Here at Aflete we appreciate good vegan food so when we wanted to make some Asian classics that are traditionally meat based we knew we needed a little help in the kitchen!
We turned to our good friend Seonkyoung Longest, artist turned chef and former Food Network Show winner going on to launch her own restaurant in Las Vegas, now Seonkyoung is focusing on bringing Asian food to the masses by demonstrating delicious, beautiful food is actually a lot easier to make than you might think on her YouTube show Asian at Home.
We previously found out about her inspirations and ambitions in our last interview which you can read here, but today we are going green and bringing you 3 of Seonkyoung’s favourite vegan Asian recipes and finding out what goes into creating vegan variations of classic Asian dishes.
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Why do you think some people assume that vegan food will be flavourless not ‘real food’ so to speak?
People need to understand food and nutrition really well to know what is REALLY good for you. In my opinion, we need to study more about food and nutrition. Lots of people believe milk for calcium and must have animal meat for protein- but if you give a little bit of attention and research, you will realize that’s not true.
When you create a vegan recipe do you think you approach them differently as you are a non-vegan yourself?
Absolutely. My recipe is focusing on “Introducing” vegetarian/vegan foods for whom not vegetarian/vegan or beginners of vegetarian/vegan. I want to teach people that they don’t have to have meat or dairy in every single meal for nutrition wise or satisfaction.
Also I’m not a vegetarian/vegan myself so I can understand more what can satisfies meat lovers without animal products.
Vegan Bulgogi (Tofu & Mushroom Bulgogi)
- 2 Tbs. Soy sauce
- 2 Tbs. Agave nectar, honey or sugar
- 1 Tbs. Sesame oil
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- 3 Cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1Tbs.)
- 2 Tbs. cooking oil
- 1/2 block ( 6oz.) of firm/extra firm tofu, warp in paper towel for 5 min to get rid of excess water then cut into 1/2″x1/2″ cubes (If you are using only tofu, use whole 14oz. block)
- 3 cups (8 oz.) Beech mushrooms (You can substitute to any other mushrooms)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- In a small mixing bowl, combine soy sauce and next 4 ingredients (until minced garlic), set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium hight heat; add oil and swirl to coat. Add tofu cubes carefully and spread out evenly. Toss or stir around every 2 to 3 minutes so they will brown up evenly about 7 to 8 minutes. If it takes too long, increase heat to high.
- When tofu browned up all sides, add mushrooms and combine with tofu. Cook for 3 minutes, but don’t stir too much- so mushrooms will turn nicely golden brown.
- Stir in sauce we made earlier, cook for a minutes. Moisture should evaporates quick.
- Remove from heat, and stir in green onion.
- Serve with warm cooked rice and sprinkle with some sesame seeds and green onion right on top if you have any.
- Tofu and mushrooms needs a bit more patient to be golden brown, so let them do their magic in the skillet!
As a cook and a highly creative person do you find it restrictive or exciting when you create new vegan recipes as essentially you are limited with which ingredients you can use in vegan food?
I love challenge and when I’m trying to create vegan recipes, I definitely feel challenging myself.
But this is what I’ve realized. It’s limited ingredients, if you think so. Also it opens up different pantry door and discovering new ingredients if you think so. Choice if yours, it’s really how you look at it.
I’ve learned and adopted so many different ingredients and cooking styles that I normally wouldn’t use or do. It’s really amazing to have some fun in the kitchen with an open mind.
Would you ever consider going vegan yourself?
Actually I was a vegan for about 6 months. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not easy especially if you live in Mississippi. hahaha
Right this moment, I’m not considering going vegan myself. One of my biggest philosophy of cooking/eating food is balance. I don’t believe animal products are the problem. But how much we eat is the problem.
I’m still on my journey of finding the perfect balance of cook/eat food.
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1½ cup Freshly chopped king oyster mushroom
- ½ cup Freshly chopped wood ear mushroom
- 1 cup Vermicelli noodles, prepare by following the directions of the package, cut into 1” long
- 8 oz. Firm tofu, squeezed water out as much as possible.
- 3 Green onions, chopped OR ¼ cup Asian garlic chive, chopped
- 2 Tbs. Soy sauce
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Sugar
- ¼ tsp. Black pepper
- 1 tsp. Sesame oil
- 2 Tbs. Corn starch
- 1 cup Vegan kimchi, squeezed excess moister, chopped (Optional)
- 23 to 25 Dumpling wrappers, wonton wrappers (Most of dumpling wrappers are vegan, made with flour, starch and water but make sure with the ingredients list of dumpling wrapper package you are using.)
- In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients except dumpling wrappers and mix well until everything has combined.
- Place a wrapper on your palm, wet edges with water; scoop a heaping teaspoon of filling at centre of wrapper. Bring opposite points toward each other and press edges together.
- Repeat with remaining wrappers and filing. It will make 23 to 25 dumplings.
- You can steam, fry or boil dumplings. Everything is cooked ingredients so doesn’t need to cook too long; 3 to 4 minutes is perfect. What I like to do is pan-fried and steamed all same time.
Gyoza Style Cooking
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat; add 1 Tbs. cooking oil and place dumplings on skillet.
- Pour ¼ cup water to skillet, cover and steam for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Uncover and continue to cook until all of moisture evaporates.
- Transfer to serving plate and enjoy!
If you would like to freeze it, make sure you don’t pile them all together because they will stick to each other. Place dumplings on a baking sheet not touching and freeze them a couple hours. Transfer frozen dumplings in a plastic bag and seal tight. Keep it freeze.
Vegan food and Asian food seem to have an odd relationship. Some of the best Vegan food comes from Asia yet many of the great nations (Korea, Japan, China) have cuisines that are heavy on meat and or sea food – how did you approach this when making these vegan versions of Asian classics?
A lot of Asian foods/recipes that very well known in U.S are basically what people looking for to cook/eat. We have numberless vegetarian dishes that never introduced in U.S because no one looking for it. In Asia/South East Asia, it’s very rare to find dairy in traditional cuisine. We use small amount of meat/seafood in lots of dishes for the flavor, not for the main entrée. Most of dishes that introduced in U.S (Meat/seafood dishes) are very special dishes that we eat only on special days.
Making Asian dish into Vegetarian/vegan is super easy, I just need to find a great substitute for fish sauce. 😉
Healthy Vegan Savory Oatmeal
- ½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1 cup Vegetable stock
- 8 Grape tomatoes, cut into halves
- ½ Avocado, cut into small cubes
- 4 oz. Silken tofu, cut into small cubes
- A pinch of touted sesame seeds
- ½ tsp. Sesame oil for taste
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup vegetable stock to a boil. Add oats; stir, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. (You also can do this in a microwave following the package directions)
Serve oatmeal in a bowl topped with tomato, avocado, tofu and sesame seeds.