Greens and Mushrooms with Fermented Tea Leaf

tea salad kit

Inspired by my Korean cooking course, I went seeking more fermented products, and came across something especially tasty from Burma: fermented tea leaf (laphet.) The beloved San Francisco restaurant Burma Superstar has started selling it in jars, as part of a salad kit with a nut mix. It tastes a little bit like pesto, except much more subtle and layered. I got just the jar and used it in this easy steamed vegetable recipe, which I served atop a baked potato.

Greens from three beets (about 4 cups)
2 cups various mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
splash of water
1 heaping tbsp fermented tea leaf

Chop up beet greens and mushrooms.
Heat up a pan. Add garlic cloves and heat them up for 30 seconds. Then, add mushrooms and beet greens. Splash some water in to prevent sticking.
Cook until beet greens wilt and the volume of the dish considerably decreases. Then, turn off the heat and mix in fermented tea leaf.

Serve on top of a baked potato or with rice.

Chickpea Pancakes with Korean Fermented Sauces

korean chickpea pancakes

This month I’m taking a wonderful online course in Korean temple cooking, offered by Tricycle and taught by the amazing Shin Kim from Banchan Story. In addition to some innovative recipes, we are learning quite a bit about the connections between temple cuisine and Buddhist traditions.

I’ve always loved Korean food–there was a lovely restaurant in Jerusalem that I used to frequent with my best friend from high school–and learning about temple cooking adds another layer of wonderfulness. In particular, the course introduced me to the use of fermented sauces, which are easily obtainable at any Asian grocery or at Whole Foods. This recipe is my adaptation of Shin’s pancake recipe: I make mine with besan (roasted chickpea flour) to add more nutritional value to the meal, and I serve it with a salad rather than with rice.

2 cups various mushrooms (I used king oyster, shiitake, and maiitake, because that’s what I had at home)
1 medium-size zucchini
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup besan flour or other chickpea flour
2 tbsp Korean fermented pepper sauce (Gochujang)
1 tbsp Korean fermented soybeans (Doenjang)

Chop mushrooms and zucchini into small cubes.
In a big bowl, pour water and mix into it the two fermented sauces. Whisk until smooth. Then, gradually add the besan flour until you get a thick pancake consistency.
Add the vegetables and mix until combined.
Heat up a no-stick pan. When very hot, pour in batter in spoonfuls, each pancake approximately 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.
When the sides begin to crisp and you see bubbles, flip each pancake and briefly cook the other side.

Serve hot and crispy!

Vegan Salade Niçoise

It’s been a month of bad news on every possible level: personal losses, professional disappointments, you name it. To keep our spirits up, we’re trying to eat healthy and well, and today I was inspired to put a little French elegance into our dinner with this simple version of a salade niçoise. The components of this nice composed salad are easy to make and a breeze to assemble.

I’m not particularly in love with the pre-made fake tuna product we used, Vegan Toona, and next time I make this recipe I’ll make a chickpea substitute from scratch (this recipe looks intriguing.) But let’s discuss the different components.

Ready-made stuff you’ll need include cherry tomatoes (colorful ones are especially fun,) Persian cucumbers, tiny radishes, and good olives (not the nasty canned stuff.)

You’ll also need tiny waxy potatoes–we used red and purple–which you can bake for about 20 mins. at 350 degrees, and green beans, which you’ll steam or pressure-cook (I do it for 1 minute in the Instant Pot on high pressure) and, when still crunchy, drop immediately into ice water.

Another component is my beloved tofu eggless salad, which I made this time with olives in lieu of pickles, lots of green onion and parsley, and some kala namak salt for extra egginess.

And finally, Toona is sorta good if drenched in fresh lemon juice and mixed with some thinly minced green onions.

After organizing all the components on the plate, drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Herbs de Provence.

Morning Tofu Scramble

It’s been a long morning; I started working at 5am and will be working until 10pm. Fortunately, I have a brief lull getting from home to the office and managed to make myself a decent breakfast:

100gr extra-firm tofu (about 3/4 cup crumbled)
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
12 cherry tomatoes
2 cups chard leaves, sliced into ribbons
3 large mushrooms
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp olive oil

Heat up olive oil in pan. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and sautee until they soften a bit. Add chard and tomatoes and sautee a few more minutes. In a little bowl, crumble the tofu and mix with the hot sauce. Add to pan and stir fry with the vegetables. Yum!

UPDATE: Great variation – pesto sauce in lieu of the hot sauce, and a little bit of Miyoko’s Kitchen mozarella! Also marvelous.

Stunningly Wonderful Carrot Soup

I’ve just made a simple and marvelous carrot soup! I’m not usually fond of pureed soups, but I had fresh organic carrots and coconut milk and this turned out to be a rousing success. Here goes:

5-6 carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp baharat
1 tsp cumin
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water or broth

Heat olive oil in smallish pot and add onion, garlic, ginger, baharat, and cumin. Sautee for a few minutes until fragrant. Add carrots, water, and coconut milk. Cook for 10 mins, or until carrots are soft. Puree the entire thing in the blender and eat. Enough for two big bowls or four little ones.

Middle Eastern Summer Dinner

Our friend Daniel is staying with us for a couple of days, and we were very happy to host him and his son for dinner. It was a nice summery affair–corn on the cob, roasted eggplant with tahini, salad, green beans in tomato sauce, whole wheat pita and hummus–and it was quickly gobbled up before I had a chance to take a photo.

A few fun tips:

  • After lightly cooking fresh corn on the cob, it’s nice to give it a rub with a bit of vegan butter (thank you, Miyoko Schinner!) and Dipping Herbs. 
  • Take a big eggplant. Use a knife to make about ten slits in it, and stick half a garlic clove (sliced lengthwise) in each slit. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 mins. The garlic melts inside the eggplant and lends it an amazing flavor. Slice lengthwise and serve whole with tahini on top or on the side. The guests scrape out the eggplant goodness.
  • The wonderful spicy tomato sauce used in khreimeh (a Libyan fish dish) can be used to sautee green beans. Lots of taste, none of the suffering.

Kasha with Greens, Squash, and Mushrooms

I just found out something amazing! You can soak kasha (buckwheat) in water, and the result is just as tasty as cooked kasha.

It was the result of a happy accident; I intended to soak it for just a couple of hours, but forgot it in the soaking pot for a day and a half. Ah, well, I thought – I’ll just cook it up. But then I tasted a couple of kernels and realized it didn’t really need any cooking – just a quick turn in the pan that already had a stir-fry from yesterday in it.

Chad had made himself a dinner of greens, squash, and mushrooms, and ate it (probably) over pasta. I got about 8 leaves of young chard, and a handful of spinach, from our garden, threw it in there with the stir fry, and added a few handfuls of kasha. The result was extremely tasty, and improved with a generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast while cooking, as well as a tiny bit of truffle salt.

Chard from the Garden!

These are two or three chard plants from our garden, fresh and ready to eat!

I stir-fried them with tofu, garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, and sriracha, and served the whole thing over rice noodles. There’s nothing like eating vegetables straight from the garden.

We have great plans: tomatoes of four kinds, cucumbers, okra, and herbs. So far, the tomato plants seem to be doing fine. I hope there’s lots and lots of fruit, because I just got an Excalibur Dehydrator and I plan to dry lots for the winter season.

Spring Stir-Fry

This simple and delicate dish combines many spring flavors and uses vegetables from our CSA and rosemary from our garden.

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp safflower oil
3 green onion stalks, thinly sliced
1 pound green beans, with the ends trimmed
3 summer squashes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups chickpeas, cooked
3 twigs rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lemony pepper
2/3 cup white wine

Heat up safflower oil in a wok. Add garlic, ginger, and green onions, and simmer a bit. Then, add green beans, squashes, and chick peas, and stir fry for a few minutes. add herbs and wine, cover wok, and cook for 10-15 mins, or until wine is absorbed and beans are cooked but perky.

Leek Fritters

It’s Passover Eve! Hurrah! And we are invited to celebrate this holiday of spring, freedom, and questionable historical existence, with our good friends of 15 years from the East Bay!

Our friends are having the entire meal catered, and we were told not to worry about food. But I assume most of the invitees are not vegan. On one hand, I don’t like disrupting other people’s plans for the meal; on the other, I don’t want to just bring clandestine tofu blocks for the two of us and ignore everyone else around the table. Also, in the off-chance that anyone around the table eats kosher under the Ashkenazi rules, I don’t want to flood the table with soy or other beans. I’ve come up with two solutions and I plan to do both!

Solution 1: bringing a “cheese plate” of Miyoko’s Cheeses. YEAH!

Solution 2: making amazing leak fritters!

Ori Shavit’s wonderful blog is full of terrific vegan recipes, with an entire section devoted to Passover that I’m sure I’ll be using for years to come. I used her leek latkes recipe with a few minor substitutions. For non-Hebrew readers, it’s as follows:

5 leeks, white and light green parts
4 tbsp matzo flour
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
1 large fistful parsley
1 large fistful cilantro (I substituted oregano and sage)
celery leaves from 5 stalks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Hawaiiej  (I have the real deal, but you can substitute with cumin and cardamom)
safflower oil and potato flour for frying

Cut each leek into three pieces. Place in a pot, cover with water, boil and simmer for 10 mins. Drain.
Then, place cooked leeks and all other ingredients into food processor and process until smooth.
Heat safflower oil in a large pan.
Place spoonfuls of the mix into the pan (you can dip them in potato flour to assist the frying) and fry a few minutes on each side, until firm and golden.