Thursday, November 26, 2009

Viva Las Vegan

We went to Las Vegas, Nevada for a few days to take a short vacation and also to take advantage of what this entertainment capital of the world offers during the economic downtime. Hotels and casinos in Las Vegas are hurting and offer a lot of cheap rooms from Sundays through Thursdays. Much more than they use to be. You can get 70% discount. No kidding! We don't gamble so we were just goofing off for a few days. I am blogging regarding what we found in terms of vegan meals. You can also check these blogs and directories: Vegas Vegan, Vegas Vegetarian, Super Vegan, Yelp, and happycow.

They say that 'What happened in Vegas Stays in Vegas.' Not! I have the NEED to share, especially with vegans. What I found in term of vegan goodies that worth to try(to us) are : 1. Ronald's Donuts 2. Authentic Japanese restaurant with a separate vegetarian menu: Miko's Izakaya, and 3. Red Velvet Cafe.

Let's start with no. 1: Ronald's Donuts. This is not a healthy choice but it is not that we eat donuts everyday. The last time I remember eating donuts were years before(maybe 13 years ago) since most donuts sold commercially contain eggs. As you can see in my picture above, the mouth watering chocolate-glazed-donut with soy custard filling above is VEGAN. We went to and read all the great reviews. These vegan donuts are really out of this world: they are soft, squishy, melt in your mouth, and not too sweet. The BEST vegan donuts I ever tasted.

The picture below is a picture of donuts sold in Ronald's that we brought home. The donuts shop is not much(hole-in-the-wall) and owned by a Chinese couple. You'll have to drive to it (in China town area) since it is not on the strip. We bought the donuts to-go and consumed them in other coffee shop (I don't really like Ronald's coffee).

Other than the chocolate-glazed- donut with soy custard filling, I love the jelly-filled and maple glazed ones. There are trays and trays of vegan donuts available to choose from. The apple fritter one was too sweet for me.

Enough of donuts! That's what DH said after 3 days of donuts consuming. Let's talk about no. 2: Miko's Izakaya. Izakaya means a place to have snacks or meals after work (such as a cafe). I found this authentic Japanese restaurant with a separate vegetarian menu. It's not on the strip and you'll need a car to drive a few miles down Las Vegas Blvd. but it was well worth it. Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera. The restaurant was a mom-and-pop restaurant owned by a Japanese couple. What was so special was that it was owned by Japanese. Most sushi and Japanese restaurants nowadays are owned by Koreans so the food is Koreanized with NO vegetarian options. Not at Miko's Izakaya! Miko and Greg are Japanese and their chefs are too. You'll find authentic vegan Japanese dishes at their restaurant. They also know what vegan means. Their tempura batter(no egg) was prepared after you ordered them. So it may take a while but it was fresh, crispy, and not oily. We went more than once to this restaurant and ordered vegetable tempura each time. I also ordered vegan Sukiyaki. It was out of this world! It was healthy, steaming hot (served in a flat hot crock), and light.

The last one that we found is Red Velvet Cafe. This place is a few miles from the strip so again, you'll need a car. It has great reviews in but we found it just an ordinary, nothing is special in terms of meals (maybe my gourmet expectation is higher). Maybe we need to try them several times before we can find what we like. However, their Vegan Red Velvet Cake was really good. We were served a warm out of the oven red velvet cake with vegan creamy frosting and a fresh strawberry on top. The cake was moist and soft (not bread like). Yum!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mock "Shrimp" Curry and Brussels Sprouts favorite!

I tried this mock 'shrimp' curry recipe from Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen. It was delicious! Bryanna was so brilliant by adding ground almonds to the curry with 'tofu creme' sauce (instead of coconut milk). I think the ground almonds thickened this vegan curry and added the richness to it. There is no need to add coconut milk to fatten it up the curry too much. Almonds are good for you, too!

Since I have other ingredients on-hand that I need to get rid of such as a potato, a chunk of sweet potato, a cup of sliced mushrooms, and brussel sprouts, I added 1 cup each of these ingredients on top of the mock 'shrimp.' I doubled the sauce (everything else in that recipe but the shrimp) so I have enough sauce to coat the other ingredients.

The ingredients were sauteed and coated with all the spices before the 'tofu creme' was added. I used the Maharajah Curry spice powder from Penzeys Spice (a good quality curry powder that is not hot and it is not bitter).

This curry was so delicious on top of basmati rice.

It's Brussels sprouts season now! I have seen brussels sprouts on stalks in supermarkets and it's cheap. The sale price is $2.99 for the whole 25-inches stalks of sprouts. I love them!

This is my favorite quick, easy, and delicious way to prepare it:

Remove sprouts from stalks and cut in halves. Caramelize them in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add some water to steam fry them while covering the pot tightly. The water will evaporate, then, add some more water. Steam fry them for 5 - 10 minutes by adding more and more water when it evaporated. Test the tenderness. Immediately, add 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance while they were still warm. Stir and serve!

I like them roasted and browned when caramelizing them. It was sort of pan roasting them. I used my Swiss Diamond Covered Casserole Pan (best non-stick cookware recommended by Bryanna) to caramelize the sprouts. I bought this cookware from and it turned out that it is the genuine one. I read that there are fake ones(it may contain teflon) so be careful when you order on-line. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this non-stick cookware. It is durable, can withstand high heat, easy to clean, and it is non-teflon.

My favorite brussels sprouts dish is a great companion of any dish. I'll keep buying sprouts as long as it is in season.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Kitchen CLOSED for remodeling! Stay tune for a new remodeled kitchen!

Hello all,

I have not been blogging since I have been PACKING for the last 2 months, little by little. Our kitchen will be remodeled COMPLETELY! The project starts today(Nov. 9). It will be demolished completely! The old cabinets will be thrown away, floors will be stripped, and a wall will be added. It is a huge project and I have been dreaming to have a new kitchen since we moved to our house 16.5 years ago.

As a gourmet cook who prepares many different kind of dishes from many culture, you can imagine how much spices and ingredients I have. I have a LOT! I also have a lot of small appliances. Most of them have been boxed now but I still can access some of them.

Here is a picture of our old kitchen. I have been cooking in it for 16.5 years and it is getting worse. If you lean on the middle part of the cabinet door, it will collapse and go through. I have been patching them with small nails.

This kitchen is also dark and we will pick a lighter color of cabinets and floor.

There is a door to a formal dining room that will be taken out and closed with a wall. It will be covered with more cabinets for more space. Yay!

A new bar will be added at the end of this cabinet. So I will have more cabinets and storage space underneath the bar. Yay! The ceiling will also be raised another 6-8 inches. Another yay!

Demolition begins. We hired this done and PLBC Construction is doing it. He is well qualified, clean worker, and offers reasonable pricing.

The sample cabinet on the floor (lighter color) was the one we chose. Then, we have to choose a new granite for the counter top (sample board is next to the cabinet sample). Decisions, decisions!

Now, I am cooking in our garage. This is my temporary kitchen in a 2-car garage.

Look all those spices and ingredients I have. They are all piled in temporary boxes.

I have a butane burner to cook with. Pots and pans are piled in a box below. Tupperware and plastic ware is piled in another box, also below. But all my tools are available on hand, on the table.

A roll up chopping table is also handy. A small microwave is sitting in the background. Also, more boxes with staples ingredients, spices, seitan flour, etc. are organized. They are all in accessible boxes for my use.

I also have a temporary appliances table with food processor, toaster oven, slow cooker, rice cooker, panini grill, waffle iron, and electric skillet that are accessiblewhen it is needed. I will be cooking with those, too. I don't have a large oven so I can't bake cakes, casseroles, or bread.

We also have a refridgerator and a laundry sink installed in the garage. This is how and where we wash our dishes and cookware.

This is where we eat, our temporary dining table in the garage. Next to a stepping ladder...he he.... It can be cold in the morning so we have to eat quickly before our food becomes cold. What do you think? This is my first time going through remodeling so it is an experience.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Vegan Birthday Celebration at Thuyen Vien

Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated it at a vegan Vietnamese restaurant, Thuyen Vien(translated to 'meditation park' in English). When DH asked me of which vegan restaurant would I want to go for my birthday(his treat), he was surprised that I selected Thuyen Vien. I didn't select a fancy vegan restaurant with expensive decor, professional looking servers serving food on white gourmet plates, silver utensils, cloth napkin, and fancy wine glasses. I selected a tiny restaurant owned by a simple but very nice Buddhist Vietnamese family. What Thuyen Vien has over other fancy vegan restaurants are FLAVORS. As far as I am concern, flavors won over luxury.

After visiting this restaurant a few times, I got to know the husband and wive owners Si ('see') and Loan (and their daughter). Both work as a team of excellent cooks. They have become our friends after many times we talk about vegan food and cooking. Si always wants to create dishes that have all flavors combined and balanced in one dish: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and savory. Their food is definitely full of love and umami. Both owners love to please their customers and talk to them. That's just what I like in a restaurant rather than to eat, pay, and go. You really can feel their love in their dishes. For example, they got to know how I like spicy food so they add more spicyness onto my dish (even some dishes that don't need to be spicy). The time I like to come is on week nights instead of their crowded weekends because then I'll have a chance to talk to them. Most of their customers have become their friends. Sometimes Si also like to recommend certain dishes to customers. I think by doing that he is trying to know what they like so he can please them.

The picture above is their famous Garlic Soy Chicken. Si has replaced their soy chicken to be vegan soy chicken after listening to their vegan customers. This dish is their customers' favorite. I can understand why. In 2007, their vegan Phở(traditional Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) was voted as the Best Phở in the entire Orange County. I am talking about VEGAN Phở with soy beef against all the ones with the real beef in the entire county. That's awesome!

Our favorite appetizer is Fried Tofu with special sauce(in the small bowl) and rau răm (Vietnamese coriander). The fried tofu is not just any ordinary fried tofu. It is crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside(Si has a special technique to make it that way). To eat this, the fried tofu is dipped into the special sauce. Then, put it altogether in your mouth with the fresh lemony coriander leaf. Your tongue will be surprised of the flavors combination. Although we are friends, Si kept the special sauce ingredients as his secrets. Darn! He just said that there is some lime juice in it. Well, yeah, I can taste that. This sauce is soo goood. DH said he can put it on just about everything he wants to eat.

DH loves their sushi. Each sushi is topped with fresh tofu, a slice of radish, and a dot of spicy sauce. The presentation is also very nice and appetizing. There is something crunchy inside the sushi and we were told that it is crispy fried banana flower/blossom (Thai and Vietnamese use it as a cooking ingredients). Don't be surprised, it is good.

This next appetizer is a new item, called Seaweed Xao Lan. Si has been asking me to try this dish since I blogged about Vietnamese Green Mango Salad with black sesame crackers (inspired by this restaurant) last June. I think he also knows I like curry and coconut. This dish reminds me of a seafood curry. The ingredients are seaweed, tofu, king mushrooms, coconut milk, curry paste, and other spices and herbs. It is eaten on top of black sesame rice crackers. People may not like the rice crackers but I do since Indonesians eat this kind of crackers we called Krupuk. It's like American potato chips. Krupuk is great with curry on top rather than by itself. Just like this one, I used the black sesame crackers (vegan krupuk) to scoop each bite of the Seaweed Xao Lan. That's the way to eat it. The cracker may not be that great by itself. He made it a bit more spicy customizing to my taste. I LOVED it and ate the whole plate (DH rather devoured the sushi).

Other than the garlic soy chicken , we also ordered Tofu Thuyen Vien accompanied by brown rice. This special tofu (again, he won't share the secret) was rolled inside a seaweed, steamed, and then sliced and deep fried before it was thrown into the wok as a stir fry (stir fried with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and sprinkled with lots of black pepper). It is then served on a bed of lettuce and sprinkled with chopped Asian celery. I bet the tofu is done sort of like making a veggie fish, I think.

Finally, I'll get the credit for this one: my own birthday cake. I made Vegan Coconut Cloud Cake from More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts by Fran Costigan. I tell you: so far this cookbook has not failed yet. Every thing I made from it turned out delicioso, including this cake.

The recipe of the Coconut Cloud Layer Cake is on page 142 and the Island Coconut Cream Filling and Frosting is on page 145.

I decided to bring the whole cake with us to the restaurant and shared it with all the lucky customers who happened to be there while we were there last night and also to share it with Si and family. It was real yummy. The cake was moist and coconut-ty. I love the toasted coconut sprinkled on the cake.

Si said that I made a good vegan cream for a frosting. it my turn not to tell him my secrets? I said to him that it's tofu, the frosting is made of tofu (regular firm tofu), agar, and coconut milk, not margarine or shortening or butter. Well, I guess, if he reads this blog, it's not a secret anymore. The secrets are all in Fran's cookbook.

It was really my happy night. As I was offering cakes to other customers and talking to them about the great dishes this restaurant have, I got invited by a lady customer who is a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, a private clubhouse for magicians and artists. She gave me an invitation to come and visit (visitors have to be invited by members). I thought that it was a great birthday gift for me and we'll seek this opportunity very soon.

On top of that, Si took out his harmonica to accompany all others that sang 'Happy Birthday' to me. While we were eating cake and drinking tea, he also serenaded all of us with his harmonica, a beautiful summer song. This is definitely a night to remember. Thanks to all who shared it with me!

Thuyen Vien
11080 Magnolia St (on Katella and Magnolia)
Garden Grove, CA 92842
(714) 638-8189
Closed on Tuesdays

Monday, September 07, 2009

Vegan Coconut Turnover, Barbados style

Carribean Vegan contacted me and asked if I wanted to be her tester of this recipe. Check out her blog! Unfortunately that weekend she contacted me, I was very busy at work and had to work overtime. This weekend I was able to do it. These are yummy turnovers. You know me, I love anything coconutty since I grew up eating coconut anything.

I used 2 kinds of coconut filling just to see the difference. The one on the left side, the filling is finely grated coconut was made of frozen-fresh grated coconut. I bought it in an Indian store near me. The one on the right side, the filling was Baker's sweetened grated coconut mixed with brown sugar. We prefer the freshly grated coconut, of course, but for a short cut and depends on availability the Baker's coconut should work, too. Below is my picture of the turnovers just came out of the oven.

These turnovers are great served with tea or coffee. It's definitely a delicious snack. I can't wait for her cookbook.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Smoked Tofu and Mango Summer/Salad Rolls

My first encounter with the recipe of this yummy Vietnamese-style Summer/Salad Rolls or goi cuon (not the fried ones called cha gio which is also called spring rolls) was at Bryanna's Vegan Cooking Class in 2004. I fell in love with it. The way she combined the flavors of ripe mango, marinated-and-baked tofu, carrots, basil leaves, cucumber, lettuce, vermicelli noodles, and peanut sauce is BRILLIANT! For the last 5 years, I lost count how many times I made this dish. I brought the summer/salad rolls to potlucks too. Every time it never fails to be the first dish gobbled up by my non-vegan or vegan friends attending the potlucks.

Recently, I went to a poolside vegan potluck hosted by Orange County Veggie Meetup group and brought these rolls. Again, they were gone in a matter of minutes. I decided to blog it and share my version with the world.

Like any recipe, especially the one that I use many times, this recipe went through many iterations of changes. Every time I made it, I may use slightly different ingredients. Thus it is not really the same as the original recipe. I invite you to be creative also and use ingredients that you like. However, I think the combination of the baked or smoked tofu and ripe mango is a 'must have'.

I sometimes use a store-bought-baked-and-marinated tofu for a short cut. There are a few vegan baked tofu brands with Thai or Teriyaki flavors (those are the best for these rolls) that are ready to eat. This is just perfect if you don't mind the cost and that you'll like to save time. You can also buy store-bought Teriyaki sauce to use for the marinade and then bake the tofu at home. I have done these before too when I am lazy or really busy. I usually make my own marinade, add liquid smoke to it, and bake the tofu. Don't be nervous about using liquid smoke! It is natural and vegan. You can read this blog about it. Apparently, liquid smoke is just smoke and water but adding a few drops of this liquid to your tofu marinade will make your tofu so flavorful and smoky. I provide my version of smoked-marinated-baked tofu below.

About the rice paper or banh trang, for those who are not familiar with Vietnamese rice paper, I recommend this blog about selecting rice paper. I prefer the Red Rose brand but I have also used the Three Ladies brand. For beginners, I definitely recommend these brands. Here is a blog about How to Make Rice Paper. I believe that's the traditional way. The ones that are sold in stores are probably industrialized with machines in factories. Here is also a blog for a Step by step how to roll these spring/summer/salad rolls or goi cuon (not a vegetarian recipe). I also provide the step by step pictures below. I hope with these you'll have an idea how it is done.

Vegan Smoked Tofu and Mango Summer/SaladRolls
Serve 16

Summer/Salad Rolls Ingredients:
16 Vietnamese rice papers
2 large ripe mango, peeled and cut in 4" by 1/2" thick
1 medium head of green lettuce, shredded thinly
1 English cucumber, cut in 4" by 1/2 " thick
2 cups julienne cut peeled carrots marinated with:
2 Tbsp. vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp vegan sugar
1 lb baked-and-marinated tofu or smoked tofu, cut in 4" by 1/2" thick
1 cup basil leaves, separate leaves from stems
Note: I like to use the Thai Basil type but I have used the Italian Sweet Basil too. Whatever is available in your area will be fine.
Optional: 2-3 cups cooked rice vermicelli or thin soba noodles

Clockwise from upper left hand corner: ripe mango, cucumbers, basil leaves, julienned-and-marinated carrots, smoked-baked tofu, and shredded green lettuce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1/3 cup hot water
4 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp agave nectar
2 Tbsp vinegar or fresh lime juice
1 Tsp sesame oil
1 Tsp Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha
2 Tbsp chopped green onion

  1. Marinade the julienne cut peeled carrots with the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Combine and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The carrots will be limp and seasoned or pickled. Then drain them thoroughly (you can do this 1 day ahead if you like).
  2. To make the peanut dipping sauce, combine hot water and peanut butter until it is well mixed and the peanut butter is melted and thinner. Then, add the rest of the peanut dipping sauce ingredients, set aside (you can to this 1 day ahead if you like).
  3. Prepare a large bowl of warm water (about 120F), a damp and clean kitchen towel(wet a clean kitchen towel and squeezed the water out), a large plate or cutting board. Set all the ingredients of the Summer/Salad rolls around you so that it is within reach. BTW, I learned this method at Bryanna's vegan cooking school in 2004.
  4. Dip a rice paper in the bowl of warm water and circle it around to make sure it is all wet and covered with water.
  5. Quickly put the rice paper on the damp kitchen towel. Let the water soaks through the paper. I usually count about 30 seconds before I put the ingredients on it and start rolling.
  6. Pile the ingredients on the wet rice paper. At this time the paper will be limp and pliable but it should not tear. If you wait too long the rice paper will be too soft and easily torn. You'll have to work QUICKLY.

  7. Start rolling like making burrito. I like to put the basil leave on the outside layer of the roll to make it prettier. I usually put the leave right side down. You can put 1 leave or 2 to 3 leaves in a row. You'll see the result later. It's nice!
  8. Then, continue wrapping it like burrito. Again, work QUICKLY!
  9. Roll and tada! Here is the final result and you'll see the leave behind the transparent rice paper. It's an art!
  10. Repeat steps 4 to 9, 15 times. It looks hard but with practice it will become easier and easier each time. If the rice paper is torn or stuck together, you can throw it away and start all over again. It's cheap, you know. Believe me, I have done that and been there before but I am persistent and determined to tackle this skill. I had practiced many times and ate many smoked tofu and mango goi cuons which is not too bad of an experience. DH loves it too that I practiced a lot.
  11. Then, you can eat the roll whole with the peanut dipping sauce or cut it in a diagonal like the picture below.

If you are allergic to peanut, I have a peanut-free dipping sauce for it. Check out the salad dressing in my blog titled Vietnamese Green Mango Salad. This dressing is great for a dipping sauce for this salad roll.

Regarding the smoked-baked-marinated tofu, you may want to check on Bryanna's blog regarding A Nifty Gadget for Pressing Tofu. This kind of tofu is great for this recipe. I don't have this nifty gadget myself but I usually buy an extra firm tofu. Bryanna suggesteds 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part maple syrup, and a little sesame oil for the marinade. I added 1 part of water, 1 tsp liquid smoke, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder for the smoked tofu marinade sauce. Make sure that all the tofu slices are covered in the marinade sauce and let them submerged in the marinade for at least 4 hours. Then, you can bake them in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes or pan fry them in a skillet. Basically, you can create your own version of the marinade sauce.

These rolls are to be eaten within a day (we have no problems with that). They are not good to be refrigerated and eaten the next day(have done that, too).

Enjoy these summer rolls(goi cuons) this summer!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Grilled Vegan Caesar Salad

What??? Yes, you read it right! This vegan Caesar salad contains grilled Romaine lettuce. I learned this from a Create PBS TV show featuring Steven Raichlen, Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen. So, why would a person who doesn't eat meat watch a bbq show? Beats me! I just like to watch cooking show, I guess. I thought that it is summer bbqueing time again so why not? Our weather is perfect for grilling right now. I was rewarded by watching him making grilled Caesar salad. I thought what an odd dish! My first response was I GOT TO TRY IT! before I judge it no good.

So I did and I was surprised that I LIKE IT! I like it that I made it twice. Something about the smokey grilled romaine lettuce and baguette added savory flavor to the salad. I also veganized the recipe. I followed his method of grilling the Romaine lettuce and oiled baguette. Then, I used vegan Caesar salad dressing(which has no anchovies in it) and soy Parmesan. It is very simple if you buy your favorite vegan salad dressing and vegan soy Parmesan. You can also make your own vegan Caesar salad dressing and vegan soy Parmesan. I also added vegan soy chicken strips. You can buy your favorite soy chicken and mine is Morningstar Chik'n Strips, however, it is optional.

Grilled Vegan Caesar Salad
Serves 6

3-4 heads of Romaine lettuce, slice in halves from the roots (see picture above)
1/2 of a long French baguette, cut diagonally, 1/2-inch thick
1 or 2 fresh garlic cloves, halves
2-3 tablespoon olive oil or garlic infused olive oil.
1 pkg. vegan soy strips, optional
store bought vegan Caesar salad dressing, I like Follow Your Heart
vegan soy Parmesan, homemade or store bought
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste

Optional: 2 cups wood chips soaked in water for 1 hour

Grill with hot coals

  1. Clean lettuce by soaking them in water to remove the sands and grimes. Drain and let them dry.
  2. Prepare hot coals ( I use real wood briquettes charcoal). Add wet wood chips on the hot coal. It will start to smoke. It is optional to use the smoking wood chips.
  3. Grill romaine lettuce on hot coal. Close the lid to smoke them.

  4. Meanwhile, brush each side of the sliced baguette with raw garlic to add flavor.

  5. Then, brush each side of the sliced bread with olive oil. Or you can buy garlic infused olive oil and skip the step above. I bought the garlic oil below at Trader Joe's.

  6. Don't forget to check on the romaine lettuce. It should not be grilled too long till they are crispy. The picture below shows how I like it. Some of the leaves are not wilted and some are. Take them out of the grill and slice them with a knife into bite pieces and remove the core.

  7. Add the soy chicken and oiled sliced baguette on to the grill. Add a drizzle of oil on the soy chicken so it won't stick to the grill. I used a grill pan so they won't fall off into the coals. Watch the bread closely since it will brown quickly.

  8. Slice soy chicken in bite pieces. Serve them on top of the grilled lettuce with drizzles of vegan Caesar salad dressing, freshly ground black pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt, and soy Parmesan. Serve with the grilled bread on the side or cut the bread into bite pieces and mix them in the salad (my preference).

Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana (not far from where I live) by Chef Alex Cardini (not Caesar). You can read the history of Caesar salad here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Vegan Vietnamese Dishes

I am cooking lots of vegan Vietnamese dishes lately. Above is a picture of Vietname BBQ Noodle/Vermicelli salad. Vegan Vietnamese restaurants serve this cold noodle salad. In my area there are 6 vegetarian Vietnamese restaurants(3 are vegans): Thuyen Vien, Au Lac, Zen Vegetarian, Bodhi Tree, Bo De, and Van Hanh. I visited them often and can get ideas on how to make Vietnamese dishes. My favorite is Thuyen Vien and that's why it is listed first. I seldom go to Bo De and Van Hanh because they are my least favorites. The restaurants usually call this dish BBQ Vermicelli. This dish is a perfect meal for a hot weather since it is served in a room temperature. My recipe was posted on my other inactive blog, click here.

The ingredients that I use this time are (clockwise from top left): jicama, cucumber, carrots, Vietnamese Coriander or rau ram, bean sprouts, fresh mints, and green lettuce. All of them were sliced in thick julienne form.

This time I used buckwheat soba noodle instead of the white rice noodle or vermicelli. It is not traditional but I think soba noodle is more filling and it is more nutritious.

I also modified my salad dressing with coconut juice without added sugar. This one is my favorite brand. To see recipe of the salad dressing please my previous Vietnamese Green Mango Salad blog and scroll down to the recipe.

I have been also drinking a lot of natural coconut juice lately and bought the Amy & Brian brand. It is quite delicious when it is chilled. I have been using coconut juice for cooking lately, a new discovery. This one below is Tofu Stew with Coconut Juice from Vietnamese Fusion Vegetarian Cuisine cookbook by Chat MingKwan.

The ingredients in this stew are probably not familiar to some of you. They are lotus root, jicama, lemon grass, and coconut juice. I substituted the water chestnuts with jicama since I didn't have any water chestnuts. I also added green beans to it since I had some. It is quite delicious served with a bowl of steamed sweet rice.