Thai Inspired Rice Noodle Salad (Vegan)

Posted by Penny on January 17, 2014
Food, Vegan Recipes / No Comments

Melbourne (and the southern part of Australia) is in the middle of a heatwave. Today reached 42C, yesterday 44C, the day before that 42C, with overnight temperatures around 28C. (That’s 82 to 111 Faranheit, folks.) It’s hot.

So naturally, when it’s that hot, you don’t even want to LOOK at the oven. I basically have spent the last 4 days underneath the aircon vent, just feeling grateful that I have aircon. And drinking a lot of water + iceblocks. And eating a lot of salad. This rice noodle salad is one of my favourite Summer salads as it involves about 3 minutes of stovetop action, and is fresh and delicious, but still feels like you’re eating a proper, flavourful, filling meal.

You can easily substitute in your favourite salad vegetables, just don’t add too many watery ones like cucumber and tomato or you’ll have a soupy little thing.

Just make sure you use lots of lemon and lime, and keep the basil & chilli – that’s what makes it deliciously Thai.

Thai Inspired Rice Noodle Salad.


100g vermicelli rice noodles*

1/2 red onion
75g pre-fried tofu puffs
1 tsp rice bran oil
1 tbpn kecap manis

1 large carrot
1 celery stick
1/3 Lebanese cucumber
1/8 of a red cabbage
small handful of lettuce leaves

handful of basil leaves
1 spring onion
1/3 cup roasted crushed peanuts*

4 tsp light soy sauce*
1/2 tsp caster sugar
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
1 tspn chilli paste (or to taste – I use sambal oelek which is not super spicy)
3 drops toasted sesame oil


Prepare the noodles – Boil a kettle full of water. Pop your vermicelli rice noodles (I like the Wai Wai brand) into a saucepan and pour boiling water over. Let sit for 1 minute, or until the rice noodles are still a bit chewy but are cooked, and drain. Rinse until cold (this is important so the noodles stop cooking and don’t clump). Squeeze out any excess water and pop the noodles into your salad bowl.

Prepare the vegetables – finely grate / shred the carrot, finely slice the cucumber and celery, finely shred the red cabbage, finely slice the lettuce. Pick the basil leaves and finely slice the spring onion. Add these all to the rice noodles.

Prepare the dressing – Combine all the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.

Cook the tofu – Finely slice the red onion and tofu. Pop into a non-stick frypan with the oil and fry about 3 minutes on high until the red onion is just starting to brown. Add the kecap manis and after about 1 minute (when everything looks coated in kecap manis) turn off heat and pop this in the salad bowl with the noodles and vegetables.

Pour over the dressing, and top with the crushed peanuts.



*The beauty of vermicelli rice noodles is they don’t actually need to be boiled on the stovetop, just soaked in boiling water. Faster, and less heat in your kitchen.

*In case you were wondering, light soy sauce is soy sauce that is lighter in colour (as opposed to dark soy sauce) – you can just use your favourite soy sauce or tamari.

*If you’re allergic to peanuts, use crushed roasted almonds, toasted sunflower seeds or toasted sesame seeds.


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Vegan Yakisoba

Posted by Penny on October 12, 2013
Food, Vegan Recipes / No Comments

I’m constantly on the lookout for fast, easy and nutritious meals to cook, otherwise I tend to eat the same few dishes on repeat. Yakisoba is one thing I cook fairly often, and most of the ingredients are pantry regulars.

You’ve probably had it if you dine at Japanese restaurants, but if not, my version is a delicious combination of teriyaki sauce, lots of ginger, finely chopped vegetables and tofu, and of course soba noodles. Soba noodles are a buckwheat based noodle (most of them also contain wheat flour but it is possible to find 100% buckwheat soba noodles which are gluten free). When cooked correctly they’re slightly chewy and a little salty, so go easy on the soy sauce in this recipe.


Teriyaki Sauce

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of mirin (or 1 of mirin and 1 of sake – available at asian groceries)
2 tablepoons of water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornflour

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over a medium heat until thickened. (You can also use 2 tablespoons of premade teriyaki sauce and 1 teaspoon of added ginger instead.)


180 – 200 grams of soba noodles (they usually come in pre-divided bundles in each packet)
1 small brown onion
1 small or 1/2 large carrot
3 spring onions
1 small zucchini
1 handful green beans
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sliced fresh red chilli (optional)
1/4 packet pre-fried tofu puffs, or approx 80g tofu, sliced and fried
teriyaki sauce (see above)
1 – 2 teaspoons oil

Start by cooking the soba noodles. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the noodles and boil for about 1 minute – the should have started getting soft but be nowhere near cooked. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water until the noodles are cool (to stop the cooking process). When you add the par-cooked noodles to the dish a bit later they will finish cooking!

Slice the vegetables into thin sticks – about the width of a bean.

Pop the oil into a frypan (I use a non-stick pan as it’s a wee bit easier). Fry the onion over a medium high heat until lightly browned, then add the carrot and optional chilli. Once the carrot has started to cook (after about 2 minutes) add the zucchini, spring onion and beans, and fry until they’ve started to soften and lightly brown. (If your veg are taking awhile to cook add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to help them along! This is also great if they start to burn a little.)

Add the sauce and sliced tofu, and once it’s all mixed up and the tofu is heated through, add the noodles. Once the noodles are all separated, and mixed through, you’re done!

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, finely sliced spring onion, or fresh chilli.

Mushroom Gyoza (Vegan)

Posted by Penny on June 03, 2013
Cooking, Food, Vegan Recipes / 1 Comment

I love dumplings. And really, who doesn’t? Gyoza are one of my favourites, gently pan-fried on the bottom, steamed on top, with a fantastic dipping sauce. They’re actually really easy to make, my method was taught to me by a Japanese friend. Basically the gyoza are fried, water is added to the frypan and the lid popped on, then when the gyoza are steamed the lid is taken off, you just keep cooking until the gyoza are dry and you can slide them out. Traditionally they would have a minced pork & spring onion filling. You can also do a vegetarian version using wombok (cabbage) and spring onion. But I choose mushrooms!

You will need: A good quality non-stick frypan with a lid.

You can’t make gyoza using this method unless your frypan is non-stick! It doesn’t matter what size your frypan is, mine is about 25cm across and I can make around 15 gyoza at a time.

Gyoza Ingredients:
3 medium-sized mushrooms (regular white ones are great!)
1 spring onion
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
fresh grated ginger to taste (around 1/4 teaspoon)
15 gyoza wrappers (round wheat wrappers from Asian grocery)
1 tsp rice bran oil for frying (or your fave frying oil)

1 cup of warm water (with an optional teaspoon cornflour stirred in) *

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
3 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon chilli paste
3-5 drops sesame oil


1. Combine all your ingredients in a bowl. Finely chop the mushrooms and spring onions, and finely grate the ginger. Add the cornflour and soy sauce and mix well. Grab your frypan and rub the 1 teaspoon of oil over the surface.

2. Start filling the gyoza! Dip your finger in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water, then rub it around the edge of half the wrapper. (The warm water will make the flour on the wrapper gummy so you can crimp the gyoza closed.) Pop about a teaspoon full of filling in the middle, then crimp the wet half closed (if you’ve never made dumplings before this tutorial may help! I only fold mine once as I’m lazy.)

3. Lay your finished gyoza evenly in your oiled frypan. The gyoza shouldn’t be too cramped, if they’re so cramped that you can’t see little patches of frypan around the place they’ll take too long to cook.

4. Pop the frypan on a high heat on your stovetop for around 1 minute until the gyoza start lightly browning on the bottom (use a pair of wooden chopsticks to peek!)

5. Quickly pour the cup of water with optional added cornflour and pop the lid on. Switch the heat to medium-high. Cook for 4-6 mins until the gyoza wrappers have started to cook (they will be ever so slightly translucent and have started to puff up from the heat). If your water is cooking off too fast you can always add a little more. *

6. Take off the lid and cook, still on medium-high, until all the water has evaporated. You can take a peek again by lifting one with your chopsticks! You want them nicely browned and crisp on the bottom but not burned.

7. Serve. If you’ve added the optional cornflour the best way to serve is to pop a plate on top of your frypan and then carefully flip over.


Dipping Sauce:

Combine everything, and adjust to taste!


* The reason the cornflour is optional at stage 5 is: if you want your gyoza to form a ‘pizza’ with a crispy crunchy bottom (like the above photo!) add cornflour. If you want your gyoza to be easily separable, don’t add cornflour. The cornflour, when cooked, goes from runny to gloopy to crispy crunchy.