side dish

Vegetarian Banh Mi

The first time I had a banh mi was in Hong Kong.  It was a very small place near my old apartment in Wanchai.  Just the thought of it brought back a lot of memories.  Most of them weren't so pleasant actually.  I was going through a transition period in life.  I honestly don't even know if the restaurant still exists.  But the most recent and also unforgettable banh mi that I've had was in London.  

This place is called Hanoi Cafe.  I still got the name card in my wallet.  It was an unexpected visit brought by my partner in crime, Anita.  Ever since then, I've always wanted to replicate something similar.  So now that I am in Hong Kong, it is much easier to gain access to some of these ingredients which I can't get in Italy.  That's also how this recipe came to light.  

My first time of making a banh mi and there is certainly the next time because it was pretty awesome.  :)  I blended both Western and Asian ingredients to make this sandwich.  Here goes my other fusion confusion addition.  

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Servings: 2 sandwiches

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

 

Ingredients: 

For the lime yogurt-mayo dressing:

4-5 tbsp yogurt

2-3 tbsp mayonnaise

1 fresh lime juice & zest

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

For olive tapenade: 

1 can black olives

1 garlic clove

1 bunch parsley

1 tbsp capers

1 red chili, seeded

extra-virgin olive oil

(blend all ingredients in a blender and season)

For the fresh coriander pesto: 

1 bunch fresh coriander

1 garlic

1 shallot

1 fresh lime juice

extra-virgin olive oil

(blend all ingredients in a blender and season)

For fillings: 

150-200g firm tofu, 1/2 inch slice 

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tsp honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

(marinate tofu with 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, 1-2 tsp honey, and a drizzle of sesame oil)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

3-4 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp brown sugar

(marinate carrot and cucumber in 3-4 tbsp rice vinegar and 1 tsp brown sugar to make these fresh pickles.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes beforehand)

4-5 tbsp olive tapenade

1-2 tbsp fresh coriander pesto

1 small baguette, sliced into two halved size sandwiches

1 small bunch fresh coriander

Instructions: 

1.  Preheat a small frying pan with olive oil on medium heat, cook the marinated tofu 2-3 minutes each side until they turn golden brown.  Heat off.  Set aside.  

2.  Start assembling the sandwiches with olive tapenade, stir-fry tofu, fresh pickles, fresh coriander pesto, and lime yogurt-mayo dressing.

3.  Garnish with some coriander before serving.  

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Vegetarian Banh Mi

Tabbouleh Quinoa Salad & A Sneak Peek of "lil sweet things"

Blogging is hard, I said it once and I'll say it again.  This is definitely not something easy that I got myself into.  In the beginning, I was just thinking to share my recipes with others especially those who live in HK.  I wanted to show that it is possible to practice an accessible and affordable vegetarian lifestyle in this ultra-densed city.  And then one thing leads to another, I am now developing vegetarian recipes and shooting for some clients on the side.  

Honestly, I'm a little embarrassed to take up such role.  That's because I've never studied photography nor culinary before.  I'm just strolling along with my personal passion and interest.  I am indeed grateful for the wonderful opportunities.  Not everyone is given such privilege to do what he/she loves and be able to get paid a little on the side.  I should embrace every chance I get and learn to improve in every aspect of this whole blogosphere as I go along.  I know it isn't easy but it's got to start somewhere, right?

This past weekend, I helped photograph a dear friend's delicious cookies and cupcakes - lil sweet things.  lil sweet things is a local online cake shop and workshop run by Lillian Leung.  Lillian was one of the co-founders who helped me launched ms food division in the early days.  She was in charge of the dessert part.  Recently, she has started her own online cake shop, catering, and cooking classes.  Her workshop is ideal for people of all ages who love pretty sweets.  I had so much fun shooting her beautiful cakes this past weekend.  I would do it again if I am given more time before the Green Monday's trip.  Oh yeah, I just got appointed to help photograph Green Monday's Milan trip next week.  I'm so excited and nervous at the same time.  I hope my photos would turn out ok.  Fingers crossed.  

So let me share some of my favorite images from last weekend's shoot and follow by this delicious and healthy tabbouleh quinoa salad I made today.  :) 

Ciao~

Those buttery cookies don't just look pretty, they taste superb, too.  

Aren't they pretty?  Red velvet n' cream cheese cupcakes

red velvet & cream cheese cupcakes made by lil sweet things

red velvet & cream cheese cupcakes made by lil sweet things

red velvet & cream cheese cupcakes made by lil sweet things

Little surprises from these piñata cookies, my niece felt in love with them instantly! 

piñata cookies made by lil sweet things 

Today's healthy lunch - tabbouleh quinoa salad 

tabbouleh quinoa salad 

Servings: 2 persons (as a side salad) or 1 person (as a meal) 

Preparation Time: 10 - 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 bowl cooked quinoa

1 bunch fresh parsley

100g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 handful roasted almonds, finely chopped

1 small cucumber, chopped into small bits

1 bowl fresh arugula

For the dressing: 

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon zest and juice

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped

Instructions: 

1) Mix the cooked quinoa, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, almonds, and parsley with dressing in a large bowl.  

2) Add arugula and a twist of fresh lemon juice before serving.  

tabbouleh quinoa salad 

tabbouleh quinoa salad 

Vegan Cuts Snack Box January 2015 Review

This is my first time being appointed as an ambassador for Vegan Cuts and here I am writing a review for their amazing January's snack box.  To tell you the truth, I was pretty nervous before because I wasn't sure what I was expecting.  I was worried about writing a review that I didn't like.  A few questions immediately came to my mind like what if I don't like those snacks?  What am I gonna say about that?  I certainly don't want to lie about it... 

I went berserk for no reasons.  The snack box was really good.  I'm not gonna hard sell it.  I'm just gonna tell you the ones that I liked the most and how I developed some easy peasy recipes to go with them.  My favorite snacks amongst all are 1) rosemary baked lentil chips and 2) organic black rice ramen (wheat & gluten free).  The lentil chips could be eaten just as it is or you could create some dippings to go with that.  I happened to have an avocado at home so I whipped up some fresh guacamole.  

As for the black rice ramen, I had it elaborated into 3 easy recipes.  This ramen is a healthier choice for those who love instant noodles.  I highly recommend it to the college students who don't have time to cook a full-blown meal during the finals.  Geesh, I wish I had that when I was a student back in the old days.  

I'm so grateful to have been chosen to write this review.  It was so much fun for me.  Thank you, Vegan Cuts.  

Vegan Cuts in brief:

  • ●  7­10 vegan snacks

  • ●  Sweet and savory: Chips, cookies, bars, chocolate, crackers, tea, and more!

  • ●  Mostly gluten­free snacks

  • ●  Mix of full and sample size products

  • ●  $19.95 a month

  • ●  Cancel anytime, though we doubt you'll ever want to

  • ●  Free shipping to the U.S.

  • ●  The Vegan Cuts Snack Box ships worldwide 

These were the goodies inside of the snack box from Vegan Cuts.

First thing I opened was the two bags of chips.  :) I also whipped up a fresh guacamole to go with them.  ProTings doesn't need dipping at all because the chips itself was pretty tasty already.  

Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients: 

1 avocado 

2-3 small cherry tomatoes, chopped into small chunks

1/2 lime juice and zest

1-2 tbsp chopped red onion

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper

1 bunch coriander, chopped

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Scoop out the flesh of an avocado.  Add red onion and garlic.  Add lime juice and season.  Mix well.  

2) Add a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle some cayenne pepper or paprika and garnish with chopped coriander before serving.  

My first attempt with the organic black rice ramen; gluten and wheat free is called "the budget ramen dish."  

Recipe for "the budget ramen dish" 

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 2 minutes

Cooking Time: 3-4 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 black rice ramen cake, cooked according to the packaging label (3 minutes)

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 egg, sunny side up

hot sauce

Instructions: 

1) To make the sauce to go with the cooked ramen, simply add sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger.  Mix well.  

2) Coat the ramen with sauce and add an egg.  Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onion.  Add a dash of hot sauce to give an extra kick of this simple dish before serving.  

The second ramen recipe is with miso soup.  

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 3-5 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 black rice ramen cake, cooked according to its packaging label (3 minutes) 

80-100g extra firm bean curd

1 small ball of cooked spinach

1 boiled egg, halved

2 buttoned mushroom, halved

80g daikon, sliced

1 handful dried seaweed

2-3 sugar snap peas

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp white miso paste

1 tbsp soy sauce

800ml vegetable stock 

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a small pot, bring the pot of vegetable stock to boil.  Add mushroom, daikon, and tofu.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Let the pot simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Add soy sauce and miso paste.  Heat off.  

2) Pour the soup into the cooked ramen.  Top with a ball of cooked spinach and a boiled egg; drizzle a little bit of sesame oil.  Garnish with sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and spring onions before serving.  

Last but not least, black rice ramen with a korean twist! 

I made my all-time favorite Momofuku's red dragon sauce to go with this ramen.  

Organic Black Rice Ramen (Wheat & Gluten Free) with shredded dried seaweed, cucumber and carrot in Momofuku's Red Dragon Sauce.  

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 black rice ramen cake, cooked according to its packaging label (3 minutes) 

1 handful shredded cucumber

1 handful shredded carrot

1 handful shredded dried seaweed

1 tsp sesame seed

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

extra-virgin olive oil

For the Momofuku's red dragon sauce:

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp ssamjang

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sherry/apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil, cook onion for 4-5 minutes under medium-low heat.  Add the cooked ramen to the pan.  Mix well with the caramelized onion.

2) To make the red dragon sauce, simply add all ingredients together and mix well.  Add a tablespoon of red dragon sauce to the ramen.  Mix well.  

3) Transfer the ramen to a dish.  Garnish with fresh cucumber, carrot, sesame seeds, spring onions, and seaweed.  Add a few extra tablespoon of red dragon sauce to complete the dish before serving.