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Today I discovered photo collages and thought ”How ingenious! These will save me so much time with uploading a gazillion photos on WordPress!” So I thought it was an excellent way to keep time spent uploading photos to a minimum whilst arranging them in running fashion for easy-to-comprehend viewing. But now realise I was utterly wrong, after spending a phenomenal length of time prettifying these, that collages are not saving me any time, therefore not actually speeding up my blog-updating rate which I’d originally hoped for! Nonetheless, I’m satisfied with the way the pictures turned out and I hope you like them too!

Our 12th lesson (3 more to go!) was Vietnamese themed. I’ve been loving Vietnamese food ever since dining at Wrap & Roll recently. 

Vegan Rice Paper Rolls with Tofu, Mango and Mint

ImageThese are just about the easiest, more refreshing appetizer-cum-portable lunch ever. I was about to add fuss-free too but the fact is these rice flour wrappers do require a bit of finesse to fold up and over the fillings without sticking to the board too much or ripping. How’s you do it, you ask? First you prep your veggies and herbs — matchstick your carrots, cucumbers, green mango and get a buncha mint. Soak and boil beehoon for 3 minutes till soft and cook. And panfry taukwa till slightly browned and crisp. Cut into taukwa matchsticks.

Now the fun part — Wrapping! The part that also separates the amateurs from the pros. Here’s a tip: Soak the rice paper in warm water for a few seconds. Don’t wait till it turns soft. It should still be rather stiff and unwieldy. It gets softer as it lays on your board. Layer on ingredients — beehoon, tofu, cuc, carrot, mango then mint. Use your last two fingers to hold them down and together as you gingerly lift the end of the wrapper closest to you and fold over the filling. Roll over once, fold sides in and continue rolling till you get till the end!

It’s actually really easy if you get the technique right. Which won’t take you more than a few rollings to nail it. By the end of one session, you’d not only feel pleased as punch with yourself, you’d probably also feel confident enough to throw a spring roll fest for your mates!

Lemongrass Tofu with Basil
Vietnamese Vegan Lemongrass Tofu

Another delicious treat for the vegan soul — tofu marinated in a lemongrass paste and panfried with basil and crushed peanuts. It’s meaty, it’s nutty. And the deep flavor of Thai basil packs so much additional flavor. We learnt a nifty technique for dicing lemongrass — you remove the tough outer layers, bash the stalk, then proceed to chop and mince. They form the base of an aromatic marinate flavored with soy sauce, chilli padi and turmeric.  Triangulate taukwa, and let steep in the marinate for a coupla hours if possible to let the pieces soak up all those flavors.

To panfry, saute shallots and garlic then add the taukwa pieces in, spreading them out evenly. Toss every once in a while to ensure browning. Once tofu is nicely browned, time to add those basil leaves in and the chopped roasted peanuts. Stir to mix, then finish with some lime juice for a perky tartness.

There is a saying in Japanese about tofu, that goes — Tofu is the ‘Meat of the Fields’. Who needs meat when we’ve got such tasty plant-meat? 😀

Vietnamese Rice Crepe with Veggies — Vegan Banh Xeo
Vietnamese Vegan Rice CrepeThis was slightly exciting as I’ve actually seen a Vegan Banh Xeo recipe before in The Veggie Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook. It’s a vegan cookbook btw and features an intriguing vegan mayo recipe made from (wait for it)….. flaxseeds. BAM!

This vietnamese rice crepe is a very different twist from conventional wheat (aka French crepes) but is traditionally quite vegan to begin with. For the batter, mix up rice flour, cornflour, turmeric, water, coconut milk, spring onions and salt to get a slightly watery, pourable batter. Prep your veggies (broc, carrot, red pepper and onion) into small pieces so they cook quick. Panfry and cook your veggies first. Then generously oil a non-stick pan and pour some of the batter in. Once cooked, whence they start to turn yellow especially along the sides and sometimes crack in the centre, you want to carefully check the underneath for brownness. Patience is key as rice flour crepes tend to take a longer time to brown and crisp up.

When you’ve decided the crepe’s good to be flipped, layer on your veggies on one half, make an ever so slight indentation along the centre off the crepe to help it fold. Then use all your spatula flipping skills to fold the crepe over.

Vegan Banh Xeo is served. Generously drizzle on a thai dipping sauce (made from soy sauce, chilli padi, garlic, lime juice, sugar and salt) and tuck in!

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The next lesson will be about Middle Eastern Vegan! Expect simple, hearty dishes like Hummus with Pita Bread, a Couscous salad and Harira soup!