Okonomiyaki + Japanese Mayo (Plant-Based Japanese Recipes)

I’m starting a small series of plant-based Japanese recipes! This series is inspired by my travels in Japan and will feature my take on some of the amazing food I had there. Those who don’t take alliums or alcohol, fret not – I’ve crafted these recipes in a way where these are optional!

It’s very easy to find Japanese ingredients in Singapore from regular supermarkets like NTUC (often has a Japanese section) or speciality stores like Donki, Isetan and Meidi-ya. However, it’s not always easy to figure out what’s plant-based, as sometimes the translations aren’t accurate. I will advice to be a little more careful when buying packaged Japanese products here if you wish to avoid animal products.

Although Japan is not commonly known to be vegan-friendly, things are changing and there’s a surprising amount of accidentally plant-based foods. You can read more about my recommendations from Japan starting from here, or see my reviews of dishes and packaged foods here. The recipes in this series will mostly be of food I ate there as I have a good idea of what’s the benchmark! I don’t claim them to be authentic since I didn’t grow up eating Japanese food, but this is what worked for me. Try it out!

What is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki is a customisable savoury pancake popular all across Japan, but especially famous in 2 places – Osaka and Hiroshima. Okonomi means “as you like” and yaki means fried or stir-fried. There are 2 main styles of okonomiyaki, Osaka style (mixed) and Hiroshima style (layered). At okonomiyaki restaurants, although you can choose what you like to be mixed into the batter, the batter itself already contains eggs and very likely, fish stock. This is a plant-based take on Osaka’s version. If you’re in Osaka, I recommend Vegetable Bar Aju’s (my fav vegan restaurant there) okonomiyaki.

How the pancake looks like before dressing it up.

Ingredients introduction

There are certain ingredients that may be foreign to some. Some are important in getting the texture right.

Ingredients used for these 2 recipes.

1. Nagaimo (Chinese yam, don’t omit)

Chinese people will know this too!

A starchy root, usually available in wet markets or the refrigerated section of supermarkets. This is one amazing ingredient that I learnt about during a vegan takoyaki cooking class in Kyoto. Chinese use it in stir-fries and soups, but often in Japanese cuisine, it’s simply grated and eaten raw as a topping. It’s naturally sticky and smooth without flavour – a fantastic egg replacement in certain applications. Traditional okonomiyaki already contains nagaimo to lift the batter.

2. Aonori (topping, optional)

A type of seaweed dried and made into flakes. The one in the photo is actually aosa (a cheaper type of seaweed) not aonori, but taste is almost the same.

3. Japanese mayonnaise (topping, optional)

Tastier than Western mayo with stronger umami. Vegan mayo is quite easily available in the big cities I visited in Japan, but I haven’t seen it here yet. So I made my own, recipe below. Although optional, I highly recommend as the creamy savouriness really adds depth.

4. Dashi powder (use either this or soup stock)

If you don’t wish to make soup stock from scratch, you can buy konbu dashi powder. This is also used in my mayo recipe below. I got this one in Donki.

5. Beni Shouga (red ginger pickles, optional)

This goes into the batter. It’s gingery and slightly sweet. It’s optional but often used in okonomiyaki, so I included it. I think the main idea is to introduce something crunchy, tangy and umami for textural variation. So you can add any types of pickles you like, or add something else with umami if you don’t like pickles.

6. Okonomi sauce (topping)

Similar to BBQ sauce but thicker and slightly more tangy and sweet. You can replace with regular BBQ sauce. I got this from the Japanese section in NTUC.

7. Baking powder + vinegar+unsweetened soymilk (egg replacement, don’t omit)

Having air bubbles in the batter is necessary for a light texture.

This is to produce air bubbles in the batter so it’s light and tender, not dense or doughy. Okonomiyaki usually already have baking powder, I just added vinegar to help produce the air bubbles. You can use any types of vinegar with a light flavour, like rice, brown rice, apple cider or distilled vinegar. Soymilk helps to add protein and moisture, which also helps to achieve a light and moist texture. This particular brand of soy milk in the photo is great for cooking, from Donki. Don’t use sweetened flavoured soymilk, unless you really like chocolate flavoured okonomiyaki? 🙂

8. Dashi (don’t omit)

Dashi is the backbone of Japanese cuisine. It’s a soup stock used in most savoury foods, usually made from fish (katsuo). The ocean has blessed us with another source of briny umami from plants – kelp, a.k.a konbu. Learn how to make konbu dashi easily here. Since washing the dried konbu isn’t recommended, I prefer to use Japanese konbu (available in some NTUC and Japanese shops) as Chinese ones sometimes have sand. In this picture, the dashi hasn’t been boiled yet hence the light colour. You may use vegetable or mushroom stock to replace.

Recipe: Japanese mayonnaise (egg & dairy-free)

Makes about 500ml (The recipe is doubled because my food processor is too big, if you want to make less, half the recipe.)

  • 1/2 cup aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas)
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp black salt
  • 3 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups grape seed oil
  • 2 tsp konbu dashi powder 
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of turmeric (optional, for colour)
  1. Process aquafaba and mustard in a food processor.
  2. While the food processor is running, drizzle a third of the oil slowly into mixture. Do not pour all at once.
  3. Add salt, sugar and dashi powder.
  4. Drizzle a third of the oil again while the food processor is running.
  5. Add rice vinegar, lemon juice and drizzle the remaining oil. Process the mixture for extra 10 seconds after everything is mixed.
  6. Taste and adjust by adding more sugar, dashi or black salt to your taste. Try not to add more of the liquid ingredients to avoid diluting it. If it’s too thin, drizzle more oil while machine is running to thicken. Store in clean bottles, can be kept in fridge for a week.

Recipe: Okonomiyaki (egg-free)

Makes 3 medium-sized pancakes. Recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook – look at the step-by-step photos here before attempting.

Okonomiyaki is hard to photograph ;__;

Batter

  • 1 cup flour, sifted (also works with whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (or sea salt, to enhance flavour)
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce (because we are omitting animal products, it’ll be best to add more flavour to the batter)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or any light flavoured vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 3 inch nagaimo, grated
  • 3/4 cup plant-based dashi (Or 1 tsp dashi powder dissolved in 3/4 cup water)

These ingredients can be replaced with anything you like:

  • 1/2 of a medium sized cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1 tomato, chopped finely
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickles (or anything with umami that you like, eg: other pickles, kimchi, preserved black beans, achar, Chinese preserved mustard, etc)
  • Green onions, chopped finely (those who can’t take alliums, try chopped chilli, ginger or toon sauce, etc.)
  • Slices of marinated tofu or tempeh, or any sliced protein, mushroom or veggie that you prefer.

Toppings (as much or as little as you like)

  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Okonomi sauce
  • Chopped spring onions (optional)
  • Vegan dried squid (can buy from vegetarian grocery shops, optional, to replace bonito flakes)
  • Aonori or aosa (or similar seaweed flakes)
  • Other topping ideas: Chilli sauce, fried onions, soy floss, black pepper, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, furikake
  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in a big bowl.
  2. Add grated nagaimo and dashi stock. Mix.
  3. Add vinegar, soy milk and pickles. Mix till just combined.
  4. Add chopped vegetables and mushrooms a third at a time. Mix before adding the next batch. Batter should be sticky and thick with visible air bubbles.
  5. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
  6. Pour a third of the batter into the pan. Use spatulas to press the batter into a round shape. Reduce to low medium heat, cook for couple of minutes till browned.
  7. Press slices of tempeh/tofu on top of the batter.
  8. Using 2 spatulas, flip the pancake to cook the side with sliced tofu/tempeh.
  9. Cook till browned, remove from heat and transfer to plate. Spread okonomi sauce on top.
  10. Top with mayo, aonori, spring onions and other toppings you like.
  11. Repeat until you use up all batter. Serve hot!
Because you can add anything you like, your’s may look different – don’t worry! The texture should come out tender, light, slightly gooey, soft, not runny or dense and doughy.

Notes:

1. Do not over mix the batter to avoid pressing out air bubbles. Stop when everything is just combined.

2. A good okonomiyaki has one more ingredient – tempura bits. It’s helps to make the batter fluffier. However, my parents wish to avoid deep fried foods so I didn’t buy it. Those are available in the okonomiyaki section in Donki. Note that not all types are plant-based.

3. If you’re cooking this for the first time, start by making smaller pancakes so it’s easier to flip. Don’t hesitate when you flip and do it with one quick action.

I can’t take full credit for developing this recipe. There’s plenty of Japanese recipes online but I prefer to learn from ones that are written by Japanese people. I learnt a lot from Just One Cookbook and my favourite, A Japanese Vegan’s Kitchen. Highly recommend their pages for precious, time-saving tips! Next up, ramen. Stay tuned 🙂

Tempeh Bak Kwa – Updated Recipe + Channel 8 Feature

Hope everyone’s 2019 has been good so far! 2019 so far has given me some new opportunities and positive changes. I hope that things are finally looking up and all the hard work I did in 2018 will pay off. My closest friends will know that 2018 was tough in certain aspects. I really want to thank all the amazing friends that supported, listened and gave me advice – couldn’t have made it without you!

In late December 2018, I received an email from a Channel 8 producer, asking to feature my old tempeh bak kwa recipe on the Hello Singapore show. She had found the recipe on this blog as she was searching for one that is healthier and isn’t conventional meat bak kwa. As an introvert who isn’t comfortable being filmed or photographed (I really prefer being behind camera!), I struggled at first on whether to accept it. But this is a great chance for the masses to learn that our favourite traditional foods can also be made with plants. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put my discomfort aside.

It was a fun and interesting shoot with Youyi 有懿 thanks to Channel 8’s amazing crew! I was very nervous and awkward because it’s my first time being filmed. Everyone was very patient and nice during the shoot and wrapped everything up in the most professional manner I’ve ever seen on a set (I’ve worked on sets before as assistants). The show will be aired on Hello Singapore 狮城有约 on 28 Jan 2019, 7.15pm and will be available online on Toggle. Also really glad that the crew enjoyed the bak kwa (and tapao-ed everything back)!

you yi
You Yi and the crew were amazing and so professional!

Recipe is based on the one I posted 3 years ago, but simplified. Here’s the updated detailed recipe which is easier, slightly shorter with ingredients that are rather easy to find. I chose tempeh as the base protein as it’s a more digestible alternative to processed mock meat. Flaxseed powder is used as the binder, the other ingredients contribute to taste.

This is a slightly tricky recipe to make as temperature and time control is crucial, usually some pieces (especially those at the edges) will be burnt.

Tempeh Bak Kwa (makes 12-15 bite sized pieces):

For base:

  • 400g tempeh
  • ½ cup neutral flavour plant oil (don’t use olive or unrefined coconut)

For marinade:

  • 1 block of fermented red beancurd
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed powder (for binding, cannot omit, found in organic section in NTUC)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp red rice yeast (optional, for colour, from TCM shops)
  • 90g raw sugar (or use regular sugar)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp rice wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp maltose (can be bought from Chinese goods shops in market)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp of each: five-spice powder, ginger powder, chilli powder, white pepper powder, black pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional but highly recommended, can be found in bigger Cold Storage outlets)
  • 1/2 tbsp white miso (optional, improves umami)
  • 1 tsp marmite (optional, improves umami)

For glaze:

  • 1 tbsp maltose
  • 1tbsp water/red water (see step 2)
  1. Steam tempeh for 5-10mins and let cool. In a food processor, blend with the oil to a thick, smooth paste. This step is important in removing the fermented taste from tempeh.
  2. Mix or boil 1/2 cup hot water and red rice yeast in a bowl. The water will be reddish, strain and let cool.
  3. Add all marinade ingredients into food processor on top of blended tempeh and oil. Blend till combined and well mixed.
  4. Transfer paste to a bowl. Cover bowl and leave overnight in fridge, or for at least 6 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. Spread paste on baking paper on a large baking tray. Spread out the paste with spatula to about 0.3 cm thick. Sides will be thinner so gently push back the sides to minimise burning while baking.
  6. Bake in oven for ~25 mins till paste is dry to touch and able to lift slightly in one piece. Remove from oven. 
  7. Let the paste cool slightly before cutting. Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 230C. Mix 1 tbsp maltose with 1 tbsp red water to make the glaze.
  8. Using a pizza cutter, cut into bite sized pieces. Brush one side with glaze.
  9. Bake for 7-10mins then remove tray from oven, flip each slice over and glaze the other side. Return to oven and grill for 5 mins or until sides are slightly charred. Watch the oven carefully here, at this point it burns easily!
  10. Remove and let cool, minimize touching when hot, as it breaks easily. The slices will harden when cooled. Brush with the remaining glaze (optional, it will look shinier) Can be kept in airtight container in fridge for up to 1-2 weeks.

Due to time constraints and the amount of labour needed to make this, I won’t be able to sell them. If you want good vegan bak kwa, I can recommend the one from Yes Natural brand. 🙂

Thank you for reading my posts as always! This happened because of your amazing support. I hope to continue producing good, plant-based content to help fellow Asians who want to eat healthier/vegan. Due to my new responsibilities, the posts may not be as frequent as they were in 2018 but I will keep them coming 🙂

PS: On a side note, I made a short travel film of my Japan trip here. Enjoy!

Tempeh Rendang (Low FODMAP, gluten-free)

Rendang has been in the news quite a bit. While Malay food lovers worldwide were going “Alamak!” over this, it made me crave for some spicy, coconut-y protein goodness! Since April is IBS Awareness Month, I decided to make a low FODMAP version of this local favourite.

FODMAP stands for:
Fermentable i.e. Foods that are digested by intestinal bacteria – producing gas that causes bloating
Oligosaccharides i.e. Starchyose, Raffinose e.g. sources from legumes, beans, lentils, certain vegetables. Acts as soluble fiber.
Disaccharides i.e. sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and maltose (malt sugar)
Monosaccharides i.e. simplest form of carbohydrate such as glucose, fructose (fruit sugar)
Polyols e.g. sugar alcohol such as xylitol, sorbitol; low calorie/no calorie sweetener which are poorly digested.

Here’s a list of high FODMAP foods that doctors suggest IBS patients to avoid.

Malay food is usually not vegan or FODMAP-friendly because of the high usage of shrimp paste (belacan), meats, garlic, shallots and onions. Nevertheless, Malay cuisine also uses plenty of plant-based proteins like tempeh, beancurd skin and tofu. Moreover a large amount of flavour comes from other spices which are low FODMAP.

Low FODMAP spices and herbs. Note that tamarind is low FODMAP when less than 1 tbsp.

If you do not have IBS, feel free to use onion, garlic, shallots in replacement of leek and asafoetida. For those who cannot take all alliums, I have yet to come up with an allium-free recipe but intend to do so. Stay tuned!


Recipe: Low FODMAP tempeh rendang
(Serves 2)

For the rempah (paste):
– 1/2 tsp asafoetida
– Green part from 1 leek
– 2.5 cm galangal
– 2.5 cm ginger
– 3 lemongrass, white part only, chopped very finely
– 3-10 pcs dried red chilli, soaked and deseeded
– 1 tsp salt

Pound in a pestle and mortar or process in food processor to a paste. Add water if too dry. Set aside.

For the dish:
– 200g tempeh, cut into cubes
– 1.5 tbsp oil
– 1 stick cinnamon
– 2-3 cloves
– 1 star anise
– 2-3 cardamom pods
– 3 lemongrass stalks, green parts, bruised to release fragrance
– 6 kaffir lime leaves, scrunched up to release fragrance
– 1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted till slightly browned
– 1 tbsp tamarind paste (any more will be considered high FODMAP)
– 1/2 cup coconut milk (if you can tolerate more, use 1 cup for best flavour.)
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup water

Garnish (optional):
– 1 stalk coriander
– Juice from 1 lime

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Fry rempah till fragrant. Add cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom pods, lemongrass and fry till fragrant. Add tempeh and stir till mixed with the spices and paste. Add salt, coconut milk and water, cover and simmer over low-medium heat till liquid is almost reduced. Taste and season with lime juice and more salt if preferred. Garnish and serve hot with rice. Leftovers can be kept in fridge up to 3 days.

Notes:
– According to Monash University  , ½ cup coconut milk and 1 tbsp tamarind paste is considered high FODMAP if eaten at one sitting. This recipe serves 2 people as a side dish. So if you’re observing the diet, avoid eating the whole serving at one go, no matter how tempting it may be!
– If you wish to save time, make the paste in bulk and refrigerate. Mine kept well for 3 weeks and counting.
– If you wish to save even more time, some spice paste brands in NTUC carries ready-made rendang paste, but they all have onion/garlic/shallots.

Rendang is usually made with palm sugar to give it the signature brown colour, but those with IBS may be sensitive to processed sugar. Hence, I omitted it here, but feel free to add 1 – 2 tbsp of palm sugar if you prefer!

If made correctly, the tempeh cubes should be juicy inside.

 

Although Low FODMAP vegan diet may be restrictive, you can definitely make it exciting and flavourful with the uses of spices and herbs. Spices and herbs are usually Low FODMAP. They are basically made up indigestible insoluble fiber. We usually do not consume them directly or in large amounts.

Alliums such as onions and garlic are often used as a herb for many dishes to give a base flavour. However, onions and garlic are typically considered high FODMAP as it contain an oligosaccharide called fructan, which can be gas-producing. In this recipe, the green part of the leek, an allium, is used instead. The white part of the leek is considered high FODMAP while the green one is low FODMAP. So you can still enjoy alliums but only selected parts are safe. Asafoetida is a great onion substitute with a similar flavour.

A person eating a plant-based diet often gets their protein from legumes like beans and lentils. However in the case of a vegan low FODMAP diet, it can be trickier as legumes are usually high FODMAP. Thankfully, there are still low FODMAP legumes available in the form of tempeh. Although it is made up of soy (a legume), it is low FODMAP as it is made by fermentation. The process of soaking, fermenting and cooking significantly reduces the amount of oligosaccharides present in soybeans. The beneficial bacteria produces enzymes to help to eliminate or reduce the amount of anti-nutrients and oligosaccharides found in soybeans. This makes tempeh’s nutritional profile even more superior because we are able to absorb more nutrients.

Tempeh can be bought here at mid-range supermarkets and wet markets.

A vegan low FODMAP diet can be challenging, but recipes like this can make the whole process easier and tastier! Take restrictions as possibilities to explore new ingredients and recipes. Wish everyone happy tastebuds and guts!

Nutritional info from Krystle Koh.

Best served with a bowl of steaming hot rice!

Singapore Rice Noodles (Sin Chew Bee Hoon) – Low FODMAP, Allium-Free

April is IBS Awareness Month. IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a digestive disorder that has no known cure yet as the causes are complex. But, it can be managed well with lifestyle changes.

Some of my long-time readers will know that I have had IBS for the past 15 years, and it is one of the reasons (other than ethical and environmental) that I adopted a whole food, plant-based diet. 20% of the population in Singapore has IBS and many don’t know about it. I believe in spreading awareness to help those affliccted make beneficial changes to improve quality of life.

One of the ways recommended by doctors to manage IBS is to try a low FODMAP diet for some time. Such a diet mainly involves avoiding foods that may be triggering the gut and identify intolerances. Currently, I am not able to try low FODMAP, but I’m putting out a couple of suitable recipes for those on this diet. Most FODMAP-friendly recipes online now are Western or Westernised dishes. With some creativity and care, Southeast Asian IBS sufferers can enjoy familiar foods again, like a local Chinese rice noodles dish, Sin Chew Bee Hoon.

Sin Chew Bee Hoon means Singapore Rice Noodles. Don’t confuse it with the Singapore Noodles popular in Western countries. Actually, you can’t find that in Singapore. Singapore Noodles are rice noodles stir-fried with curry powder, a combination that originated from Hong Kong, not Singapore .

Mention “Singapore Noodles” to a Singaporean, they will be confused and maybe irritated at the lack of understanding of the food culture, which is a national pride.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for:

  • Fermentable i.e. Foods that are digested by intestinal bacteria – producing gas that causes bloating.
  • Oligosaccharides i.e. Starchyose, Raffinose e.g. sources from legumes, beans, lentils, certain vegetables. Acts as soluble fiber.
  • Disaccharides i.e. sucrose (refined sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and maltose (malt sugar).
  • Monosaccharides i.e. simplest form of carbohydrate such as glucose, fructose (fruit sugar).
  • Polyols e.g. sugar alcohol such as xylitol, sorbitol; low calorie/no calorie sweetener which are poorly digested.

Low FODMAP simply means avoiding foods high in FODMAP.

Low FODMAP foods. Source: Katescarlata

Pointers to keep in mind:

  • A vegan diet low in FODMAP is highly restrictive and it serves as a short term solution to reduce IBS symptoms and find out intolerances.
  • Low FODMAP doesn’t mean no FODMAP. You would definitely consume FODMAP in many recipes but in amounts that are suitable for your body.
  • Eating actual main meals and less sweet desserts can help to reduce your intake of FODMAP. By reducing sugar intake, you are treating your gut well. Certain fruits such as grapes, strawberry, pineapple can be used as dessert as they are lower in FODMAP.
  • Portion size matters to keep the amount of FODMAP in check.
Firm tofu has less FODMAPs than silken types. Go for sprouted tofu whenever possible.

Sin Chew Bee Hoon 星州米粉 is usually made with high FODMAP ingredients like garlic, onion, shallots, spring onion and oyster sauce. Vegetarian oyster sauce likely contains MSG which is another gut irritant. For this FODMAP-friendly version, I used tomatoes, traditional soy sauce and miso to achieve a rich, natural, MSG-free umami.


Low-FODMAP SIN CHEW BEE HOON

  • 1 serving of rice noodles, soaked till just softened.
  • 1/2 tbsp traditional soy sauce (use tamari or Bragg’s for gluten-free option)
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 5cm ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 block sprouted firm tofu, sliced to bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/3 carrot, julienned
  • 2 chilli padi, halved, seeds removed (some IBS patients are sensitive to chilli, omit if needed)
  • 1 piece bamboo shoot, sliced to bite sized pieces
  • White pepper, to taste
  • Coriander, to garnish
  • 1 Lime, to garnish (some IBS patients are sensitive to citruses even in small amounts, omit if needed)

In a pan, fry tofu slices in oil till evenly browned. Set aside. Dissolve miso and soy sauce into water in a bowl, set aside. In a wok, heat oil and add ginger, chilli, fry till fragrant. Add tomato and stir for a minute over medium heat, till softened. Add bamboo shoots, carrot and fry for a minute or so. Add rice noodles with the miso and soy sauce mixture. Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring when needed till noodles soften and liquid is almost absorbed. If you like to have more gravy, remove from heat earlier. Garnish with coriander and lime and serve hot.


What makes it low FODMAP?

Low FODMAP ingredients.

Vegetables

Vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables which are more difficult to digest as it contain higher amounts of raffinose compared to other vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and bamboo shoots used in the recipe.

Tofu and Miso

Firm tofu is slightly easier to digest than regular soybeans because it went through process of soaking and finally squeezing out the excess liquid — which removes the galacto-oligosaccharides present in soy. Miso is made from fermented soybean so it makes it easy for the gut to digest.

Rice Noodles

Rice is a gluten free complex carbohydrate (starch) and FODMAP only consist of short to medium chain carbohydrate. Therefore it is considered low FODMAP. It is also easier to digest than the regular wheat noodles which is on the high FODMAP scale; plus it also contains gluten which is worse for people with gluten sensitivities. Most IBS sufferers can take rice at moderate amounts without triggering symptoms.

The most efficient ways to manage light to mild IBS is a holistic lifestyle approach – stress management, eating suitably and regularly, regular exercise and sufficient rest. My detailed tips to manage IBS here. When in doubt, always consult a healthcare professional. Wish everyone happy guts and stay tuned for the next recipe!

For a more complete list of FODMAP-friendly foods, visit here. Note that not all Asian ingredients are listed. When in doubt, avoid or test small amounts.

Nutritional information provided by Krystle Co.

 

VEGAN KAYA RECIPE VIDEO

My kaya recipe, which was posted 3 years back, turned out to be the most popular recipe! We Southeast Asians really love our velvety smooth and coconut-y sweet breakfast spread, and we want it vegan too! I’ve decided to put out a video since kaya is quite complex to make. It is easier to follow if the steps visually and sequentially laid out.

For foreign friends, pandan leaves are like our vanilla. Being a tropical plant that needs a lot of water, pandan is not cultivated anywhere other than Southeast and South Asia. It’s used in almost all Southeast Asian sweets, drinks and sometimes savoury dishes too. It has a light, pleasant and unique fragrance that can’t exactly be substituted. Likely your local Asian grocery store will carry the extract, frozen or canned version.


Nyonya Kaya recipe

Takes 2-3 hours. Makes 300ml.

  • 300g silken tofu (I prefer non-organic tofu. Organic tofu tends to have a stronger soy taste.)
  • 200g raw sugar
  • 200ml coconut milk (Not every brand of coconut milk works, some give an overly strong coconut taste. You have to experiment.)
  • 8 pandan leaves cut into strips
  • 2 knotted pandan leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Blend the silken tofu and pour into steel mixing bowl. Blend pandan leaves with coconut milk and strain into the bowl. Add in sugar and salt. Place mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water simmering over low heat. Stir every 5-10mins for 15 -20 mins till mixture thickens slightly. Sieve into another bowl to remove lumps. Return to heat and cook for 20-30mins, stirring every 5-10 mins till mixture becomes slightly thinner than desired consistency (it sets and thickens in fridge). Let cool, transfer into clean container.

Homemade kaya’s shelf life is not as long as store bought ones. It can be kept in an air tight container up for 1 week in the fridge. Always scoop out with clean utensils. Never store anything homemade with coconut milk at room temperature for long, eg for more than 3 hours.


Nutritional Comments

By nutritionist Krystle Koh.

Kaya is not a health food but you definitely can make it healthier! Homemade Kaya is so much healthier than the usual kaya spread sold in groceries stores — made without preservatives, chemicals or other colourings.  Since this kaya recipe is free from animal ingredients, it is completely cholesterol-free. A great option for those watching calories or cholesterol levels.

This recipe is lower in fat compared to the conventional kaya. Kaya spread can be quite high in sugar nonetheless therefore use it sparingly if you are watching your sugar intake. Raw sugar is less refined and has slightly more minerals than white sugar. Using pandan leaves is better than artificial pandan flavouring, health and taste wise!

This recipe uses silken tofu as an egg substitute. Not only it helps to give the spread a smooth texture, tofu is also a great source of plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates and calcium. Compared to eggs, it is much lower in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free.

Coconut milk in this recipe is an essential ingredient to create fragrance and gives a creamy texture. Although coconut milk is a high saturated fat food, it is not a good reason to avoid it like the plague. Eating fats at moderate amounts is good for balancing hormones (especially among women), keep your skin soft, supple and provides you with satiation (prevents you from getting too peckish in between meals). You are less likely to snack and therefore could help in weight management.

The saturated fatty acids present in the coconut meat is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs); which is unlike the long-chain triglycerides usually found in certain processed plant oils and animal fats. Some studies suggests that this type of MCTs can be easily metabolized by the body to become energy or ketones in the liver— so it is less likely to be stored as fat in the body. However, over-consumption of any high-calorie food will result in fat accumulation. Coconut milk also contains a type of fatty acids called lauric acids, which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and could therefore potentially prevent infection. So we do not need to fear fats if they are consumed in healthy amounts!

Hope you find this how-to video useful! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe to my channel.

Slow Cooked Soy Sauce Beans & Nuts

Oil-free, tasty, full of spice and umami. This easy and protein-rich recipe is a food prep staple. It’s easy to make and keeps well in the fridge. If you have problems digesting beans, don’t worry – read on for our nutritionist’s advice.

This recipe was inspired by my mother’s signature slow-cooked tofu. Firm tofu pieces are slowly stewed and left to sit overnight in a lip-smacking, umami-rich broth. As someone who has always been interested in new ways to cook familiar ingredients, I chose beans and nuts instead of tofu. Three reasons:

  • I think Chinese vegetarian cuisine need to move beyond tofu and processed soy. Thus I like to use high protein whole foods to replace tofu in traditional dishes.
  • Beans and nuts offer a more varied nutrition profile and should be an important part of a vegan diet if you have no allergies to them.
  • Cooked beans and nuts also offer more diverse textures. Some have more crunch, some melt in your mouth. If you’re bored of tofu’s soft and chewy textures, go for these.

If you’re living in any Asian country, you’ll be familiar with rice cookers. Cook this in a rice cooker for minimum fuss and effort. It’s not advisable to make it over open fire gas stove for safety reasons. It’s easy to forget there’s something boiling on the stove and sometimes wind may extinguish the fire.

This cooking method is know as 卤 (lu) in Chinese cuisine. It’s a type of oil-free slow cooking that relies on low constant heat, total immersion of ingredients, time and quality of sauce and spices for flavour. The secret to maximum flavour in this recipe is reducing the amount of liquid to as little as possible (without burning) so taste is concentrated in the beans and nuts itself. Thus, control of the water amount is most important.

Spices used

Cloves – A type of flower bud. Sweet and warm flavour. Don’t add too much as it’s very aromatic and strong.

Cao Guo – Also known as Chinese black cardamom, it is commonly used in Sichuan cuisine. Smoky, slightly peppery and earthy. Add one or two into your bottle of Chinese vinegar to impart more flavour.

Cinnamon stick – Sweet, warm and spicy flavour. In the West, ground cinnamon is commonly used in sweet recipes. In Asia, cinnamon is used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Star anise – Smoky and strongly aromatic. The main ingredient in Chinese five spice powder.

Whole white pepper – White pepper is just black pepper with the outer skin removed. Spicier but less complex flavour than black pepper. The best white pepper is from Muntok Island, Indonesia.

Whole black pepper – Complex spicy flavour due to the outer skin. Even stronger when freshly ground.


Recipe

Spices & Seasoning:

  • 1 pc cao guo
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 pcs whole white pepper
  • 8-10 pcs whole black pepper
  • 1-2 pcs chilli padi, halved lengthwise, seeds removed (omit if you prefer non-spicy)
  • 1 pc of 1 cm thick ginger, sliced
  • 1 5cmx5cm pc kelp (or 2 tbsp wakame), washed
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional, omit if you don’t take alliums for religious reasons)
  • 2 -3 tbsp quality soy sauce

Beans & Nuts:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (other nuts like peanuts, walnuts, Chinese almonds can be used too)
  • 2 cups dry whole beans (I used black soy beans, you can use any that don’t split too much when cooked, eg, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, red bean, soy bean, lima beans etc)
  • 1.5L – 2L of water (amount of water varies depending on bean type and cooker type)

12 hours before cooking, soak the dry beans in water. Discard the soaking water 12 hours later and give the beans a rinse. Place all beans, nuts, spices and seasoning into a rice cooker. Add enough water to cover all ingredients fully. Set to cook for about 1.5-2 hours. Around the last half hour mark, open the rice cooker to check the water amount. Refill with more water if too dry to prevent burning. Cook till water is almost absorbed. Transfer into bowl/container, serve hot or cool before storing.


Note:

  • Asafoetida is a traditional Indian spice that improves digestibility of beans. It can be bought from Indian grocery shops. It is not part of the allium family but is forbidden to be consumed in certain religions, as they are believed to have the same effects as alliums.
  • This recipe can be cooked in a pressure cooker or magic pot. Downside is, towards the end of cooking it’s not as easy to check and adjust the water amount compared to rice cooker.
  • You can use ground or powdered spices if you don’t have whole ones, but flavour profile may be less complex and rich.

Nutritional Comments

Contributed by KrystleCo.

Food prep is a fantastic way to eat healthier on a plant based diet. This recipe is full of spices for a great antioxidant boost, a good amount of high quality protein and healthy fats to keep you satiated!

Most of the fats from nuts are monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as omega 3 and omega 6. Omega 3 and 6 are essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and must be part of the diet. Both types of unsaturated fatty acids are important for regulating your cholesterol levels and promotes smooth flow of blood. Omega 3 is also particularly important for brain health and reducing inflammation in the body.

Beans are low in saturated fats, high in complex carbohydrate, high in fibre and contains high quality protein. Although meats are good sources of high quality protein, they are devoid of fibre, zero complex carbohydrates and high in saturated fats. High quality protein refers to a protein source that contains all the essential amino acids required by the body. In this recipe, black soy provides all the essential amino acids.

However nuts, legumes, beans and pulses can make us feel gassy and bloated. That is because they contain a sugar compound called oligosaccharides which can pass through our intestinal tract undigested. It is then fermented by intestinal bacteria which will produce gases. Gradually increasing your intake of beans will help to overcome gassiness as your gut build up more good intestinal bacteria. By soaking your beans and legumes as suggested, it can help you to remove some of the oligosaccharides present and improve digestibility of beans. Soaking also helps to remove phytic acids present in beans and legumes. These phytic acid binds to other important mineral sources such as zinc making it difficult for absorption. Therefore soaking not only helps to eliminate the problem of gassiness, it also improves the overall digestibility while avoiding mineral and vitamin deficiencies on a plant-based diet.

Soaked beans will split or even sprout – a great sign!

Make soaking a habit in your food prep today!

VEGANUARY RECIPES: NO-COOK ONE-POT NOODLES SERIES 3

How was your Veganuary? If you tried out being vegan for a month, I hope you find it easy enough to continue for a bit more. If not, I hope this series will help you in other ways 🙂 Part 1 here, part 2 here.

The last recipe of the Veganuary series on No-Cook Noodles is inspired by Korean flavours. Although nothing close to authentic traditional Korean food, this is a fast and easy way to fix your kimchi cravings and fill your tummy!

In this recipe I stuffed minced stir-fried tempeh into tofu puffs. This catches the soup well and every bite is full of juicy, complex flavours. If you wish to save time and omit cooking completely, you can add them separately or use silken tofu which is a food item that is ready-to-eat. Tempeh recipes are here, simply mince with knife or crumble them by hand before frying. Rinse and squeeze the tofu puffs before using, cut in half, score pockets and stuff with the cooked tempeh. This stuffed tofu puffs are high protein and can be easily packed, so it’s a perfect food prep item.

Ingredients


NO COOK KIMCHI UDON

  • 6 tofu puffs stuffed with minced cooked tempeh
  • 1/4 cup kimchi
  • 1 serving of instant udon, remove seasoning packets, rinsed
  • 1/3 cucumber, julienned (use a julienne peeler for easy prep)
  • 1/4 carrot, julienned (use a julienne peeler for easy prep)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
  • 1 tbsp gochujang
  • Coriander, to garnish
  • Ready-to-eat seaweed, to garnish
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish

Combine all base ingredients in a heatproof bowl/container. Pour boiling water till all ingredients are covered well. Cover and wait for 3-5mins. Remove cover, mix to ensure gochujang is well dissolved. Add garnishes and serve.

 

Nutritional Analysis

Provided by nutritionist Krystle.

Kimchi is traditionally used as a side dish in Korea, but has gained popularity all over Asia because of its unique spicy and sour taste as well as its health promoting properties.
Kimchi is made from fermented and salted vegetables such as Napa Cabbage and Korean Radishes. It is low in calories and high in vitamin A and C. But one of the highlights of kimchi is the fact that it is fermented — which makes it a good source of probiotics and promotes a healthy gut.

The main probiotic present in Kimchi is Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB). It plays a role in treating diarrhoea and boosts the immune system, reduces serum cholesterol levels and blood pressure, prevents bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections. Probiotics is also very important for the control of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Let us not forget how other key ingredients of making kimchi such as cruciferous vegetables, garlic, ginger, red pepper powder etc are very healthy functional foods. It contains antioxidants and phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties.

Another femented ingredient used in this dish is none other than the good ol’ tempeh. Packed full of nutrition and protein, and is easy to digest thanks the fermentation process. Phytic acid in the soybeans has been broken down during fermentation, which in turns helps to improve digestion and absorption of the nutrients. Also rich in probiotics such as bifidobacteria, it also promotes good gut microbiota.

If you have concerns about bloating, flatulence, indigestion, or is suffering from IBS, IBD and even Chron’s Disease, consuming more fermented food provides an easy alternative natural treatment. Not only does it benefits people who has gut issues, it also benefit any regular healthy person as health maintenance.

Prebiotic, on the other hand are like food for the Probiotics. If you are already eating a whole foods plant based diet, chances are you are getting most of your natural source of prebiotic – oligosaccharides fiber! They passed through the system undigested by enzymes and ended up in the colon — perfect fuel to be fermented by probiotics/good bacteria to continue to thrive in your gut. Some of the top prebiotic sources are garlic, onions, leeks, bananas etc.

What about dairy based fermented foods? Although LAB present in the yoghurt actually helps to alleviate some of the symptoms of lactose intolerances, however, if your main symptom of diarrhoea stems from Lactose, it is not wise to get your probiotics from fermented dairy products like yoghurt and cheeses. Other plant based sources that do not stimulate your intolerances like kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso are better source of probiotics and sometimes even prebiotics!

Sodium is high in this dish due to the kimchi, gochujang and soy sauce. So take less soup or skip one of the sauces.

This recipe fulfils the following recommended daily amounts (RDA) for healthy adults aged 18-60 years old. Note that percentages will differ among individuals. (Source: Health Hub SG)

  • 38.5% of protein for males, 45% of protein for females
  • Around 50% of iron for males, 20% of iron for females
  • Around 21% of fiber
  • 11% of calcium
  • 21% of Vitamin A
  • 10% of Vitamin C (note that some will be lost due to heat)

Thanks for reading this series of Veganuary No-Cook recipes. Wish you continued good health for the whole of 2018!

VEGANUARY RECIPES: NO-COOK ONE-POT NOODLES SERIES 2

The second instalment of my Veganuary series on no-cook one-pot noodles. This series is meant to help those who are not yet confident in cooking, too busy to cook, or when you want a hot homemade meal but have no access to a stove. Read the first part here. Nutritionist Krystle will give a nutritional analysis at the end.

This recipes may need a bit of food prep if you want to make it as fast as possible. Food prep simply means preparing certain ingredients in advance to cut down on meal preparation time. Refer to my guide on food prep and basics of cooking. I do not recommend meat products to be used in this method. Boiling water may not be able to bring up the internal temperature of meats to a safe range to kill harmful bacteria.

Like miso, tom yum paste is a condiment I use often as it is flavourful and easy to use. For most brands, you just need to stir it in hot water to make a tasty soup. We can get vegan ones from vegetarian grocery shops or Chinese vegetarian eateries. Note that most common tom yum sauces contain fish sauce. Here I’m using the same brand as my tom yum pasta recipe. This recipe is not a traditional Thai dish, but it is more of a quick way to get a hot, balanced and filling meal.

Ingredients that can be “cooked” with boiling water.

Ingredients used

Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe, where I purchased and their prices. All of them are common items I use in daily meals.

Try to get fresh produce from wet markets for better quality.

NO-COOK TOM YUM RICE NOODLES

Base ingredients:

  • 1 – 1.5 tbsp tom yam paste (Amount depends on brand, some brands are saltier.)
  • A large handful (60g) of pea sprouts (Packaged pea sprouts only need a quick rinse thus they are convenient to use.)
  • 1 serving (65g) red rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup (65g) cooked chickpeas, drained (I used rinsed canned chickpeas, try to cook your own from dried beans, it’s cheaper + healthier. Cooked beans can be frozen to keep longer.)
  • 8-10 (65g) cooked tempeh slices (Tempeh tastes great pan-fried with strong condiments, more tempeh recipes here. Cooked tempeh can last up to a week in fridge.)
  • 1/4 carrot, julienned (Use a julienne peeler to shred it fast.)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeds removed, sliced
  • 1/2 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 cm leek, sliced thinly (Replace with coriander as garnish if you don’t take alliums.)

Add last:

  • 2-5 tbsp coconut milk (Amount depends on your taste – the more the tastier.)
  • Juice from 1 lime, to garnish

Bring water to a boil in a kettle. Combine all base ingredients in a large heatproof bowl/container. Pour boiling water till all ingredients are covered well. Cover and wait for 5mins. Dissolve the tom yum paste. Add garnishes and serve hot.


To prevent lime seeds from dropping, press against a spoon while squeezing.

Nutritional Analysis

Nutritional breakdown by nutritionist Krystle:

This recipe fulfils the following recommended daily amounts (RDA) for healthy adults aged 18-60 years old. Note that percentages will differ among individuals. (Source: Health Hub SG)

  • 38.5% of protein for males, 45% of protein for females
  • Around 65% of iron for males, 33.15% of iron for females
  • Around 47% of fiber
  • 13.7% of calcium
  • 105% of Vitamin A
  • 257% of Vitamin C (note that some will be lost due to heat)

Krystle’s comments:

A hearty warm bowl of noodles feels like a comfort food for all but at the same time gives you important nutrients and energy needs to keep you going! This recipe is nutritionally balanced and healthier than most of the hawker food out there. The veggies give high fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. If you are watching your cholesterol levels, use low-fat coconut milk.

The key ingredients used has several health promoting factors.

Red Cargo Rice Vermicelli

– Higher in Fiber. It keeps your cholesterol and blood sugar in check and it’s definitely a healthier choice compared to normal white rice vermicelli.

– Contains antioxidants especially zinc. Zinc is important for normal cell division and growth, maintains your immune system and fights against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

Tempeh

-Tempeh is a healthy and delicious protein source. You can easily substitute meat using tempeh without the artery clogging saturated fat.

-Although it can be naturally higher in fat, it contains Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) which are the good essential fat. PUFA also help to control cholesterol levels.

– It is also high in trace minerals like maganese, phosphorus and copper, which are important for normal bodily metabolism and functions.

– As it is made using fermentation, it is highly digestible and therefore helps in the absorption of other key nutrients present in tempeh.

-If you want a great meat substitute high in good quality protein, Tempeh is the way to go. You can use various marinating methods/recipes to make it more palatable and at the same time enjoy the health benefits it brings.

Chickpeas

– Chickpeas are a legume and thus are high in many nutrients, like protein and fiber, folate, and minerals such as iron and phosphorus.

– For dried legumes, they should be soaked in water for few hours before cooking. The soaking water must be discarded. This is to reduce phytic acid which may cause digestive upsets (bloating, irritation) in some people and to increase the availability of nutrients.

Cooking method

– This cooking method is similar to blanching, where plant ingredients are immersed in boiling water to be cooked briefly before removing.

– This helps retain more of certain nutrients than other high heat methods like frying or baking. Another similar way to minimise nutrient loss is steaming.

Next in the series will feature an “instant” kimchi udon recipe. Stay tuned!

Veganuary Recipes: No-Cook One-Pot Noodles Series

Veganuary is a movement from the UK that encourages people to start a new year on a healthy note. Participants try a vegan lifestyle (to the degree that they are comfortable with) for a month till 31st Jan. If you’re trying it out, or just wish to change your eating habits this year, here’s a method to make a meal that’s incredibly easy without cooking and it’s not salad!

I’ll be posting as a series of 3 recipes this month. My nutritionist friend Krystle will calculate the nutritional breakdown for all 3 recipes in this series.

Making an “instant’ meal

If you have access to boiling water, you can prepare a decent balanced meal. No stove top or oven cooking needed put it together. I make these type of meals in 2 situations:

  1. At previous workplaces located far from affordable vegetarian stalls.
  2. When travelling in areas where clean and cheap vegan food is unavailable.
Just need to add boiling water and cover for 5 minutes.

Sounds like cup noodles, but don’t worry, it is way healthier than that. But like everything else, it has pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Fast way to make a hot meal.
  • Way more nutritious and filling than convenience meals.
  • Portable. Simply keep in a container (must be suitable for holding hot food) and add boiling water when you want to eat.
  • Customisable.

Cons:

  • Not all ingredients will turn out tasty with this method.
  • Still need to wash, cut and pre-cook certain ingredients.
  • Boiling water is preferred (ie, water that’s just boiled). Hot water may not have enough heat to soften the carbs and other harder ingredients.

Firstly, my definition of a balanced meal is one that has carbohydrates (preferably complex carbs), vitamins (mainly veggies) and protein (from legumes, tempeh, tofu or wheat).

Secondly, using ingredients that can be cooked thoroughly with boiling water is most important. That means softer items, unless you truly don’t mind eating hard and half raw things.

Here’s a quick list of items that can work, all are available from various supermarkets and wet markets:

Carbs:

  • Soft thin noodles (brown rice noodles, certain brands of tung hoon)
  • Instant wheat noodles (for healthier option, buy those that have whole grains and are baked not fried)
  • Cooked rice
  • Cooked starchy plants (sweet potato, potato, pumpkin)
  • Instant oats

Plants:

  • Soft leafy greens (spinach, coriander, bak choy, etc. Avoid stems in certain veggies like kai lan)
  • Cooked hard veggies (broccoli, cauliflower)
  • Plants that are edible raw (tomato, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini)
  • Pickled or fermented veggies (kimchi, achar)

Protein:

  • Packaged silken tofu (all packaged tofu are ready to eat)
  • Soft dried soy products (Thin beancurd skin, tau pok)
  • Cooked legumes (cooked lentils, canned beans, etc)
  • Seitan (dried Japanese types or canned ready-to-eat types, those are available from NTUC)

I generally avoid putting the container into the fridge when bringing to office. I’ll always keep it in a thermal bag to keep it as cool as possible. Because it brings down the temperature, which causes the items to not cook fully after filling with boiling water. Thus, I avoid coconut milk based items and fresh market tofu, as they can spoil fast in our room temperature.

Ingredients list

Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe, where I purchased and their prices. Most of them (except the noodles) are also common items I use in daily meals.

For fresh veggies, try to purchase them from wet markets as they are much fresher and sometimes cheaper. Prices will vary depending on stall.
Use a large bowl or container to prevent hot water from spilling.

 

RECIPE: NO COOK MISO NOODLES

  • 1 serving instant wheat noodles, no seasoning packet needed (I used Koka purple wheat as it’s non-fried and partial wholegrain, some NTUCs sell it without seasoning packets.)
  • 2-3 bunch (50g) spinach, stems removed (spinach stems are usually too tough to chew.)
  • Half block (150g) silken tofu  (I used sprouted organic one from NTUC.)
  • 10g beancurd skin, rinsed (Rinsing helps to remove sulphates which are used in certain brands.)
  • 1 heaping tbsp white miso (Some miso pastes have bonito or fish, always check before buying.)
  • Small handful (50g) enoki mushroom (Other mushrooms may not be fully cooked with this method, certain mushrooms cannot be eaten raw.)
  • 30g carrot, julienned (Use a julienne peeler to save time.)
  • Chopped spring onions, to garnish
  • White pepper, to garnish
  • 1 tsp sesame oil, to garnish
  • Ready-to-eat seaweed, to garnish

Bring water to a boil in a kettle. Combine noodles, spinach, beancurd skin, miso, enoki and carrot in a large heatproof bowl/container. Pour boiling water till all ingredients are covered well. Cover and wait for 5mins. Dissolve the miso. Add garnishes and serve hot.

Don’t let the noodles sit for too long, it will get soggy.

 

Nutritional Information

Krystle is a freelance plant-based nutritionist and group fitness instructor, check her out here.

Here’s Krystle’s nutritional breakdown of the dish (source: myfitnesspal) :

Nutritional comments:

This is a perfect example of a healthy, balanced meal. It has a balanced amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat and other important vitamins, minerals and fiber. It has no trans fat and no cholesterol – both are known to increase risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Vegetables and whole wheat noodles helps to promote good blood sugar control and keeps you full for a longer time.

Tofu and Green Leafy vegetables are contains calcium and iron. Although the bioavailability of iron and calcium in plant based foods is not as high as animal based foods, it can still be a part of a healthy diet without the hormones and saturated fats from animals based foods. You can increase iron absorption by having a fruit high in vitamin C such as oranges as dessert. Limit your tea and coffee intake especially during your meal times as it further prevents the absorption of iron.
Spinach’s calcium is not readily absorbed in our body due to the presence of oxalic acid. However, it should be the least of our worries as we should always eat a varied diet to get enough calcium from many different healthy sources. Other calcium containing foods includes other green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes, chia seeds, fortified soy milk etc. Calcium from legumes are more easily absorbed than those from leafy greens.

Remember to get enough sunlight to boost your vitamin D levels to increase the absorption of calcium. Exercising regularly also strengthen our bones and muscles.

The carrots and spinach is high in Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. It is an antioxidant that is great for your eyes and skin.

Sodium is high in this dish due to the amount of miso used. If you are watching your blood pressure, use low sodium condiments or drink less of the soup. You may use more spices and herbs like nutritional yeast, black pepper, spring onion, parsley, basil, mint which helps to add flavour without needing additional sodium.

This dish roughly provides the following recommended daily amounts (RDA) for healthy adults aged 18-60 years old. Note that percentages will differ among individuals. (Source: Health Hub SG)

  • 36% of protein for males, 42% of protein for females
  • 85% of iron for males, 28% of iron for females
  • 33% – 40% of fiber
  • 115% of calcium
  • 114% of Vitamin A

Next in the series will feature a Tom Yum rice noodles recipe made with the same method together with Krystle’s nutritional analysis, stay tuned!

 

YouTube Channel Launch – Kueh Bahulu Recipe Video

Happy New Year!

A new year, a new beginning! 2018 marks the start of my first ever YouTube channel. In 2016 some friends had already suggested YouTube since I’m trained in video and animation. But I was so occupied with work at a design studio that I didn’t have much free time. It was only when I started freelancing in 2017 (even though the workload is the same), I had the flexibility to take on new personal projects.

Hope to bring more engaging content to anyone interested in healthier foods, as I know people generally like viewing than reading. Many recipes also require techniques that are best shown visually. Please like, subscribe and enable notifications to my channel to be notified when new videos are out. Currently planning to release one video per month, that’s the best I can do as I need to prioritise my clients’ works, but the wait will be worth it! I’ll still have regular 2-3 times monthly blog posts here, so don’t worry, I won’t be leaving here 🙂

In some Southeast Asian countries, kueh (or kuih) is a generic Malay (or Bahasa) word for snack, usually referring to traditional snacks made with wheat or rice flour, coconut, tapioca, sticky rice and pandan.

Kueh bahulu is a bite-sized sponge cake quite similar to French madeleines but with much simpler ingredients, in fact it’s been called the Asian madeleine by some. It was chosen to be the first video recipe as this snack is close to every Singaporean’s heart. I’ve never seen an eggless recipe for it yet. It’s something that every neighbourhood bakery has, packed in small plastic bags, usually sold for a dollar or two. Also a regular sight at Malay or Chinese familys’ snack tables during Hari Raya or Chinese New Year. If you don’t take eggs for whatever reason, you won’t miss out on the nostalgia with this recipe. Here I used aquafaba (chickpea water) to replace the eggs and tweaked the traditional recipe to maximise rising. Since there’s a limit to the degree of fluffiness achievable with aquafaba, it’s not as airy as the egg ones. Still it’s a soft, slightly chewy and delightful snack reminiscent of childhood.


Kueh Bahulu (makes 18-22 depends on mould)

  • 90g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 90g raw sugar
  • Aquafaba from 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence/paste
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/355F.
  2. Grease and flour your mould(s). If you’re using the traditional aluminium one, preheat it in oven for about 20mins after greasing, then flour it after removing from oven.
  3. Put flour and sugar into metal pans and place in oven. This is to remove moisture so it keeps longer.
  4. Using an electric mixer, whip aquafaba and vinegar in a large bowl till soft to stiff peaks. Took me about 15mins on high speed.
  5. Remove flour and sugar from oven.
  6. Add 1/3 of the sugar into the whipped aquafaba, and whip at medium speed till just combined.
  7. Repeat till all sugar is used up. Beat till mixture ribbons, about 10-15mins on high speed.
  8. Add oil, vanilla and mix on low for few seconds till you see no more patches of both.
  9. Sieve the heated flour into the mixture 1/3 at a time. Using a whisk, mix till just combined.
  10. Repeat till all flour is used up. Do not over mix.
  11. Pour batter into your mould(s). Tap the moulds lightly few times to remove air bubbles. Bake for 15mins or till golden brown, rotating the pan at around 8mins.
  12. Repeat till all batter is used up. If you’re using the same mould, you will need to grease and flour again before pouring the batter.
  13. Let kueh cool in mould for about 5mins or until it is easy to remove, then use toothpick to release it. Let cool on a rack completely before storing.

Notes:

  • Use a non-stick metal mould instead, the traditional aluminium one sticks too easily and is very hard to clean :/
  • Don’t keep sugar in the oven too long as it’ll melt. About 10-15mins of heating on fan mode is good enough.
  • Bake longer for more crisp and brown exterior.
  • Keeps well in fridge for 1week, not recommended to keep at room temperature (in the tropics) for more than 2 days.
  • The kueh will harden in the fridge, best to toast it lightly for few mins before eating.

If you enjoyed the video, please like, share and subscribe for more! Thank you SO MUCH for your support over the past years! I’m really excited to bring more varied recipes to different platforms, hope to show more people the beauty of vegan food! May your 2018 be full of blessings, health and happiness.