BY RAYMOND BILL
One of my initial fears in pursuing a plant-based lifestyle was that I would be giving up the foods I have enjoyed my entire life; in reality, I have gained so much more by allowing myself to explore ethnic cuisines that I would have only thought to have while dining out. My family enjoys many different Asian dishes, but I never thought I could recreate them at home. This week, I tackled Fried Rice and Tofu Eggrolls. This is a beginner recipe with great shortcuts, making it ideal for any night of the week.
Fried Rice- What you will need:
- 4 cups cooked white or brown rice (cook ahead of time and chill for best results)
- 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup optional veggies (bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms…)
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce (use to your taste)
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 6 oz JUST egg (plant-based egg substitute)
Prepare rice as directed on the package and set aside to cool. Also prepare the JUST egg as you would prepare scrambled eggs and set aside. In a pan, on medium-high heat, combine diced onions, carrots, peas and optional veggies with garlic, ginger and canola oil and sauté until they have softened. Using pre-diced or frozen vegetables will save prep time and be just as flavorful in the end.
Stir in the precooked rice and mix all ingredients together, stirring infrequently so the rice can caramelize slightly. Try not to let the rice get too dry, more canola oil may be necessary. Finish by adding the egg substitute, soy sauce, and sesame oil, then garnish with chopped green onion. This dish is great to have on hand for leftovers!
Egg Rolls- What you will need:
- Egg roll wrappers
- 1 16oz bag tri-color coleslaw mix
- ½ Block firm tofu, diced
- Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Start by sauteing the diced tofu in canola oil until light brown. This gives it texture and brings out more flavor (you could also use a touch of sesame oil but a little goes a long way). Add to the tofu the coleslaw mix and sauté just until wilted. It is important to not overcook the cabbage at this stage or the egg rolls will be mushy later. Once the coleslaw tofu mixture is complete, set aside. Heat canola oil in a pan on medium high heat. Now to prepare the egg rolls! To get the perfect roll, it will simply take practice. The good news is that, so long as they are sealed, they do not have to look perfect to taste delicious!
Place your mixture into an open egg roll wrapper and wrap like a burrito. Just before closing the wrapper, wet the edges with a tiny amount of water. This will allow the egg roll wrapper to seal to itself, keeping all the ingredients inside. Once the egg rolls are all prepared and the oil has been heated to about 350 degrees, fry them until they are golden brown, turning as needed. Having tried these in the oven and air-fryer, there is no substitute for good old fashioned deep frying!
That’s all there is to it! This recipe will serve a family of 4 easily or make a great side dish for a larger family to enjoy. Once you have mastered the technique, feel free to modify the recipe to make it your own. I like to add crushed seaweed into my egg rolls and sometimes I will leave out the tofu if I am serving with another high-protein dish.
What matters most is to not be intimidated when approaching a foreign cuisine, or a plant-based diet. There are many dishes that can be made at a beginner level that will impress your friends and family alike. Leaving meat out of your diet on occasion is not only good for your health, but it also allows you to explore other creative options, allowing for a more diverse collection of recipes!