Asian Recipes

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Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Vegetarian Mock Fish Sauce) Recipe

If you like seasoning your Asian dishes such as bánh xèo and bì cuốn chay (fresh spring rolls) with the typical Vietnamese condiment called nước mắm but find it too strong to your taste or simply if you're a vegetarian, this recipe is for you. The vegetarian equivalent is called nước chấm.

I use lemon-flavored soy sauce as a main ingredient but there is a new product called nước mắm chay available in Asian stores. It gets a "sea" flavor from the addition of seaweed to the product.

It is also a nice addition to Asian soups like my sweet and sour pineapple soup.  Just serve it on the side and let your guests add as much (or as little) as they like.  In Vietnam, this sauce, or its fish-based equivalent, is as common on the dinner table as a salt shaker is in the West.


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Bi Chay (Shredded Tofu and Crispy Mock Pork) Recipe

Bì chay is probably one of my favorite Vietnamese vegetarian street foods. Not only is it a popular everyday eat, but it is also very common at temples. It's a mix of fried Asian ingredients such as tofu, taro, potatoes, jicama and fine vermicelli noodles. The whole mix is topped with dry toasted jasmine rice mill. It gives a nice aroma and chewy texture to the blend.

Whenever I pack sandwiches for a picnic, I either make the good ol' cheese and vegetable sandwich or an Asian-style sandwich, which is called bánh mì chay. It is a Vietnamese-style baguette sandwich stuffed with bì chay, pickled daikon and carrots, and green sliced chiles.

You can also simply eat bì chay with bún (bún chay), the vegetarian equivalent of bún cá chiên (fried fish with vermicelli rice noodles). 

If you want to serve this as a appetizer (bì cuốn chay) for a vegetarian crowd, just wrap the bì chay in rice paper and create little spring rolls.


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Vegetarian Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Vegetarian Sweet and Sour Pork

07.25.09 by Jackie

Sweet and Sour Pork can be found on the menu at just about any Chinese restaurant.  I wanted to make use of the pineapple and ketchup sauce in a vegetarian dish for the herbivores in my house.  I substituted tofu for the pork; you can also use seitan if you prefer (or meat if you're like me). 

I used fresh pineapple to provide natural sweetness and a hint of tang to the sauce.  I also added a little lime juice to brighten it up. To thicken the sauce, I dissolved a little cornstarch in water and added it to the mix. To this, just throw in a few carrots and enoki mushrooms and you're ready for a quick and easy dinner.


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Crispy Egg Noodles with Mixed Vegetables (Mi Xao Don) Recipe

Mì xào dòn chay, literally "vegetarian crispy sautéed noodles" in Vietnamese, is probably the most typical comfort food in Vietnamese cuisine. Its sauce is quite similar to ma-po tofu and adds an interesting, richer texture when it's blended with the crispy noodles. The addition of mixed vegetables and tofu makes it a very healthy dish even though the noodles are fried.

This dish reminds me of my first date with my husband at a Vietnamese restaurant back in 2000. I remember that mì xào dòn chay was the only vegetarian dish on the menu. I ordered the beef version mì xào dòn bò. I started eating and Lulu, shy, was staring at me. I asked him if everything was okay; I was thinking that maybe he didn't like this dish. And he said that he was afraid to be clumsy and spill the sauce everywhere and asked me if I could mix the sauce and crispy noodles for him. I found it so adorable. I have been mixing the sauce and noodles for him every time I make this dish ever since. 


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Vegetarian Quinoa and Eggplant Caviar Recipe

"Chose promise, chose due!" This is a French expression that translates as promises are made to be kept.

As promised, this is the recipe of the vegetarian equivalent of fish caviar that I served my "vegetarian" dinner guests last night. I paired it with mini-crumpets and a little dollop of crème fraîche in between.

This recipe was inspired by the Tassajara Cookbook by Karla Oliveira, which is an excellent resource for vegetarian party food recipes. The quinoa grains and eggplant seeds resemble the original fish eggs. It is basically eggplant caviar, very similar to baba ganoush, mixed with cooked quinoa.

For more flavor, I topped it with an Asian-style mint and cilantro sauce that added a beautiful, bright green color.


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