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The Cookstr 10: Vegan Twists on Asian Cuisine

May 12, 2011

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and while the broad and diverse cultures and culinary traditions of countries including Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are too numerous to explore here in depth, we’d like to take this opportunity to present a selection of recipes to expand your global palate.

Katie Chin and Leeann Chin's Braised Stuffed Tofu

Summertime also provides a welcome chance to partake in lighter fare, and the abundance of fresh produce means less reliance on meat and dairy products to give a meal substance and flavor. Many Asian cuisines incorporate soy products like tofu and miso, playing a large role in inspiring chefs in America and around the world to create innovative, satisfying and gourmet vegan dishes. These ten recipes call upon coconut, soy, eggplant, banana, and scallions, but don’t use a single animal product.

James Oseland's Celebration Yellow Rice

1. Celebration Yellow Rice

James Oseland

This fragrant side dish, originating in Java and now eaten throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, gets its festive color from turmeric, a plant native to tropical South Asia. Coconut milk, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves make this grain an inventive substitute for white or brown rice, served alongside stir-frys or stews.

Click here for James’ Celebration Yellow Rice Recipe

2. Green Onion Pancakes


Known in most Chinese restaurants as scallion pancakes, this street food flatbread is a surefire hit as an appetizer or side dish, and will be likely to please young chefs who can help by rolling out the pancake dough.


Click here for Nancie’s Green Onion Pancakes Recipe

3. Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Vegetables

Sharon Crayton

The sweet and sour character of this tofu and vegetable dish is achieved using pineapple, tomatoes, cucumber, Thai chili and soy sauce. Extra-firm tofu is the best choice for stir-frys, as it’s sturdy enough to hold up during cooking.

Click here for Sharon’s Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Vegetables Recipe

4. Eggplant Disks with Miso Sauce

Hiroko Shimbo

When shallow-fried and topped with a rich miso and wine sauce, this Japanese-style eggplant makes a simple and elegant presentation. A garnish of sesame seeds and shiso leaves adds a final polish.

Click here for Hiroko’s Eggplant Disks with Miso Sauce Recipe

5.  Leaf-Wrapped Rice and Banana Bundles
White BeansWai Hon Chu and Connie Lovatt

Known as khao tom mat in Thailand, these rice dumplings are made by cooking sweet white rice in coconut milk, sugar and salt, adding black beans, and wrapping a banana leaf around the rice mixture and a slice of banana, then steaming the bundles until they are soft and moist.

Click here for Wai and Connie’s Leaf-Wrapped Rice and Banana Bundles Recipe

6. Hot-and-Sour Udon Noodle Soup

 Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney

Udon is a thick wheat-flour noodle that is a staple of Japanese cooking. This traditional preparation serves the udon up in a broth including soy sauce and green onions.

Click here for Maxine and Beth’s Hot-and-Sour Udon Noodle Soup Recipe

7. Quick Kimchi

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Kimchi is a general name for many varieties of banchan, or small plates, served with Korean cuisine. The Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul has documented 187 historic and current types of kimchi. The most well-known variety, which has gained mainstream popularity in parts of America, is made from fermented cabbage seasoned with chili pepper and salt. This quick and easy do-it-yourself version is made of napa cabbage and Asian radish that ferments in a mixture of salt water, scallions, garlic, ginger and chili powder.

Click here for Cecilia’s Quick Kimchi Recipe

8.   Braised Stuffed Tofu

 Katie Chin and Leeann Chin

This hearty dish is full of protein and flavored with meaty shiitake, making it a perfect example of umami flavor. Be sure to choose vegetarian oyster sauce, usually prepared from mushrooms, to keep the dish vegan.

Click here for Katie and Leeann’s Braised Stuffed Tofu Recipe

9Tashi’s Doughnut Twists

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Often sold by bakers in Tibetan towns, these fried double-coil doughnuts (called gori maro) are excellent for breakfast, brunch or as an after-school snack.

Click here for Jeffrey and Naomi’s Tashi’s Doughnut Twists Recipe

10. Sake-Sauteed Plums with Ginger and Star Anise

Pichet Ong

Making great use of in-season plums during the summer, this sophisticated dessert will please grown-up palates with ginger, star anise, sake and lemon juice. Ice cream is optional – try a vegan version made from coconut milk!

Click here for  Pichet’s Sake-Sauteed Plums with Ginger and Star Anise Recipe

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