One rainy day in November a little ray of sunshine was waiting for me on my desk at work, a present from London, my first ever review copy of a cookbook: ‘My Vegan Travels’ by Jackie Kearney.
My discovery of the Asian kitchen and ingredients
If there’s one cookbook that really taught me something about ingredients and cooking, and especially Asian cooking, it’s Jackie’s first book ‘Vegan Street Food‘, in which she shares the best of her veganized Asian streetfood recipes. Trust me, they are soooo good!
I often went shopping in the biggest Asian specialty supermarket in Antwerp, Sun Wah, to buy tea, ginger, silken tofu and curry paste. Still there were so many ingredients I wanted to give a try, but didn’t know how. So I just didn’t buy them and never got to test them. And, I am the kind of person who likes to try everything at least once (if it’s not meat/fish/… of course). Even when someone says it tastes very bad, I still need to try it. (Yes, that happened with Marmite when I lived in the UK for half a year, and yes, that was a bad bad experience. And it was only one fourth of a drop or something. But, I’m glad I did, now at least I know I have to run far far away if I ever see it again 😉 #youeitherloveitorhateit #marmitehater).
Okay, back to my point now. Thanks to Vegan Street Food I finally knew when to use some strange (for me back then) ingredients. In that way I got to know some of my now favourite ingredients, such as jackfruit, galangal, tamarind paste, tofu puffs, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves and many more super nice ingredients that add so much flavour to a dish. As a foodie and someone who loves cooking very much I couldn’t be more grateful. Next to discovering those ingredients I also discovered my love for Vietnamese food and my favourite dish of all time: Bahn Mi Buddha, seriously way too delicious.
My Vegan Travels – review
Since I’m so fond of Jackie’s recipes I really wanted to write something about her food. Then she gave me the chance to review her second book ‘My Vegan Travels’ and I couldn’t be more excited.
The food styled in a way you want to tear out the page and eat it.
The layout-style and style of photography is more or less the same as Vegan Street Food. Very beautiful pictures, not only is the food styled in a way you want to tear out the page and eat it, also the little vintage and travel objects make the pictures adorable. In between the recipes you can find tips on how to veganize food, travel stories and travel pictures that make you want to pack your bags and leave immediately.
You need to be open-minded (…) and awaken tastebuds you didn’t know you had. If you love that, just like I do, this book is like a good cooking workshop.
The recipes are very good and well written. The only obstacle might be the amount of ingredients (very long ingredient lists) and where to find them. You really need to be open-minded to go to an Asian specialty shop, discover new ingredients and awaken tastebuds you didn’t know you had. If you love that, just like I do, this book is like a good cooking workshop. (For the Belgians: I wrote a blogpost about where to find what ingredients in Sun Wah. Thank me later).
The word Jackie uses to describe her food is simple: comfortfood. It has to be fulfilling, bring you to a nice place (for her that means memories of her childhood or recollections of her travels) and, above all, taste delicious. I think this word perfectly describes these recipes.
My Vegan Travels contains several chapters. While Vegan Street Food is focusing on different Asian countries and their specific ways of cooking, My Vegan Travels covers a broader area. It starts in the UK, where Jackie is from, describing childhood memories and veganized versions of the food she loved most (for example, English pies, stews, roasts …). It goes through Europe (with vegan comfort versions of risotto, paella, croquetas, torta, lasagna and so on). Then back to Asia, which remains Jackie’s specialty (not only curries from several countries, also Bombay vegetable sandwich, dumplings, soups and much more), ending with ultimate comfort food from America (think of burgers, marinara vegball sub, Texan breakfast burrito …). With even desserts (such as vegan frangipane, panna cotta, upside-down cake, raspberry chai doughnuts, YES you’re not dreaming!) in each chapter, this book covers it all.
Soooo, are you curious already? Maybe not yet convinced? Want to actually try one of the recipes. Well, SURPRISE SURPRISE. Especially for you I am sharing not one, but TWO of Jackie’s recipes of My Vegan Travels. Both recipes I chose are super easy, quick and delicious!
Masala vegetable roti wrap
Ingredients (serves 4)
To make the slaw
- 1/4 small white cabbage, finely sliced
- 1/4 small red cabbage, finely sliced
- freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes or lemons
- about 1 tablespoon brown sugar or agave syrup
- 1 fresh red chili/chile, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine salt, to taste
To make the filling
- 2 small aubergines/eggplants, cut into 3-4 cm/1,5-inch pieces (or use 2 large waxy potatoes, diced and parboiled until just cooked)
- 1 brown onion, cut into 3-4 cm/1,5-inch pieces
- 1 green (bell) pepper, cut into 3-4 cm/1,5-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli/chile powder
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
To assemble and serve
- 4 large desi paratha (= a kind of roti) (for the Belgians: I used the wholemeal one of the brand Spring Home -> to be found in Sun Wah)
- 2-4 tablespoons mango or pear chutney, or whichever chutney you prefer (for the Dutchies & Belgians: I used the caramelized onion chutney of Dille en Kamille)
- plain vegan yoghurt
- handful of fresh mint and coriander/cilantro
- 1-2 fresh green chillies/chiles, finely sliced (optional)
Preparation (less than 30 minutes!)
Prepare the slaw by mixing together all the ingredients into a large bowl, then cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes, but preferably 1-2 hours, so that the cabbages soften in the juice and sugars. Check the seasoning and add more salt, chilli/chile or sugar as you prefer.
In a medium pan, add all the ingredients for the filling and place over medium-high heat. Stir well, bring to a simmer and then lower the heat. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Warm the paratha on both sides in a large frying pan/skillet or tawa. Spread a generous layer of chutney onto the bread, then layer on some slaw and 2-3 spoonfuls of the masala vegetables on top. Leave enough space on the bread so you can wrap the frankie. Drizzle with some yogurt and sprinkle with herbs and fresh chillies/chiles, if you like.
Serving this on the Gecko (Jackie’s street food trailer), we placed a piece of foil or baking parchment on the chopping board and constructed the frankie on top, keeping all the filling in a long rectangle down the centre of the bread. To fold, lift and fold in the bottom 3-5 cm/1-2 inches of the bread, then fold in each side, one at a time, firmly but gently, ensuring the filling is snugly wrapped, and leaving the top open. Wrap the foil or parchment around the sides of the bread to hold it in place, covering the bottom so the juices don’t leak, but leaving the top open. Serve with a napkin!
This is just a wonderful recipe, because it is super delicious (the combination of flavours is just right), it is fulfilling and it’s ready in less than half an hour. Hopefully you will find it as good as I do.
Tempeh ‘bacon’, lettuce and tomato sandwich
with gochujang mayonnaise
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 160g/5,5 oz smoked tempeh, sliced lengthways into 5 mm/1/4 inch thick slices (Belgians: gerookte tempeh kan je vinden in biowinkels – Het Natuurhuis, Biostation, Biohofke… – en Delhaize)
- 125 ml/1/2 cup tamari or light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (Belgians: ook te vinden in biowinkels, of zelf te maken)
- 1/2 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) (Belgians: te vinden in Sun Wah, lees hier waar exact)
- 1 tablespoon pomace or vegetable oil
- 2 thick slices of your favourite bread, lightly toasted
- handful of iceberg lettuce, sliced
- handful of watercress or lamb’s lettuce
- 1 large ripe tomato, sliced
- pickled chilies/chiles (optional)
Preparation (about 30 minutes)
Marinate the tempeh slices in the tamari or light soy sauce for 10 minutes.
Mix together the vegan mayonnaise and gochujang paste and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan/skillet, then add the marinated tempeh slices. Fry gently until they start to brown and become a little cripsy on the outside; about 3-4 minutes on each side. Place on paper towels to drain.
To build your sandwich, layer the bottom slice of the toasted bread with the lettuce and watercress, then top with the tomato slices. Generously drizzle with gochujang mayonnaise, then layer the fried tempeh slices over the top. Top with the second slice of toasted bread. Add a few pickled chillies/chiles if you like it with a bit more kick.
This vegan BLT is so delicious. The Korean Gochujang paste was new for me, but tastes so good mixed with vegan mayonnaise. It adds a special flavour to this ‘classic’ sandwich. Definitely worth trying!
*disclaimer. I didn’t have to write this review, it is not sponsored. I got a review copy, but that’s because I worked hard on my blog and I contacted Jackie myself because I really & honestly loved her first book. It was my own choice and I loved writing something about Jackie’s food, because it has inspired me so much. I know I’m super positive about this book, but everything I wrote is honest and is truly my opinion.*