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There are many types of tofu but the ones popular to many of us are the firm tofu and soft tofu. Countries like Korea and Japan serve a variety of them which look really enticing. I won’t get into detail about every kind of tofu but I’ll share with you my most favorite tofu dish. It’s a traditional Korean food called ‘’doenjang jjigae’’ or Korean soy bean paste. I’ve been eating this for almost a decade now, and it’s perfect for every occasion: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As a vegan, this is just one of the many recipes I can make with tofu as one of the main ingredients.
I’ve never met a Korean who doesn’t like soybean paste stew. Every time I asked Korean students about their favorite dish, 90% of time, they mention this dish. This is like a staple food in Korea, and I’m not surprise about it.
Now, let’s go back to our topic —tofu. I prepare or cook tofu in many different ways but just like everyone else, there’s one specific recipe that I always like to eat my tofu with, and it’s with a soybean paste. It’s simple, and I guarantee that you’ll never want to cook tofu the other way around.
So, what are the benefits of tofu and why is it a great alternative for meat?
Tofu is a fantastic source of protein. As if you don’t know that, don’t you? This is what tofu is famous for —protein. This is one of the main reasons why it’s a perfect substitute for meat. Meat is abundant in protein, so, to compensate with your zero-meat consumption, a product with so much protein like tofu is the answer. Aside from the richness of protein that we get from tofu, other goodness are amino acids, iron, calcium, vitamins, and minerals, all with the aim to maintain our diet balanced. Did you count how many times I mentioned tofu and protein? (chuckle)
Tofu Stew With Soybean Paste
250 grams of tofu
½ medium-sized or 1 small-sized zucchini
1 medium-sized white onion
1 scallion or some chopped spring onions
50 grams of radish (sweet potato or potato can be a substitute)
2 tbsp. of soybean paste
½ tbsp. of garlic, minced
2 cups of water
1 medium-sized green chili pepper
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp vinegar
Prepare all ingredients by washing and draining the water thoroughly
Cut the tofu, zucchini, and radish (or other solid veggies) into small cubes (about one-inch size)
Slice green pepper and onion thinly
Garlic can be minced or thinly sliced
Roughly cut the scallion or cut in small sizes if it’s spring onion
Prepare a small pot, pre-heat with some oil (about 1 tbsp)
Sauté onion, chili flakes, and soybean paste, over medium heat for 3 minutes
Add water, boil over medium high heat for 5 minutes (no need to cover the pot)
Add radish (or other solid veggies), garlic, zucchini, chili pepper, and tofu; cook for about 5 minutes over medium high heat (no need to cover the pot)
Throw in the spring onions or scallion and some vinegar
Serve with freshly cooked rice
Mushrooms are mostly present throughout the year, and for countries with four seasons, they’re plentiful in autumn. It’s amazing what you can do with mushrooms: you can simply microwave, fry, grill, sauté, or boil them. You can pretty much cook it however you like, and it’ll still taste good. But it’s important to note that not all mushrooms are edible, so be cautious coz some may contain toxins. I prepare them in several ways, and as usual, I have a favorite way of cooking mushrooms. I like to add them in pastas. It goes very well with a plant-based pasta, and there’s no need to add cheese on it.
If it sounds awful without cheese on it, you may opt in to a non-dairy cheese called Violife Parmesan Cheese or best, nutritional yeast. These are two of the parmesan cheese alternatives that I’ve personally tried so far. There’s so much information about the benefits of nutritional yeast for vegans. I suggest looking it up on the web to know more.
Before I talk about all the ingredients that I use in preparing my pasta with mushrooms, let’s dive in to the benefits of mushroom first.
Mushrooms contain a ton of essential nutrients for our body. That’s why they’re perfect substitute for meat.
No wonder why we love mushrooms, and we see them in restaurant menus and in millions of kitchens worldwide.
Mushrooms provide several important nutrients like protein, vitamins, and antioxidants —to name a few. This is why it’s one great substitute for meat. There’s a plethora of ways you can cook your mushrooms, and I’ll share with you my go-to shroom recipe.
150g-200g Pasta (short or long strand)
50g Butter or any type of cooking oil, 2-3 tbsp
3 cloves of garlic, minced or thinly sliced
1 pinch of salt
½ tbsp. soy sauce
Parmesan Cheese Substitutes: Nutritional Yeast or Viola Cheese (with parmesan taste and no dairy)
Water (for boiling the pasta)
1 tbsp. of Vegan Char Siu Sauce (if you’re not a strict vegan, you may add hoisin sauce or oyster sauce)
some basil leaves, parsley, or green onions for garnish
Some sprinkles of nutritional yeast or Violife Parmesan Cheese (no dairy)
Boil or cook the pasta, drain the hot water and pour into a boil of ice water, then keep it soaked until you’re ready to cook it with all the ingredients
Wash, Slice or Mince the garlic
Prepare the mushrooms, making sure it’s washed and drained properly before cooking
Get your fry pan ready, turn on the heat to medium high and pour in some oil or butter
Add some minced garlic, cooked for 30 seconds making sure it’s not burnt or overcooked
Add mushrooms and cook until it turns brown, for about 3 minutes or so
Add a pinch of salt, ½ tbsp. soy sauce, non-dairy cheese (optional), and vegan char siu sauce
Add pasta and mix altogether for about 3 minutes
(Optional) Garnish with some basil leaves, parsley, or thinly sliced green onions, then served
Superfood: Coconut Meat
Here comes my most favorite meat —coconut meat. There are many different types of coconut in the world. Many of them I never knew existed. In the Philippines, we are abundant in coconuts. It’s one of the essential crops and a major export of the country. In fact, the Philippines is the second largest producer of coconuts in the world.
Have you tried opening a coconut? They said I’m good at it. That’s why I almost cut my finger a year ago (chuckle). It’s one of the perks when you’re living in a tropical country like the Philippines. There’s almost no week that I don’t drink coconut water, even now that I’m in the city. It’s my water, and I can’t seem to live without it. I grew up drinking coconut water every day coz we live (my parents house) in a countryside where a coconut farm is just around the corner. My parents love it, so liking the taste of every coconut product was never forced in our household coz it’s always on our table since the very beginning. I bet you have an idea how to crack open a coconut, right? If you do, perhaps it’s the least thing you’d like to experience.
When it comes to coconut meat (I’m referring to a young coconut with greenish or orange-like outer skin), the best time to eat it is right after opening the shell. You use a spoon to scoop and just enjoy. If you wish to try the tastiest flesh inside, it has to be really soft inside. A green coconut that’s harvested when it’s young is the one that has the sweetest taste. Though it’s rare to find a really sweet coconut meat, it’s worth it coz it does wonders to your body. The benefits? Let me be honest, it doesn’t have high protein.
I find that when I eat coconut meat (especially the mature coconut flesh), I feel like I’m chewing a real meat. It sounds silly but that’s really how I see it, plus I love the taste. Two, it’s highly nutritious: high in fiber, vitamin C, minerals like iron and calcium. Though it has great health benefits, it’s important to consume it in moderation. It’s known to contain high fats and calories, so if you’re scared of gaining weight —eat modestly.