In expanding my vegan food boundaries, foraging afield searching for recipes, I found that Asian-inspired dishes readily lend themselves to meat-free eating.
Chinese and Japanese, along with Thai, of course, have been the go-to Asian cuisines for years, but now we have Filipino, Korean, Indian and Tibetan recipes to choose from. I’ve been inspired to consider some unfamiliar and obviously untried seasonings and vegetables. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that, however, I admit my assumption has been that many Asian dishes are complicated to prepare. But in my research, I’ve found plenty of simple Asian dishes with ready-to-find ingredients right here at home. Here are two flavorful, colorful, nutritious and satisfying recipes, with ingredients easily found at the local markets. Now you have a recipe with a versatile peanut sauce and another to make your own pot stickers. Enjoy!
Crunchy Thai Peanut & Quinoa Salad
Recipe minimally adapted from Frugal Vegan by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee (Cookie and Kate.com) Vegan, gluten free, and packs well for lunch. Recipe yields 4 salads.
- ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
- 1½ cups water
- 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1 cup thinly sliced snow peas or sugar snap peas (These items may be found in the frozen food section if not seasonally available in the fresh vegetable section)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
- ¼ cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts, for garnish
- ¼ cup smooth (or crunchy) peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (also available in a squeeze tube)
- ½ lime, juiced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- To cook the quinoa: First, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander under running water. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 1 ½ cups water. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer the quinoa until it has absorbed all of the water. Remove the quinoa from heat, cover the pot and let it rest for five minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: Whisk together the peanut butter and tamari until smooth (if this is difficult, microwave the mixture for up to 30 seconds to loosen it up). Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. If the mixture seems too thick to toss into the salad, whisk in a bit of water to loosen it up.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, shredded cabbage, carrot, snow peas, cilantro and green onion. Toss to combine, then pour in the peanut sauce. Toss again until everything is lightly coated. Taste, and if it doesn’t taste quite amazing yet, add a pinch of salt and toss again. Divide into individual bowls and garnish with peanuts.
- This salad keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for about four days. If you don’t want your chopped peanuts to get soggy, store them separately from the rest and garnish just before serving.
Notes: MAKE IT VEGAN: Use maple syrup (or agave nectar) instead of honey. MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Be sure to use certified gluten-free tamari, not soy sauce.
Gingered Brussels Sprout and Shitake Pot Stickers
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated with a Microplane grater (or get ground ginger in a squeeze container at the market)
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking
- 1 medium shallot, fine dice
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 2 cups sliced Brussels sprouts
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 25 wonton wrappers
- To make the dipping sauce: Whisk the tamari, maple syrup, ginger, green onion, and sesame seeds together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- To make the potstickers: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots. Stir and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Stir and sauté the mushrooms until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts, garlic, and ginger, and stir. Season everything with salt and pepper. Keep stirring the filling until the Brussels sprouts are bright green and slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and allow the filling to cool slightly.
- Set out a small bowl of water. To assemble the pot stickers, divide the vegetable filling among the wonton wrappers, placing about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Take one filled wonton wrapper and dip your finger in the bowl of water. Moisten two sides of the wrapper, fold all sides together, and pinch along the edge to form a seal. Repeat with the remaining filled wrappers.
- Wipe the sauté pan and heat a thin slick of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the pot stickers in batches until they’re golden brown on all sides, about one full minute per side. Add more oil to the pan as needed to finish cooking all the pot stickers.
- Serve the pot stickers hot with the dipping sauce on the side.
Note: Check the ingredients on your wonton wrappers if you want to keep this recipe vegan. Supermarkets are usually hit or miss with vegan wonton wrappers.