Asian-inspired vegetarian cooking can be flavorful and fast.
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I would say, prepare your own basic sauces because it is the easiest thing to do. All it takes is one trip to an Asian grocery store. Believe me, once you make your own curry sauce – Thai curry sauce, red curry sauce, green curry sauce – and then you compare it with the store-bought sauce, you will realize the difference in taste and the effort is well worth it.Skip to next paragraph
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How long would it take, from the prep work and all the way through to the completion, to prepare one of these full Asian-vegan meals?
I would say within an hour and 15 minutes I could prepare an entire meal – provided that I have all the ingredients.... I could make a meal with six dishes, including a starter, a soup, a main dish, a side dish, salad, everything. Once you have your ingredients ready, cooking is actually very quick. And easy.
Don't be in awe of your food, of your ingredients. Just be relaxed. You don't have to follow a recipe to the point of letting it stress you out. Cooking is not like baking, where a fraction of a teaspoon [too much] of any spice is going to damage a dish. Just be free to experiment and be flexible. The important thing is to enjoy cooking. And that is reflected in the flavor.
Can you recommend an Asian dish from your new cookbook for children, who don't always like spicy foods or vegetables?
I think children would like Sesame Potatoes from Indian cuisine. This is put together easily. All you require is a few boiled potatoes that you cut into bite-sized pieces. [Place oil in a frying pan], add some mustard seeds, and let them splatter. Add 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, because they give a nice pearly look to the dish once it is ready. Add all your spices ... a little bit of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of coriander powder, some chili powder, a little bit of garam masala, some salt and sugar, and toss your potatoes to let them brown evenly, about 5 to 7 minutes over medium-low heat. Once they are browned, garnish with fresh cilantro and they are ready. You can serve them with toothpicks as an appetizer or serve them as a side dish. They will love this dish.
This is a delicious starter made with some of the many mushrooms available in Thailand. Sweet Chili Sauce (see below) is perfect for dipping.
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, drained, and sliced
3-1/2 ounces fresh straw mushrooms, chopped
3-1/2 ounces fresh angel mushrooms, finely chopped
3-1/2 ounces fresh wood ear mushrooms, chopped
1 cup corn flour
1 fresh, hot, green chili, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Sweet Chili Sauce, to serve
In a deep bowl, mix together all the mushrooms and set aside.
To prepare the batter, combine the corn flour with the chilies, ginger-garlic paste, pepper, and salt. Add the water gradually to make a thick batter. Add the mushrooms to the batter and toss gently to mix evenly.
Heat the oil for deep-frying to 350 degrees F. Take a heaping tablespoon of the mushroom mix and slide into the hot oil. Deep-fry in small batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with Sweet Chili Sauce. Serves 4.
Sweet Chili Sauce
5 large, fresh red chilies, seeded
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup plum sauce (or orange marmalade)
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind the chilies and garlic to a smooth paste. Put the plum sauce (or orange marmalade), sugar, water, vinegar, and salt in a saucepan. Add the ground chilies and garlic and stir to mix. Simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Transfer to a bowl and cool. Makes about 3/4 cup and keeps refrigerated for about a week.
Source: 'The Asian Vegan Kitchen'