Many Asian dishes are naturally vegan–i.e. contain no meat products and no dairy–or are easily adapted. It’s not surprising since fresh vegetables are a large part of our diet, coconut milk is our “milk” of choice, and cheese hardly shows up in any of our dishes.
So when I found out that my food writer friend Robin Asbell was organizing a virtual potluck to launch her new mega-book I was excited to participate. Big Vegan, Over 350 Recipes, No Meat, No Dairy, All Delicious is a celebration of just how satisfying and alluring plant based cuisine can be. The book contains many easy Asian-inspired recipes that are not quite traditional but are still very appealing. They include: “Tofu Pad Thai,” “Edamame Dumplings in Handmade Green-Tea Wrappers” and “Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass, Seitan, Sprouts and Basil.”
Robin is a Minnesota-based chef, food writer, and cooking teacher and an expert in natural foods. So you can be rest assured that her recipes are wholesome and tasty.
My contribution to the potluck is “New Potato Rendang with Green Beans.” Now my mom makes a mean beef rendang and I love her recipe. However, because it is such an involved process and uses a laundry list of ingredients that requires a trek to the Asian store, I never make it, preferring instead to wait until the next time I see mom again.
Granted Robin’s recipe doesn’t use traditional ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, nor the myriad spices, but that’s the beauty of it. All the ingredients are available at your neighborhood grocery store, the steps are simple, thus making the dish a lot more accessible to American home cooks.
I made the dish with no expectations and I’m definitely a fan! It isn’t as authentic as my mom’s rendang, but for as little effort as it takes (at least compared to her version!), it satisfies with a good approximation of Southeast Asian flavors. I’ll be making it again for sure.
Chronicle Books is giving away a copy of Big Vegan for my readers. If you’d like to win a copy, please leave a comment and tell me what your favorite Asian vegan dish is, or why you like rendang by November 7th. If you’re eating Asian, you’ve probably had several vegan dishes without even realizing it! Please don’t forget to leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win.
New Potato Rendang with Green Beans
Adapted from Big Vegan, Over 350 Recipes, No Meat, No Dairy, All Delicious (Chronicle Books, 2011) by Robin Asbell
In Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, rendang is most commonly made with beef but you can use your choice of meat, as well as vegetables, as this recipe demonstrates. The green beans at my grocery store were a little sad looking so I used sugar snap peas instead. Since I had some kaffir lime leaves in the freezer I tossed some in and I substituted ground coriander for the cloves.
Makes: 4 servings
1 large red Fresno chili, seeded
1/4 cup/30 g minced onion or shallot
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, zested
1 lime, zested
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup/240 ml coconut milk
2 Kaffir lime leaves, crushed to release their essential oils
1 lb/455 g fingerling or small new (baby) potatoes, halved
4 oz/115 g sugar snap peas or green beans, trimmed
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a coffee grinder or mini chopper, combine the chili, shallot, ginger, garlic, lime and lemon zests, turmeric, and coriander. Process to puree them to a smooth paste. If needed, add a little of the coconut milk to help it puree. Or use a mortar and pestle (which is what I did!).
In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Fry the paste until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and mix well. Add the potatoes and bring them to a simmer, stirring. Cover and check often, stirring and adding water as needed to keep the potatoes from sticking.
When the potatoes are almost tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, add the beans, carrot, tamari, and salt and keep stirring. Cook until the vegetables are tender, another 3 to 4 minutes (or cooked to your liking), and the sauce is completely thick and coats the vegetables. Squeeze half of the zested lime over the vegetables, taste, and add more as desired. Fish out the kaffir lime leaves and discard.
Serve hot with white rice.
Here some other rendang recipes to try:
And if you’d like to check out the rest of the Big Vegan Virtual Potluck, here are the links:
Green and Red Spaghetti
Bengali Curry of Cauliflower and Kidney Beans
Spanish Chickpea Fritters
Peanut Butter Tart with “Ganache”
Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins
Maple Barley Granola with Pecans
Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice
Bryanna Clark Grogan
Korean Miso-Tofu Soup
Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa