Vegan Mofo 18: R is for raw buckwheat rolls with Red Bean filling

Sweetened red bean paste (anko) opens the door to East Asia, where it is used in a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean desserts from soups to pancakes to ice creams. I have not worked with red beans before so I thought I’d give it a go. Note that red beans, also known as azuki or adzuki beans, should not be confused with red kidney beans, which are much larger in size.

Recently I came across a very inviting recipe for raw buckwheat cinnamon rolls which looked just like swiss rolls. Currently in a buckwheat phase, I combined the idea of a buckwheat roll with anko filling, thinking that the earthy buckwheat flavor would be a nice complement the sweet anko. In the original recipe, 100% raw groats were used, but I decided soaking and sprouting would be better on the digestive system.

Red bean paste generally comes in two consistencies: chunky (tsubu-an) and pureed (koshi-an). I went for a chunkier filling as I prefer more bite to the rolls. Most recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of beans to sugar but I drastically reduced the sugar amount, because the rolls had dates in them and I didn’t want to overdo the sugar.

But it still turned out quite a sugar-rush though. Buckwheat + dates + sweetened red beans, that makes a triple carbo-load! Also the rolls lacked textural contrast as everything was quite pasty (somewhat like energy balls). On hindsight, chop nuts such as walnuts studded on top would add a lovely crunch. Even better, use crushed pistachios for a red-and-green festive look that would be perfect for Christmas. Overall I love the concept of the buckwheat rolls but the filling needs tweaking.

Raw Buckwheat Rolls with Red Bean Filling (recipe-in-progress)
Makes 10 small rolls.
Vegan.
Buckwheat Rolls adapted from Vegan Fusion; Red Bean (Anko) Paste adapted from Just Hungry.

Ingredients
Raw & Sprouted Buckwheat Rolls

  • 2/3 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 8 dates), coarsely chopped

Red Bean Paste (will make extra paste)

  • 2/3 cup (125g) red beans (adzuki beans)
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. Day 1: soak buckwheat. Two days before making the rolls, soak the buckwheat overnight in water.
  2. Day 2: sprout buckwheat & soak red beans. The next day, drain the buckwheat and rinse well under running water to remove the slime. Once the water runs clear, leave the groats in the sieve and place it away from direct sunlight. Allow the groats to sprout for one day. Also, soak the red beans overnight in water.
  3. Day 3: make the rolls.
  4. First prepare the red bean paste. Drain the beans and put them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, boil for a minute then drain the beans. Repeat the boiling and rinsing three times. (Apparently this helps to get rid of the impurities and give a cleaner taste). Then add water again, just enough to cover the beans, and boil for about one hour until the beans can be squashed easily with the back of a spoon. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Add sugar and mix well. If it is too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid back in. Once sugar has completely mixed in, pour into a container to cool down.
  5. Meanwhile as the red beans are boiling, prepare the buckwheat paste. Place sprouted buckwheat and dates into the food processor and pulse until slightly crumbled and doughy, but with some bits of buckwheat groats still visible (I may have overprocessed mine!). Then spread dough out onto a parchment paper and press the dough into a square/rectangle that is roughly ¼-inch thick.
  6. Spread the red bean paste over all of the dough except for about 1/2-inch along the far long edge.
  7. Roll the dough up by making a small fold along the near edge, pressing it down, peeling back the parchment, and continuing to roll in the same way, making sure to press the whole thing together as you go so that you have a tight roll. Refrigerate for a few hours to harden.
  8. For a clean slice, use a thread to cut into 1-inch pieces.

 

Vegan Mofo 12: N is for buckwheat Nori rolls

I did not intend on posting about these Nori rolls because they were unphotogenic and falling apart, or simply put, not “blog-worthy.” Then I caught myself; this blog was started first and foremost as a record of my kitchen experiments. Although it’s great to have a readership, it is no longer meaningful when you write for the audience rather than for yourself. At the very least, sharing my mistakes may help others to. And so this post was resurrected.

You probably need no introduction to nori. Apart from being the nickname of Kim Kardashian and Kayne West’s baby, it is the umami paper-like stuff that holds your sushi together. More scientifically, it is red algae fronds (P. yezoensis and P. tenera) harvested from the inter- and sub-tidal ocean zones, then pressed into thin sheets and dried with a machine that resembles a paper-making machine. In addition to being used as sushi wrappers, they can be also be deep-fried or baked and enjoyed as an addictive crispy snack.

But back to basics. As a sushi lover, it only makes sense to learn how to make sushi rolls. Not only can you save money, you can customize the fillings to your hearts content. There are many good videos sushi-rolling tutorials on youtube including this (includes both normal and inside-out rolls), or if you prefer a step-by-step guide you can check this out (note that ingredients used are not vegan).

For the fillings I went with buckwheat, carrot, jicama and tofu. Making sushi rolls is not the time to be greedy; I had too much of the fillings and the rolls wouldn’t stick at the seams. They fell apart completely and eventually I had to turn the sushi rolls into a sushi bowl. Still tasty though!

Using buckwheat in place of sushi rice may or may not be a good idea. It has a natural slime so which helps the groats stick together just like sticky sushi rice. However the groats itself are quite large so which reduces the amount of other fillings that can be put into the sushi. The solution? These rolls made with Sticky Quinoa Rice sounds like the answer.

Meanwhile, these are some fantastic Tofu Rolls I had at New Green Pastures Cafe a few weeks ago. The veggies were lightly cooked so that they retained some crunch, and were accompanied with a very tasty shallot sauce reminiscent of that used in popiahs. I was actually inspired by these rolls hence the similar ingredients used in my version.

New Green Pastures Cafe
Address: #04-22, Fortune Centre, 190 Middle Road, Singapore 188979


I am in the process of revamping my blog and I thought an FAQ page will be useful. Feel free to ask any questions from food to lifestyle in the comment box or you can email me at sab-06@hotmail. Whatever your questions, I’d be happy to hear.

Vegan Mofo 9: K is for Kuih Ondeh Ondeh

Kuihs are Southeast Asian snacks especially popular in Singapore and Malaysia. It is an umbrella term, encompassing both sweet desserts and savoury bites. Dessert kuihs come in a thousand different shapes, colours, texture and designs, yet they are share a common set of base ingredients: coconut milk, grated coconut, pandan leaves, gula melaka (coconut palm syrup), rice flour, glutinous rice flour, tapioca and/or mung bean flour. The combination of these ingredients is responsible for the kuih’s delightful chewy texture and wonderful fragrance. They are naturally vegan too!

It’s hard to choose, but my favorite kuih has to be Kuih Ondeh Ondeh. These are essentially the Asian equivalent of a molten lava cake; a heavenly pool of melted gula melaka would squirt out as you bite into the chewy sweet potato skin that is infused with the essence of pandan. If anything, coconut + pandan + gula melaka makes the holy trinity of dessert kuihs!

I found several recipes online and it looked pretty easy to make (see links in recipe below). I could not be more wrong. First, I didn’t expect the difficulty in extracting fresh pandan juice from pandan leaves; 1 cup of pandan leaves only yielded a measly tablespoon of the precious green juice! Then I made another mistake by adding too much water when forming the dough. I had to rectify that by adding more glutinous rice flour, which screwed up the proportions of sweet potato-to-flour ratio (ideally it should be about 1:1). Finally, as I molded the balls, some of the gula melaka started melting and oozed out of the pre-boiled balls. The final outcome was, expectedly, disastrous. No oozing filling (it probably all leaked out into the water) and thick doughy skin that ironically, was limp and seemed to tear apart easily too.

From my disastrous experience, here are some pointers you may wish to keep in mind when making ondeh-ondeh:

  • Use pandan essence as a quick solution to pandan juice. Unless you have a lot of time to squeeze the juice from the leaves and are willing clean up the blender.
  • Add water to the dough little by little, until it resembles the texture of play-dough. It should not be sticky.
  • Grate the gula melaka finely so that it melts easily.
  • Use about 10g dough for each ball (I used 15g and it turned out huge as it actually expanded upon boiling.)
  • Some recipes call for tapioca flour in the dough. Not sure how that would affect the texture of the dough.

Although the kuih ondeh-ondeh didn’t turned out well, I’ve learnt quite alot from this disaster and now appreciate the skill needed to make those balls of deliciousness. It’s also my first time working with pandan and glutionous rice flour, so it was quite an experience.

Kuih Ondeh Ondeh (Sweet Potato Glutinous Rice Balls) (Recipe-in-progress)
24 balls.
Vegan.
Adapted from Atkokken and Christine’s Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 6 pandan leaves, chopped into small pieces; and 2 additional pandan leaves
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp water
  • 120g sweet potato, skins removed (use different coloured sweet potatoes if preferred; I used 60g each of Australian orange sweet potato and Vietnamese yellow sweet potato, and then divided the rest of the ingredients into two batches)
  • 4 tbsp coconut milk
  • 120g glutinous rice flour
  • 50g gula melaka, finely grated
  • Dessicated coconut, as needed

Directions

  1. Cut 6 panadan Leaves into small pieces and blend it with the water. Squeeze to get about 2 tbsp of dark green pandan juice. Divide into two portions if using two different coloured sweet potatoes.
  2. Steam sweet potato in a saucepan with a little water. Let cool down, then mash.
  3. Mix mashed sweet potato with the pandan juice and coconut milk.
  4. Add in glutinous rice flour and incorporate until the dough comes together.
  5. Portion dough out into 10-15g pieces and flatten into circles. Place about half teaspoon of grated gula melaka into the center of the circle, roll into a ball and seal. Place the ball in a shallow plate of glutinous rice flour to prevent them from sticking together.
  6. Place the remaining 2 pandan leaves into a pot of water and bring to boil a pot of water. Drop the balls into the boiling water. Cook until the Ondeh Ondeh floats to the surface of the boiling water.
  7. Remove the Ondeh Ondeh with a slotted spoon and leave it to cool for 2 mins.
  8. Roll the Ondeh Ondeh in grated coconut and serve.

 
Surprisingly, both my Mum and sister actually liked the Ondeh Ondeh despite it lacking the squirty effect. So try the recipe at your own risk.

Vegan Mofo 7: H is for vegan Hollandaise (and vegan cheese disaster)

That thick yellow sauce poured over eggs benedict – that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hollandaise. Although meaning Holland-style or from Holland, it roots are actually French, specifically originating from a small town in Normandy called Isigny-sur-Mer, which was famous for its creamy butter. However during World War I, butter production ceased in France, and butter was imported from Holland instead. Hence from its original name Sauce Isigny, it was rechristened Hollandaise sauce. Today it remains one of the five Mother sauces in haute French cuisine (the other sauces being bechamel, veloute, espagnole and tomato sauce), and is a traditional topper for eggs benedict, asparagus, or fish.

History lesson over; what’s actually goes into this artery-clogging pale mustard custard-like sauce that so many people seem to lap up with gusto? Egg yolks. Butter. (And a touch of lemon juice and/or vinegar). Doubly unvegan. I was never really taken to eggs benny or hollandaise because of the richness, but a lightened up vegan Hollandaise served over tofu patties sounds much more palatable and appealing!

Today I cheat again by not posting an original recipe, but sharing three vegan Hollandaise I curated from over the web, made using different bases: tofu, cashew or cornstarch. Although I have not tried them out, I expect that using a cashew base would give a fuller body and heavier texture while the tofu one would be milder and lighter. Happy Holland-azing! (Pictures are taken from the respective blogs’ website).

Tofu-based Hollandaise sauce from Chez Bettay (served with smoky bacon tempeh) – has quite a lengthy list of ingredients, including soy creamer and vegan butter.

Tofu Hollandaise Sauce

Cashew-based Hollandaise sauce from Keepin’ It Kind (served with chickpea patties) – the simplest of all three, made with just cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard and seasonings.

Cashew Hollandaise Sauce

Cornstarch-based Hollandaise sauce from Cookbook Aficionado (served with tofu patties) – for the lazy ones who don’t want to dirty the blender or food processor!

Cornstarch Hollandaise Sauce

Meanwhile I’d take this opportunity to share the outcome of Vegangela’s vegan cheese, which was also one of the recipes I bookmarked in the list for Vegan Mofo ‘C’ ingredients recipe round-up.

This is made with cashews and non-dairy (almond) milk as the body, seasoned with nutritional yeast and miso for the cheesy taste, and set with agar. I poured the mixture into a mini springform pan to set and it was ready after a few hours in the fridge. It came out weird, like a child born of a cheese father and a jelly mother. A more succinct description would be a savoury cheese jelly. Apart from the strange texture, the miso taste came out too strong rather then blend into the background. Overall I would classify it as a kitchen failure, and the bulk of the cheese is now languishing in the fridge. It may or may not have gone bad already.

I kept to the original recipe, except omitting the garlic and onion powder as I didn’t have them. Although it was a failure, here’s the recipe in case you’re interested.

Homemade Vegan Cheese
1 4.5″ block.
Vegan.
Adapted from Vegangela.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1+3/4 cups plain unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 8 tsp agar powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp yellow or white miso (I used white)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Grind cashews in a food processor (do not allow the cashews to turn into a paste). Add the nutritional yeast and salt. Pulse a few more times to blend in the spices.
  2. Combine the milk, agar, and oil in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, or until the agar is dissolved. With the food processor running, gradually pour the milk mixture through the feed tube and into the cashew mixture. Blend until the mixture is very smooth and creamy. Then blend in the miso and lemon juice.
  3. Transfer the cheese to a container (ramekin or springform pan). Cover and refrigerate until it is very firm, about 4 hours.
  4. Once firm, unmold from the container. Grate or slice the cheese as desired.

 

For now I’ll stick to the basic liquid nutritional yeast sauce for any cheese needs!

Gone Fishing

Since the initiation of my Instagram account I’ve been a tad tardy in my posting. Blame it on the ease and convenience of, well, instantly sharing your photos and getting almost immediate feedback. You may want to refer to @earlymorningoats for more frequent feed. I guess this means more space on this blog can be devoted to more experimental recipes apart from just oatmeals and such.

One such experiment is Gindara Misozuke, or miso-marinated black cod. While the first attempt was great, I felt the marinade still had room for improvement. Specifically many questions flood my mind: how would aka miso fare compared to shiro miso? Does 72 hours marination time really make a difference compared to 24 hours or 48 hours? How about reducing the amount of sugar and upping the miso ratio (it was slightly sweet in the first attempt). With these questions in mind I set out with some experiments.

To investigate the difference between shiro and aka miso, I used a blend of shiro/aka miso this time. I didn’t do a 100% aka as I was afraid the saltiness of aka miso might be too overpowering. I placed two gindara fillets in the marinade; the first I cooked 24 hours later, and the second 48 hours later.

Gindara Misozuke
For two cod fillets.
Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp shiro miso
  • 1 tbsp aka miso
  • 3/4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 pieces (90g each) gindara (black cod) fillets

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring sake and mirin to boil. Boil for about 20 secs to evaporate the alcohol.
  2. Add the miso paste and stir with a wooden spoon until it dissolves completely.
  3. Add the sugar, raise the heat to high, and stir continuously until it has dissolved completely. Leave to cool until it marinade reaches room temperature.
  4. Pat the fillets thoroughly dry with paper towels. Slather the fillets with the miso marinade and place in a nonreactive dish or bowl. Leave to steep in the refrigerator overnight or until 3 days.
  5. Before cooking, preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly wipe off any excess marinade clinging to the fillets but don’t rinse it off. Place the fish in oven and broil until the surface of the fish turns brown (about 12-15 min).

 

First off, I was glad I did not use a 100% aka miso as this time the taste veered towards the salty spectrum. My preference lies toward shiro miso and probably 2 tbsp of shiro miso would give the best balance between sweet and savouriness.

Second, what a difference 24 hours make! There was a discernible difference between the 24 and 48 hour marinated cods; the latter boasting a deeper, more intense taste. So really the two days of waiting is highly recommended, and three days all the more better. After all, you just let the fish sit in the fridge and let Time take its course; so effort whatsoever! So I’ve investigated the variables of miso type and time, and I hope by the next few tries, I can nail down a reliable recipe with great tasty results.

The first night I served the gindara with savoury steel cut oats cooked in chicken herbal soup. That was one of the few tries at savoury oats, which previous experiences did not leave me particularly enamoured. I think savoury oats works best with steel cut versus rolled. After it cooled down and thickened, the textured reminded me of grits (funny to say this as I never had polenta before but that’s what I imagine it to be). After all is said and done, I’ll still stick with sweet fruity oats.

Still on the Quest for the Perfect Pancake Puff: Egg vs “Egg”

Blueberry pancakes

I tested two recipes this Round, one with real egg whites and the second using egg replacer (Orgran).

Perfect [Blueberry] Pancake Quest: Round #3

Version 1 using egg whites

  • 1/2 cup 10-grain pancake mix [Bob’s Red Mill]
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
  • 3/8 cup soy milk [Silk, unsweetened]
  • 2 tbsp light coconut milk [Native Forest]
  • Fresh blueberries

Version 2 using egg replacer (Vegan)

  • 1/2 cup 10-grain pancake mix [Bob’s Red Mill]
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 “egg” (1 tsp powder reconstituted in 2 tbsp water)
  • 3/8 cup soy milk [Silk, unsweetened]
  • 2 tbsp light coconut milk [Native Forest]
  • Fresh blueberries

 
Essentially, the recipes for the two versions are identical except for the egg. Clearly version 1 with real egg whites was the unanimous favorite (the bottom two pancakes in the picture). It came out fluffier and cooked better too, in terms of its “flippability.” In contrast, the version 2 (the top pancake) suffered from a lack of leavening and the batter tend to stick, resulting in deformed pancakes due to failed flipping. In fact of the 4 “egg” pancakes (version 2) I only had one slightly round one whereas all four egg pancakes (version 1) came out nicely. Overall the difference between the two (apart from aesthetics) was slight but still discernable. However, I still feel there is much room for improvement. The best was actually Round #1 (which I did not post) where I used 1 chia egg and 1 real egg (both whites and yolks). I wonder if the added fat from the yolk is the trick. Maybe my next tweak shall be to add oil.

Also, unlike most recipes, I did not fold in the blueberries into the mix but rather added them directly onto the skillet after pouring the batter. Part of it was because I felt the need to ensure that there were equal number of blueberries per pancake (6) – perhaps a manifestation of my OCD? I loved how the juices squirted out with every bite!

Round #4 coming up soon!