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Brotherly love #2: Asian with restrictions

s
sweetpotater Feb 26, 2008 09:05 AM

My little brother had so much success with his first attempt at cooking -- risotto and carrot soup -- that he wants to try again this weekend. Again, a dinner party to please a girl. Not the girl the first dinner party was aimed at, not the other girl he wound up kissing that night, but a third girl.

He wants Asian. Easy, right?

Well, there's a catch. She's vegan with wheat and soy allergies. Beyond summer rolls wrapped in rice paper, I'm stumped. Taking miso, soy, tofu, meat, fish out of play sorely limits my normally abundant Asian playbook. Ideas?

(He must REALLY like her, because he's somewhat obsessive about his carnivorism.)

  1. chowser Feb 26, 2008 09:10 AM

    Is there a particular Asian cuisine he'd like to do? Overall, Chinese would be pretty easy to do w/out wheat and soy--stir fries with rice. One thing he should do is read soy sauce labels. Some brands like Kikkoman have gluten.

    5 Replies
    1. re: chowser
      paulj Feb 26, 2008 09:53 AM

      Avoiding gluten in soy sauce is one thing, avoiding soy is another.

      1. re: paulj
        chowser Feb 26, 2008 10:15 AM

        Good catch--thanks. I don't know why I didn't make that connection...

        On second thought, it would be hard to make Chinese food w/out soy.

        1. re: chowser
          Emme Feb 26, 2008 09:09 PM

          no prob... use Bragg's amino acids instead of soy!

          1. re: Emme
            soypower Feb 26, 2008 09:55 PM

            i believe that bragg's is derived from soybeans...

            http://www.bragg.com/products/liquida...

            1. re: soypower
              Emme Feb 26, 2008 09:57 PM

              aaah!!! totally forgot that... i was thinking about the gluten side of it! thanks soypower, i'm a dolt!

    2. saltwater Feb 26, 2008 09:22 AM

      Dessert is easy. Make sticky rice with mango. Do read the labels carefully, often a seemingly innocuous paste will have fermented wheat in it.

      Edit: also, be sure he knows that "black beans" in the context of Chinese food are likely fermented soy beans.

      1. g
        guate Feb 26, 2008 10:18 AM

        Maybe red or green Thai curry with coconut. Try a variety of vegetables - carrots, green beans, potatoes, parsnips, eggplant... maybe top with cashews for protein.

        It would go great with the spring rolls. For the dressing for the spring rolls maybe a mix of plum sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, chiles or chile sauce, & ginger. Just tell him to be sure to check labels for any packaged sauces he might use - for instance I am not sure about the plum sauce.

        In case these ingredients come up: Many vegans do not eat white sugar because it can be bleached using bones and it is impossible to tell from packaging what method was used. Similarly some vegans avoid plain white vinegar, though I believe there is no reason to do so, just a myth that goes round about it being bleached like sugar, but good to know in case she avoids it. Of course you know gelatin comes from bones as well, but make sure your brother knows too because a surprising number of people do not. No honey either. If in doubt, check with the girl, she should be happy he cares.

        I am guessing that if they drink at all they won't be drinking beer, what with the wheat allergy (although there are wheat free beers), but he should be aware that some wines are not vegan. He can also search online for "vegan wine" to find lists of those that are. Here's a place to start: http://www.veggiewines.co.uk/popularw...

        3 Replies
        1. re: guate
          saltwater Feb 26, 2008 10:38 AM

          Thai curry paste is often made with shrimp paste in it, so the ingredients would have to be checked on a commercial brand. Also, be aware that usually a vegetarian would use soy sauce and other soy products to replace fish sauce and shrimp paste and the like. That won't work here. Shrimp paste can just be left out, though, if you make it by hand.

          1. re: saltwater
            g
            guate Feb 26, 2008 05:43 PM

            Excellent point about the curry paste. It shouldn't be hard to find a vegetarian version though. My sister is allergic to shrimp, my husband has never eaten any meat in his life, and I am vegetarian as well and we all make curry using packaged pastes.

            (The brand I have on hand right now is Maesri and it is veggie, wheat free, and soy free. The can is a little smaller than a tuna can and I bought it at a 99 Ranch Market in Arizona. It does contain sugar and despite what I said above this may be okay with her. Not everybody who maintains a vegan diet follows this guideline and they still pretty reasonably call themselves vegan as it is a difficult thing to track, especially in foods like this. It will just depend on where she draws the lines. I would guess that if she couldn't eat sugar she would have said so along with the other restrictions, but that is just a guess.)

            I actually don't normally use soy sauce in my curry either and it turns out great.

            The stir-fry ideas without soy sauce of others on here are great as well and sound very tasty, though I think I would still go with curry because I find coconut impresses people.

            Oh, oh, oh!! Or maybe go an extra course and make it coconut soup (like tom kha kai minus chicken & fish sauce) AND serve stir fry. If he isn't concerned with strict authenticity, and I think we can give that up at this point, curry paste could play a role in this as well to keep it simple. Veggie stock (check for soy and wheat if pre-packaged), curry paste, mushrooms, coconut milk, salt to taste, and maybe extra ginger or lemongrass seems like a strong start with whatever other veggies he chooses. I like tomatoes for freshness - tossed in for the last minute or so of cooking so they heat through but don't really cook. Topped with cilantro and lime juice. She would guaranteed be impressed.

            Then one of the stir fries would go great and not be too similar to the soup. Just choose at least some different veggies. Miss Needle's description sounds very nice and simple.

            The soup and spring rolls could be made ahead of time, and veggies chopped, just leaving stir frying during the dinner party.

            I am really enjoying this discussion, these are definitely some of my go-to dishes, with a few extra restrictions. I used to live in an art collective with lots of vegetarians and some vegans. We had weekly dinners together and these were always hits.

            1. re: guate
              saltwater Feb 27, 2008 07:58 PM

              Tom Kha Kai would be great. It's the kha that makes that go round (well, also I like mine with nam prik pao, just get a veggie version of it, perhaps the brand that guate suggests above.)

              For some reason guate's mention of not using soy sauce in curry reminds me that fried rice can be prepared without soy as well. Has anyone tried it with just salt and some other flavor? If you have a good recipe, please share. I'm the sort who uses lard, salty ham, fish sauce, etc. I think something good could be made with some sherry, mushrooms, the usual peas or diced carrots or whatnot, scallions, etc. Just use veggie oil, perhaps good cold-pressed peanut oil?

        2. Miss Needle Feb 26, 2008 10:59 AM

          Vegetables (including mushrooms) are delicious stir-fried with some garlic, ginger, salt and finished off with some toasted sesame oil. Thinking of Asian vegan wheat-free soy-free protein source is pretty difficult. The only thing I can think of is aduki beans which tend to be used in dessert as opposed to the main course.

          1. c
            cimui Feb 26, 2008 11:01 AM

            This is a toughie! But you do have a few options:

            iddli with sambar
            dosai
            vada
            cachumbar salad with toasted cumin seeds
            pappadum

            none of these has dairy, wheat or soy (unless you use ghee to fry). it takes a little bit of practice to spread the dosai very thin in the pan, so he might want to make it at least once in advance. masala filling (primary ingredients: potatoes, peas, cashew nuts) has no wheat, soy or dairy.

            i've made a vegetarian (soy and wheat free) massaman curry, before. it's not too bad. take a standard recipe (i.e. http://www.cooking.com/recipes/static...), omit the meat, and use more nuts for protein.

            you can cetainly make stirfries without soy sauce. i almost never use soy sauce in mine. (sautee garlic in hot oil, add a variety of veggies chosen for texture and color contrast, serve over rice.)

            1. soypower Feb 26, 2008 08:42 PM

              -rice noodle soup with vegetable broth, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and green onions.

              -sushi rolls w/ rice and assorted stir fried or marinated vegetables

              -stir fried baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms

              -dry fried green beans

              also found this recipe for gluten free soy sauce substitute:

              http://www.recipes4us.co.uk/Specials%...

              1. Emme Feb 26, 2008 09:55 PM

                far east... dal? http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=127

                do a twist on spring rolls w/ garbanzo beans, or use garbanzo beans as protein

                sushi-ish rolls (use bragg's for soy) http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=102

                pineapple fried rice (sub bragg's and navy beans or garbanzos for tofu
                )http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=479

                thai salad http://www.ivu.org/recipes/eastasia/minced.html

                a variation on mung beans and rice
                sub mung beans for the meat in this recipe http://foodallergies.about.com/od/recipes/r/soyfreelarb.htm

                tempura w/ gluten free batter try sweet potatoes, parsley, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant, carrots, zucchini http://foodallergies.about.com/od/rec...

                what a great bro you got!

                1. d
                  dcandohio Feb 27, 2008 03:34 PM

                  Stir fry vegetables in oil with garlic and ginger, plus corriander (it adds a certain something) and serve on rice or rice noodles. What about vegan sushi? The seaweed nori should be OK - he can use cucumber, avocado, sprouts, carrots. Rice wine vinegared rice...just no soy sauce. How about a salad of shredded mango with shredded cabbage and sprouts? If "Asian" includes Indian - he has many more choices - dal, chana masala...

                  1. soypower Feb 27, 2008 05:57 PM

                    i forgot to mention stir fried rice ovalettes. usually made w/ soy sauce and beef but you could sub that out w/ the vegan soy substitute and mushrooms. really filling and quite yummy.

                    http://sakurambokitchen.blogspot.com/...

                    1. 4
                      4Snisl Feb 27, 2008 06:59 PM

                      How about a stir-fry of assorted mushrooms (shitakes, oysters, enoki, etc.) with fresh ginger, garlic, xiaoxing wine, scallions, and toasted sesame oil? To give a salty bite to this without using soy sauce, tamari, fish sauce, miso, etc., I'd throw in some salted fermented black beans.

                      To accompany, baby bok choy quartered and braised with ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper. As a starch, steamed jasmine rice topped with toasted black sesame seeds.

                      To finish, I might do grilled fresh pineapple spears drizzled with raspberry puree and sprinkled with fresh mint. Not particularly Asian, but pretty.

                      Good luck to him!

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