Asian food has been very welcoming to those of us who don’t eat animal products. Not only have many a hungry, traveling vegan been saved by the Indian restaurant found in the hotel phone book or the Thai restaurant spotted on the edge of town, but many of us city-dwellers are lucky to have vegetarian maki rolls, stir-fry places and Szechuan tofu all readily available to us. The East, with its religious, historic and cultural leanings that favor a plant-centered diet, is our friend. However, it’s not always smooth sailing. For one thing, Asian foods often have hidden ingredients, such as ghee (clarified butter in Indian food), fish or oyster sauce in Thai, Chinese or Japanese food: language barriers can impede a clear understanding, too, when ordering your meal. Second, often food ordered out is less fresh and greasier – in other words, less healthfully prepared – than you would do yourself. Third, aren’t we supposed to be eating out less often to save some money? Well, now that The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East: 150 Asian-Inspired Recipes – From Soba Noodles to Summer Rolls is out, you can prepare your own flavorful, healthy and deceptively simple foods from the cuisines you adore. Now that many grocery stores have great Asian sections, too, it’s no longer difficult to find these ingredients.
Co-authors Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray have traveled extensively, and Reinfeld owns Hawaii’s celebrated Blossoming Lotus restaurant, and is also the author of the award-winning Vegan Fusion World Cuisine cookbook. There recipes here represent the well-loved dishes from India, Thailand, China and Japan as well as fusion recipes from Indonesia, Korea and more. The recipes pop with bright flavors, like their Panang Curry and Tofu Tikka Masala and luscious textures, like the silky Mango Custard Pudding and Coconut Spinach Rice. Not only do the recipes emphasize fresh, healthy preparations, but they are a breeze to put together, most clocking in at thirty minutes or less with prep and cooking time included unless otherwise indicated. The recipes come with simple introductions, serving suggestions, useful tips and optional variations. This cookbook is for anyone from the novice to the experienced home cook: anyone who loves the bold, satisfying aromas and flavors at the Indian buffet or wonders how much she could improve on the sesame tofu at the local Chinese restaurant should run out and get this gem of a cookbook. I’ve only had it for a few weeks and it has already found its way into my top ten cookbook rotation. Very impressive!
This is the sort of fun-loving creation you can whip up once your kitchen is stocked with wonderfully authentic Thai ingredients like kaffir lime leaf. Try serving it along with Thai Coconut Vegetable Soup and Pad Siew.
SERVES 4 TO 6
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon diced red chile pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced, or 2 teaspoons lime zest
1 pound asparagus, stem ends trimmed
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced, optional
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the oil, garlic, ginger, green onion,
chile, and kaffir lime leaves for 2 minutes.
2. Add the asparagus and the red bell pepper, if using, and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Add the water and continue to cook for 5 more minutes or until the asparagus
is soft, but still bright green, and most of the water is evaporated.
3. Add the soy sauce and basil, stir, and remove from the heat.
Excerpted from the book The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray, published by Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2010. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com