Kimchi jjigae

Korean food is extremely popular now due to the Kpop wave. Any type of Asian cuisine that’s mercilessly spicy will definitely appeal to Singaporeans! Boneless Kitchen is our go-to for vegan Korean food made without alliums. Sadly Boneless is too far for me, so when cravings hit, here’s a rather straightforward recipe for a comforting, hearty stew for monsoon season.

Kimchi usually has fish sauce, but luckily for us, NTUC has one brand that is 100% vegan (has alliums) and very tasty. If you like to make your own, check out my (not the most authentic but easy) recipe here. It’s fun, full of active probiotics and you can customise it to your liking!

I didn’t have gochugaru so I used Mofo Gun Powder from Souley Green. Remember to use MORETHANVEGGIES for 15% off before 9 Dec when you shop there!
My trusty old stock pot. Vegan belacan gives the fishy pungency.

kimchi-jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1/2 cup kimchi, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/8 cup kimchi brine
  • 4 pcs shiitake mushroom, cut into half, stems removed (keep for stock)
  • ½ block of firm tofu, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 3 green onions (chopped)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes, available from Korean supermarkets, try chilli powder if you don’t have)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste, available at NTUC)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2-3 cups of stock (see below)

For stock (makes about 2-3 cups):

  • 1/2 tbsp vegan belacan (from neighbourhood vegetarian grocery shops)
  • 3-4 pcs shiitake stems
  • 15x3cm dried kelp (from dried goods shops in market/neighbourhood areas)
  • 3 thin slices of ginger
  • 3 green onion white stems, cleaned
  • 3 cloves garlic, roots removed, crushed slightly
  • 4-5 cups water

Directions:

  1. Make stock:

Put all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20mins over low-medium heat till liquid is reduced to 1/3 or half. Remove from heat and strain.

2. Make stew:

In a pot, sautee ginger and kimchi till kimchi softens. Add gochugaru, gochujang, mushrooms, kimchi brine and stir till ingredients are evenly coated red. Add stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 mins. Add sesame oil and cut tofu on top. Simmer covered over low heat for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Garnish with spring onions. Serve hot with rice.


Notes:

  • For variety, try adding seitan, other soft soy items like tau pok, tau kee, other mushrooms like enoki, oyster, king oyster, shimeji etc.
  • For my friends who can’t take alliums – unfortunately this recipe needs gochujang, I have not seen any brand that is allium-free. Thus this recipe I didn’t omit alliums as onion & garlic are quite essential in Korean cuisine. If you ever find allium-free gochujang, please let me know and I can try a new recipe without alliums.

Chinese-Style Cold Tofu (凉拌豆腐)

Happy World Vegan Day! Today is celebration of compassion, as well as morethanveggies.sg’s one year anniversary. I’ve come a long way since starting a simple tumblr 5 years ago to share foods I like. THANK YOU everyone for your support all these years!

I realised that I barely have many tofu recipes here when tofu is a staple in the Asian vegan lifestyle. Thus I’d love to share this recipe that’s my favourite way to have silken tofu – and no cooking required, just 3 basic ingredients!

Cold tofu is eaten in many South Asian countries like China, Japan and Korea. I’m most familiar with the Chinese style of cold tofu as I grew up eating that. My grandfather would have it regularly for breakfast. Although he was a meat-lover, cold tofu was his favourite dish. Many times I served this to other omni friends and they loved the smoothness, umami and simplicity of it.

Despite the name, its usually served at room temperature or slightly warm, but seldom cold like its just removed from the fridge. Chinese traditional medicine believes that cold foods affect digestive health. I always blanche the tofu to warm it slightly before serving.

This dish simply silken tofu in soy sauce and sesame oil, then you can add toppings. Even if you don’t have any suitable toppings at hand, you can still enjoy it in the most basic form. Because of the simplicity, it’s important to choose quality ingredients.

3 basic ingredients.

A good soy sauce should only have 4 ingredients and absolutely no MSG – water, salt, soy and wheat. A good sesame oil should emit a strong, delicious fragrance right after opening the bottle. For tofu in simple dishes, I go for the organic sprouted type from NTUC as it’s closest to the nigari tofu (露水豆腐) from my “home”town. Tofu is traditionally made only with nigari which is a natural extract from seawater. Such types of tofu has a beautiful mineral taste that reminds me of sea breeze. Sadly most tofu sold in Singapore are modern ones made with GDL and other coagulants. They are not only less nutritious, but also not as smooth, springy and tasty as nigari tofu. People who say tofu is bland, I can totally understand them – most of us have never experienced the beauty of handmade nigari tofu.

Let tofu sit on sieve over a plate to drain excess water.

Chinese-style cold tofu

Basic Ingredients:

  • 1 block tofu
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Boiling water (optional)

Toppings I used:

  • Chopped spring onions
  • Sliced green chilli
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Kicap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • Korean seaweed shreds
  • Ginger
  • Chilli sauce
  • Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce
  1. Place tofu on sieve and cut into 8 parts. Immerse sieve and tofu in boiling water for 1 min. Remove and let tofu drain excess water on sieve for 5 mins. This step is optional, see notes.
  2. Add soy sauce and sesame oil to a bowl or small plate. Place tofu into it. Add toppings and serve.
  3. This dish can be made hours in advance and served cold. The longer you let the tofu sit in the sauce the tastier it gets!

Notes:

  • Step 1 is to kill bacteria and warm up the tofu without cooking. If you’re using wet market tofu (the type sold in a tub of water with no packaging), it’s more hygienic to blanche before eating. Because tofu can release a lot of water and that dilutes the sauce, let it sit on a sieve to drain.
  • If you don’t mind eating it cold and will consume it immediately, step 1 can be skipped.
  • If you’re making it in advance and only serving it hours later or tomorrow, you must drain it much longer for 10+ minutes. The longer tofu sits, the more water it releases and that can dilute the taste and spoil the look of the dish.
  • If your topping is quite salty, use less soy sauce.
Clockwise: Spring onions + sesame + kicap manis, Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce + spring onions, Korean seaweed + ginger and chilli sauce + sliced green chilli.

Marmite tempeh

I like Marmite – only in certain applications. My favourite is with thickly spread vegan butter. This recipe was inspired by Eight Treasure’s Marmite Ribs, a dish my family had during Chinese New Year and everyone (even the omnis) loved it. And because Eight Treasures is so far from my place and I can’t digest mock meats well, I came up with this recipe. Also because I bought a huge jar of Marmite on impulse and needed to find ways to use it!

Savoury, moist and high protein.

Marmite on it’s own, has a terrifying bitterness to my taste. Like their slogan “Love it or hate it”, I love it when used in dishes but hate it on it’s own. It’s got a unique concentrated umami flavour as a result of yeast fermentation that does not occur in other condiments. But the bitterness can be overwhelming when used too much, so I usually add sour and sweet flavours to cushion it. When used correctly, it gives the most lip-smacking savouriness to proteins with some tang and sweet aftertaste.

Tempeh can be found in Singapore at wet markets (at stalls selling mixed goods) or heartland supermarkets like Giant or NTUC (usually in refrigerated section near the tofu). This recipe has 4 main ingredients, is quick and easy to make and keeps well in fridge or freezer. Great protein item to make in advance for lunch boxes.

Remember to flip to cook both sides.

Marmite tempeh

  • 2 slices ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 block tempeh, cut to square pieces (I used the 200g block from NTUC).
  • 2/3 tbsp Marmite (or Vegemite)
  • 1 heaping tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp of Chinese cooking wine (or other cooking wines, optional)
  • 1/3 cup stock/water
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice, or to taste

Mix Marmite, sugar, cooking wine, water in a bowl till Marmite is dissolved. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat, add ginger. Sautee till fragrant. Add tempeh and flip to coat evenly with oil. Lower heat to low-medium, pour liquid mixture in and mix to coat tempeh. Simmer till liquid is thickened and reduced, flipping halfway to ensure even cooking. Removed from heat, squeeze lemon/lime juice to taste and mix well before serving. Let cool before storing.


Perfect in a sandwich with vegan butter from Peace of Cheese and some chilli sauce!

Notes:

  • I personally prefer to cut tempeh thin as I find it holds flavour better.
  • Cooking wine helps to boost umami flavours in protein dishes, if you don’t have or don’t take alcohol, simply omit. Ginger here also has the same role.
  • If you’re really averse to Marmite, use soy sauce/curry paste/tom yam paste or any strong flavoured condiment of your choice instead.
  • This tempeh will be quite salty if you eat it on its own, as I made it to be a sandwich filler. Reduce Marmite amount or increase tempeh if you want less salt.
  • I find cooked tempeh can dry out in the fridge, so I usually reheat it by frying lightly on both sides with a bit of liquid (oil or water).

Check out more tempeh recipes here.

Garlic Braised Eggplant

A well-loved dish from North China. Soft and tender eggplant pieces packed with umami and full of garlic fragrance. Like many North Chinese dishes, it’s a prime example of how the most simple ingredients can transform into something amazing in the right hands.

Eggplant is not an easy plant to prepare. Bland and somewhat ‘slimy’ on it’s own, it needs a good amount of seasoning to flavour it fully, and oil to tenderise it. This dish can easily burn, practise is required to control heat and timing. Don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect the first time.

This recipe is from my mother, although I can’t make it as good as her, I think it’s good enough to share!

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Since ingredients are simple, more care is needed in choosing and preparing ingredients. Choose eggplants that are smooth, shiny, long and slender. Cut them to bite sized so each piece can be fully infused with fragrance. I realised the thicker the eggplant, the larger the seeds. Crush the garlic first to release a stronger flavour. Use a neutral flavoured oil with quality soy sauce. A good soy sauce should only have 4 ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt and water.


GARLIC EGGPLANT RECIPE

  • 2 medium sized eggplant, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp oil (to use less oil, refer to notes)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add garlic, fry till fragrant and lightly browned. Take note not to burn it.
2. Add eggplant and soy sauce. Flip and stir for 10 seconds till eggplant is evenly coated with oil.
3. Lower the heat and cover the wok, letting eggplant simmer for 20 seconds. Then remove the cover and stir contents for 5 seconds. This is to prevent burning during braising. Repeat this step 4 more times. Keep an eye on the liquid level, take care not to burn it.
4. When most liquid is absorbed and eggplant is soft, turn off the heat and serve.


 

Notes:
1. To use less oil, replace 0.5 tbsp oil with 1/4 cup of stock. Mix the soy sauce and stock together then add at step 2. You can use even less oil with a non stick pan. Usually less oil can lighten the taste a lot, so you may need to find other ways to compensate.
2. If your eggplant is starting to stick to your pan, stir it quickly or add stock/water one tbsp at a time. Do not add too much water as it will dilute the flavours.
3. Garlic can’t be replaced in this dish without changing the flavour. If you cannot take garlic, replace it with 1 tbsp sugar and 1.5 tbsp Chinese vinegar. Sweet and sour eggplant (糖醋茄子) is also a classic Northern dish that is incredibly delicious.

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To complete this Northern Chinese style meal, I had it with a type bread called wo wo tou. It’s a steamed corn bread with a hole in the middle that you can stuff with savoury foods. Perfect way to soak up the extra sauce.DSC02353

Garlic Tempeh Crumbles

Sure we don’t have a good affordable selection of vegan dairy or mock meat products in Singapore – but we have a protein that’s very amazing but often under appreciated and still rather unknown globally. Tempeh made fresh locally, the traditional Indonesian way of fermentation in a simpoh air leaf resulting in a soft white coat – so freshly fermented that it is still warm when you put your hand into the basket at our pasars (markets) in the morning. More digestible, more protein and fiber than tofu, all at 65 cents for a pack weighing roughly 80g. Note that it’s perfectly normal for traditional tempeh to have slight mold at the edges; simply pinch them off before cooking. Finish them asap as they will continue to ferment even in the fridge. Or you can heat them after buying if you plan to make them last longer.

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As versatile as tofu, yet many eateries here sell the most unexciting version – merely deep fried with little seasoning. This simple recipe just needs mainly garlic and tempeh bits. Other than having an earthy tang on its own, tempeh absorbs and magnifies flavours of other ingredients. Those who don’t take garlic can still make it delicious with any taste – giving ingredient like spices and mushrooms.

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Traditionally tempeh is cooked as slices but I think crumbling them gives more surface area to absorb more flavours. Good on its own or topped on anything from breads to rice. I made this recipe saltier to use as topping, hence reduce salt if having as a dish.

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Garlic Tempeh Crumbles


You’ll need:

roughly 80g tempeh crumbled into bits .
2 cloves chopped garlic .
1 tbsp of any vegetable cooking oil .
½ tsp salt, or to taste .
Ground black pepper, to taste .

Sauté garlic with oil in a pan over medium heat. Once you smell the garlicky aroma, add tempeh and salt (any longer may burn the garlic). Continue stirring until tempeh turns golden brown. Transfer to a plate, taste and season with more salt and pepper if preferred before serving.


Topped it on oats cooked in mushroom broth for a savoury breakfast! With celery stalks for a refreshing crunch in between the garlic and black pepper.

Here’s an idea for a non – garlic version – simply replace garlic with with 3 sliced white button mushrooms and half a lemongrass stalk. Equally good or even better with the juicy mushrooms!

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