tofu

1) Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu 2) Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

We’ve finally moved into our little apartment in Milan.  The entire place is still a mess, full of boxes waiting to be unpacked.  From the way I see it, it’s gonna take another whole month to get this home sorted.  Never knew my other half is such a hoarder.  

I’m just glad that we’ve finally got internet here so I can start my rant.  ;)  Lately, I’m a little obsessed with roasted vegetables because I’ve also got my awesome oven installed finally.  I don’t even have a fan in the kitchen yet I must have my oven first.  Those guys who installed it must’ve thought I was weird though; not to mention those awkward lost in translation moments we got there.  I kept asking if I could start using the oven right away with my broken Italian.      

So roasting vegetables has become my new forte and the best sauce to go with that, in my opinion, is the wonderfully nutty great old tahini.  I have two simplest and healthiest recipes to go with my easy tahini dressing here.  Hope you’ll like them.  Happy roasting! :D

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu - this is one delicious hearty salad 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 small bowl broccoli florets

1/2 avocado, cut into finger-sized strips

1/2 package hard tofu, cut into finger-sized strips

1 bowl fresh salad greens

1 bowl cooked soba, rinsed and drained

1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp chopped fresh spring onion

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1 small garlic, finely chopped 

2-3 tbsp sesame oil/extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for tahini dressing: 

1/2 cup tahini sauce

1/2 cup water 

1 small garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp vinegar 

1 tbsp honey

1/2 lemon juice and zest

1 tsp grated ginger

1-2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1-2 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions:

1)  Preheat the oven at 180-200ºC.  

2)  Marinate the tofu with chopped garlic and soy sauce for 10-15 minutes.

3)  To make tahini dressing, add tahini, garlic, vinegar, honey, ginger, lemon juice, tamari, sesame oil and add water to thin until smooth.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  

3)  On a baking tray, mix broccoli, avocado, tofu, dried chilli flakes, oil, and season. Roast for about 10 minutes or less.  

4)  On a large dish, assemble the salad, soba, and roasted vegetables with some toasted sesame seeds, nuts, spring onions, and tahini dressing.  Add a twist of fresh lemon before serving. 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Here are the simplest and healthiest ingredients for my second recipe: Roasted Purple Carrots & Avocado Salad

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Servings: 1-2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 lb fresh purple salad

1 avocado, cut into slices

1 lemon zest 

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 handful chopped walnuts

1/4 cup tahini dressing (recipe is above)

handful chopped fresh parsley (you can use mint and others; they are just as good)

extra-virgin olive oil/sesame oil 

On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.

Add avocado after 15 minutes of roasting the carrots.  

Instructions: 

1) Preheat the oven at 200ºC.  

2) On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.  

3) Roast for another 5-10 minutes.  I usually toss in the walnuts in the last few minutes of roasting for an extra nutty flavor.  

4) Garnish with fresh parsley, sesame seeds, tahini dressing and a drizzle of oil.  

5) Add a twist of fresh lemon juice to give the refreshness of this warm salad before serving.  

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Vegan Ma Po Tofu with Rice Noodle

Waking up to such horrific and grieving news today about the Paris attack got me utterly speechless.  Words could not portray this perplexed feeling inside me.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one.  A lot of thoughts and questions surged through my mind; leaving me in a deep sense of anxiety.  I could only use silence as my condolence.  

One thing I learned these years is to restore my well-being through food and photography.  Knowing for the fact that I’m just a minuscule fragment of today’s entire humanity, the only constructive manner I could offer is not by saying but cooking. 

Vegan Ma Po Tofu with Rice Noodle 

Servings: 1-2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 small carrot, cut into small cubes

1 bunch long green beans, cut into small bits (can substitute with frozen green peas)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped 

1 tsp fresh minced ginger

1 package 350g soft tofu 

2 tbsp Chili Bean Sauce aka Toban Djan

2 tsp corn starch

1 cup vegetable stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1-2 tbsp rice wine or white wine

1-2 tbsp fresh chopped spring onion

1 small bunch chopped coriander

3-4 tsp sesame oil

100g rice noodle aka mei fun, cooked

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat a saucepan on medium heat with a drizzle of sesame oil, cook garlic, ginger, spring onion, and shallot until oil is fragrant.  
  2. Add carrots and beans with a splash of rice wine.  After the alcohol evaporates, place a lid on and cook the vegetables on low heat 2-3 minutes.  
  3. Now add chili bean sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar with the soft tofu and put back on to medium heat.  Mix well.  
  4. Pour in vegetable stock and corn starch.  Mix well.  
  5. Reduce to low heat, put a lid on and cook 3-4 minutes.  Heat off.  Transfer to a plate with the cooked rice noodle.  
  6. Drizzle a little sesame oil and garnish with chopped spring onion and coriander before serving.  

Vegan Ma Po Tofu with Rice Noodle

Vegan Ma Po Tofu with Rice Noodle

Vegan Ma Po Tofu with Rice Noodle

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