apple tart, Cook, coral jelly, Food, laksa, Lifestyle Choices, nutritional yeast, pumpkin salad, Raw foodism, Raw veganism, shiso, Singapore local favorites, vegan, Veganism, vegetarian, vegetarianism
I am seriously running behind time with my posts ><” and I’m so sorry to all you readers for not posting the whole of last week! From here on I’ll try to keep my posts as succinct as possible since spending too much effort painstakingly conveying all my thoughts and feelings makes them too long and time-consuming to write, adding to the difficulty of posting regularly. So here goes!
We made a raw vegan laksa, a herbed pumpkin salad and apple cinnamon tart. Generally speaking, raw food shines in terms of vibrant flavors since the original flavors of vegetables remain unadulterated and completely intact in the final dish. Eating raw also does wonders for how that meal digests in your system, and I really mean it when I say in a divine way because having switched to a >50% raw diet recently I can ascertain that my body feels lighter, I experience higher mental clarity, energy throughout the day and have more frequent bowel movements compared to when I’m on a predominantly cooked foods diet.
Prepwork was slightly finicky as we had to deal with spiralising the mung kuang or jicama to make the noodle base. It takes some special attention to do the jicama — part of the skin must be left on to ensure a tight grip in the spiraliser otherwise the jicama won’t turn!
It’s not quite as simple an affair as getting a spiraliser and *waves hands* hey presto, got yourself some noodles. There are different serrated blades to adjust the thickness of your noodles and one may have to switch to the using blades meant for larger cuts especially for veggies of high water content, like the turnip here. We actually didn’t manage to obtain beautiful cuts 100% of the time with the turnip shreds becoming mushier towards the end.
The heart of laksa is really in the flavor of the sauce, so here’s what went in: young coconut meat and water, fresh laksa leaves, chilli, ginger, lemongrass, galangal and a bevy of other seasonings like the liquid aminos, curry powder and agave here.Rather than bunging it all into the blender and blitzing away, you’d also need to take into account the relative soft or hardness of ingredients used and throw them into the blender in the right order. Also, make sure to cut up the harder ingredients so you get a uniformly smooth sauce. Helps to have a high-powered blender!
Aside from our mung kuang noodles, our dish also contained spiralised carrots, julienned red pepper, cucumber and some sweet corn, all raw of course! Pour over the sauce…And garnish with more of the toppings and fresh laksa leaves for a beautiful presentation.Raw vegan laksa is served! People who don’t eat vegetables really don’t know what they miss out on. The different subtle texture of all the veggies — crunchiness of the cucs, carrots and jicama with bursts of sweetness from the corn, all coated in a fragrant herbed sauce.
This was certainly an eye-opener to say the least this being my first time eating raw vegan laksa. The sauce was a little too rich for my liking with all the coconut meat in it which made me feel really full after a small portion. I also wouldn’t say this was very reminiscent to the original flavors of laksa though it is an admirable work of culinary art in itself!
Basil/Mint Leaf Pumpkin Salad
This raw pumpkin salad is even easier. We started by cubing the veg — pumpkin, zucchini and purple cabbage. Prior to these classes, I’d never have given raw pumpkin a chance but having a taste of just-cooked pumpkin in the Bibimbap during R’s Korean themed class and then V’s pumpkin noodles in the Tri-colored pasta we made two weeks ago, I’ve realised raw pumpkin has a natural sweetness and has a rather soft texture rather than the rock solid impression I used to have. It still does taste a bit pumpkin-y so serving it with a flavorsome sauce is a good idea to mask that taste.
To the cubed veggies, we added a marinate consisting of lime juice, plum jam, liquid aminos, agave and EVOO. A pretty standard, basic sauce with some sweetener, acid and oil. The plum jam was a nice touch which provided some umami very similar to pureed tomato as well as an appetizing tartness. To serve, garnish with herb sprigs such as basil or mint. To heighten the herbed flavors, one may also add a few drops of food-grade herb oils which smell very, very, very close to the real thing unlike artificial flavors.
I’d say this pumpkin salad was my favorite dish from this class because of its relative simplicity. Easy to make and the plum jam and herbs gave an accented yet clean, simple flavor to the salad. Rather than running out and buying a jar of plum jam (which seems like a rather obscure ingredient to have in the pantry), I would love trying to replicate this with umeboshi instead when I get my hands on some.
We also garnished with some optional toppings like this seaweed furikake and ‘Three Treasures’ which have been consistently featured throughout V’s classes. Furikake is a Japanese topping usually sprinkled over plain rice which makes it more savory. This particular brand consists of Aosa (or aonori, the green flakes used to top takoyaki or octopus balls in Japan), Akajiso (or red shiso/beefsteak, a herb commonly used to flavor umeboshi or pickled sour plums) and sesame seeds. The three treasures here refer to nutritional yeast, sesame seeds and soy lecithin all common healthfood ingredients that add a boost of nutrients by simply sprinkling on whatever your heart fancies!
Apple Spice Tart
Raw desserts can hardly be called revolutionary now, given the sheer plethora of free raw dessert recipes available over the net. This apple tart follows the same basic pattern of making a tart base from blitzed nuts and dried fruit and a filling also made by simply blitzing ingredients into uniformity in a high-powered blender.
Start off by blitzing the nuts. We used soaked and dehydrated nuts for maximum nutrient absorption. Soaking helps remove phytic acid and anti-nutrients which inhibit digestion and dehydrating over a couple of days in the dehydrator helps prolong shelf-life.
Then dates are added in to help bind the nut meal due to its natural stickiness. The resultant nut-date mixture is good enough to eat on its own! Besides making into tart bases, you can fashion energy bars or energy balls out of them too. Great as portable, animal-friendly, eco-friendly ‘green’ snacks 🙂We pressed the mixture into tart bases. Then followed in to making the filling…
Our filling consisted of soaked coral jelly, apple, fresh ginger, liquid sweetener, some cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Coral jelly is one of those slightly obscure health food ingredients (I’ve even blogged about it here where I talked about using it as a thickener/binder replacement for Irish Moss) but not all that uncommon in the raw food world where resourceful raw chefs regularly use gelatinous seaweed in dessert applications.The coral jelly gave the filling a translucent, firm, jelly like consistency. I find the amount of seaweed used is important as too much will give a snot-like texture which can be quite gross.
We packed the filling into our tart bases, then finished off by garnishing with diced apple and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
This was subtly sweet due to the very slight amounts of sweetener used throughout. Apple and dates provide a natural fruity sweetness, but I found this more suitable as a snack rather than a dessert as it provided more body rather than full-on flavor which desserts need to end off a meal with. I liked the crust which had a lovely coconut fragrance from the coconut flakes but still prefer a filling which is not coral-jelly based. It was still a treat though, given that we’ve seldom made sweet recipes so far during the course!
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The next lesson is a return to cooked foods again featuring grilled portobello mushrooms with a lentil sauce and local Singapore favorites such as vegan Otah and thunder tea brown rice (Lei Cha). As always, stay tuned for the next vegan cooking class update! 🙂