from heat.

Ladle into bowls and serve with garlic bread or whole wheat baguette or sourdough baquette.

Below is a picture of another 'seafood' meal that is featured in Bryanna's latest newsletter: Fried Seitan 'Scallops' (and 'Oysters') with Lemon-Garlic 'Butter' Sauce. Unfortunately, Bryanna stopped her newsletters production although you may be able to order her previous versions of these wonderful newsletters soon. I served the delicious 'seafood' morsels with Roasted Baby Yukon Potatoes with olive oil, garlic and rosemary and steamed fresh asparagus. You see, we eat yummy vegan meals in our household and aren't missing out delicious 'sea' flavored meals at all.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sin-Dawgs - Yummy, Gooey, and Cinnamony!

What prompted me to blog Sin-Dawgs is my recent purchase of a new mixer: Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine, 800 watts. YES, I finally got the top-of-the-line mixer: the BMW of mixers. My older Kitchen Aid Heavy Duty mixer did not satisfy my needs anymore. I sold it at craigslist. With the proceed of that sale, I happily ordered my dream machine, a Bosch mixer with a 6-quarts bowl, from Julie at Market.

While I was shopping for the mixer, I reviewed a few new Cooking Shows at and encountered Sin-Dawgs. Gosh, what's that? You really need to view this video, I recommend it, because it's a blast. A guy with big muscles and a pony tail demonstrated how to make his creation he called it: Sin-Dawgs. The scene of a guy who looks like a biker, cooking in Julie's kitchen, is very rare but amusing. :-)

This guy is Dave Dahl from Dave's Killer Bread. Apparently, he sells bread at Portland (Oregon)Farmers Market and other places in Oregon. Golly, that's far away from where I live but yet his recipe is so intriguing that I can't help to try to make Sin-Dawgs at home with my new mixer. I want to know what I missed for not being able to visit Dave's booth in Portland's Farmers Market. I thank Dave for sharing his recipe to all of us who live far away from Portland, OR. You can visit his website and blog to get to know Dave because he has an amazing story. You can get his recipe at, here. Don't miss the video before you try making it! BTW, he is also a wonderful musician and you can listen to his music in this video and his site. The instructions to make this bread are pretty clear. In this video, he used the same mixer I bought.

Sin-Dawg is apparently a VERY cinnamony loaf and that's how it got its name. My house was full of cinnamony goood fragrants while these loaves were baking. The bread is surprisingly soft considering it was made with all whole wheat flour. The filling is yummy, gooey, and cinnamony.

I cut about an inch of it, just to try it, and then, cut some more to eat more. It was SINfully gooood! It was especially delicious when it was still warm. You really have to like cinnamon to appreciate Dave's creation. The smells of cinnamon trigerred my childhood memory growing up with spices in Indonesia: the home of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, etc.; therefore, I LOVE cinnamon. I used the Indonesian Korintje Cassia Cinnamon (Grade A) that I bought from Penzey's.

DH tried it too and said 'Hhmmmm...I have never eaten anything like this before!' 'Well, do you like it?', I asked. 'Yeah, it's real good, the fact that it's great with beer, that's pretty good' he said with a smile(at that time, he was drinking a bottle of non-alcoholic beer). Then, he added comments that the DAWGS are pretty big to eat for one person (a recipe makes 3 big loaves). He suggested that I made 'Sin-Puppies' next time. Not a bad idea! I can make small dawgs and eat one for breakfast per day. Sin-Puppies, Dave, how about Sin-Puppies?

Now, about my new mixer, I absolutely LOVE it. It's like driving a new BMW. I have been dreaming of owning it since 2004 when I went to Denman Island attending vegan cooking vacation with Bryanna. That's the first time I saw a Bosch mixer. At that time, I still owned a Kitchen Aids mixer which I found out later on that it was not strong enough to make seitans and breads. Bosch IS a better tool for this job.