Kale em’ with kindness and a cruelty free meal
Did you know, that as a millennial, you run an 85% chance of having a Vegan friend? Of course, we’re being cynical. It isn’t a bad thing at all, in fact hats off to them for their dedication to the cause and self-discipline. One of us tried it once, and it lasted all of six hours until the thought of having to consume ‘nutritional yeast’ instead of cheese became too much to bare. Be that as it may, the V-word can make even the most confident-carnivorous or even vegetarian cook shiver and easily slide into a panic attack. However, if food blogging has taught us anything, it’s that Vegans are foodies too. Say it with us ‘VEGANS ARE FOODIES TOO!’… How long until we can get the T-shirts?
“Do bees have feelings? Is honey bee-milk? Can you milk a bee?”
As a little disclaimer, we aren’t vegan, and we are sure that doesn’t come as a surprise. After hours and hours of research, the recipe this week is in theory cruelty free. Be that as it may, nothing goes smoothly, and it wasn’t until 6 hours before posting this piece that we suddenly realised that it contained honey. Imagine us both, in our separate homes bolting upright in bed with Home-Alone style shocked faces, realising how badly we messed up.
“It seems we may have bitten off a little more of the proverbial cauliflower than we could chew.”
Slightly less stylised in reality, but a little bit of theatre never hurt anyone. It seems the ‘honey debate’ is one of the biggest in Veganism because it is still a product of an animal. This inspires endless ethical questions: Do bees have feelings? Is honey bee-milk? Can you milk a bee? Imagine how small the udders are… We’re confused. Basically, we don’t want to get involved, but feel free to swap the honey for brown sugar should your guests object… which you should be totally prepared for.
“The halved aubergines and rice are substantial, being vegan doesn’t mean you have to go hungry. We promise, vegan or not, this dish is always a winner. “
This honey conundrum is actually a pretty good analogy of how difficult Veganism is to tackle for a standard cook; we now totally understand why there is many a blog solely dedicated to its cause. It seems we may have bitten off a little more of the proverbial cauliflower than we could chew. Okay, you can see from out photographs that we got there in the end, but the moral of the story is, always research as much as possible before diving head first into a world that isn’t yours. Assumption makes an ass out of yourself, and we want to do all we can to maintain the ‘effortless’ culinary superhero illusion, that we so solemnly uphold.
Here is a top tip; if you want to tackle vegan food, stick to Asian. Many East-Asian countries have a plethora of strong flavoured, and filling ingredients that are A) far from boring and B) completely vegan. The miso aubergines come from a dish we’ve adapted from a Japanese dish called Nasu Dengaku. Miso is derived from seaweed and is packed with a sweet and salty flavour. This is combined with the holy trinity of Asian ingredients (garlic, chilli, ginger) which packs it with even more flavour and aroma. The halved aubergines and rice are substantial, being vegan doesn’t mean you have to go hungry. We promise, vegan or not, this dish is always a winner.
Cooking Asian food gives you an opportunity to visit some of the fantastic Asian supermarkets Manchester has to offer. We urge you to go spend an afternoon in Chinatown. There are so many amazing ingredients to get to grips with, and any foodie will be like a kid in a candy store. If T had left G wandering the aisles of Wing Fat Supermarket she may have lost her for hours upon end, luckily we managed to keep tabs on her. We left with an array of bargains; popping in for some pak choi and leaving with 2 serving sized bowls, rice dishes, spoons, tea cups, a serving spoon and a bottle of Sake all for £36.
Before you say anything, we would like to point out that we understand the utter hypocrisy of our posts this week. It was all about meat on Side Dish and now we are banging on about Veganism, but a little bit diversity never hurt anyone.
Vegan’s, please don’t be offended by our misinformed post this week, you’re always welcome around our dinner-table, but bring your own cheese.
No aubergines were harmed in the making of this blog post…
See you next Thursday,
Miso Aubergines with sticky rice (Nasu Dengaku)
Three sachets of Miso paste *
2 tsp. runny honey (or brown sugar)
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. finely chopped/grated ginger
Half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Four Aubergines, sliced in half lengthwise
500g sticky Thai jasmine rice (or similar)
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
Handful of roughly chopped coriander, plus extra for serving
Sesame seeds and soy sauce to serve
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
To make the marinade, combine the miso, honey, sake, oil, ginger and garlic in a bowl with a half a cup of warm water. Mix with a fork until it becomes loose and a smooth texture. Score the aubergines in a criss-cross pattern, pour the marinade on and leave for at least 15 minutes. Roast them in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes in a large metal baking tray.
While you wait, prepare the rice. Wash it in a sieve before putting it in a heavy based saucepan with water. The rice to water ratio should be 1:2, so about a litre. Add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and turn down to a low simmer. Cook like this for 25 minutes.
Chop the coriander and spring onions and stir through the sticky rice. Add a small amount of sesame oil if you need to loosen it up. Place the rice at the bottom of a large bowl, and serve the aubergines on top. Eat with some freshly steamed pak choi, and a little sake.
* Miso soup paste often contains fish, and therefore isn’t vegan. Make sure you are buying the paste, which you can find at any Chinese supermarket.