Wonton Soup

WonTons-5

I have always loved wonton soup. Having spent a large portion of the 90s on military bases, which were quite culturally homogeneous, most of the “exotic” restaurants we had a chance to try were Chinese buffets. I loved them (in my pre-veg days), and was sad when I became vegetarian and couldn’t find meat-free wonton soup in restaurants.

WonTons-3

My parents had some in-depth cookbooks for people who wanted to learn Chinese cuisine, and as a teenager I experimented with making wontons filled with mashed tofu (instead of the recommended ground pork) and green onions. They were good but tended to leak tofu, and I made them occasionally in high school and university until I discovered a local buddhist vegan restaurant that makes divine wonton soup. Padmanadi is an awesome restaurant for anyone visiting Edmonton, veg or no. However, they are a 30+ minute drive away, and I wanted a recipe I could whip up at home.

WonTons-4

Trial and error resulted in a recipe that uses gluten flour in the filling for wontons that stay together while being cooked, but aren’t too gummy or rubbery. White pepper and five-spice powder give the broth a great flavour, and I heartily recommend adding your favourite vegetables, thinly-sliced, before serving. If you can’t find egg-free wonton wrappers, try using thin dumpling wrappers instead. I’ve used both, and dumpling wrappers are the ones used in the photos above.

Wonton Soup

An original recipe by Agent Minty

Makes 36 wontons

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 block (about 220 g) of medium or “traditional” tofu (not drained)
  • 1/4 can of chopped water chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soya sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 coarsely chopped scallion
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
  • 1/2 cup gluten powder (vital wheat gluten, seitan powder, etc)
  • 1 package vegan wonton wrappers
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • your preferred chopped vegetables: I like baby bok chou, sliced carrots, whole baby corn, and even a bit of cauliflower.
  • ~ 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1/4 tsp each ground white pepper and 5-spice powder
  • 2 Tbsp soya sauce

Instructions:

  1. Puree tofu in a food processor for about 20 seconds until mostly smooth but still a bit gritty.
  2. Add water chestnuts, soya sauce, ginger paste, water, chopped scallion, white pepper, and five-spice powder, and pulse a few times until incorporated but not too smooth.
  3. Add in gluten flour and pulse repeatedly until the texture is like cookie dough.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to let the gluten develop.
  5. Pinch off 1-2 tsp-sized lumps of filling and place in the centre of the wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper and press to seal.
  6. Continue filling wontons, laying them on a single layer on a plate or tray to dry slightly.
  7. Prepare chopped vegetables and set aside.
  8. Prepare your broth – the miso paste, pepper, soya sauce, etc. are just recommended amounts for one large or two small servings (about 6 cups of broth). Add garlic, sriracha, ginger, or other seasonings to your taste.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Toss in the wontons you wish to eat (about 7 or 8 per person), and cook about 5 minutes, until they float.
  10. Meanwhile, transfer chopped vegetable to simmering broth and cook for the last two minutes.
  11. Transfer cooked wontons to the broth and add chopped scallions on top. Serve.
  12. Unused wontons can be frozen, uncooked, and tossed directly into boiling water to thaw when needed.

Meatless Meatballs for the Somewhat Lazy

I’m not a huge lover of mock beef – for me, its only uses are in tacos, lasagna, and as meatballs.

 

Meatballs on spaghetti

 

These meatballs, in particular. Soft enough to break with a fork after being soaked in sauce, yet tough enough to not break down in sauce, either. A tasty addition to your favourite spaghetti recipe. This winter, I’m going to try serving them in a sweet-and-sour sauce like my mom did when I was an omnivore kid – I’ll let you know if it works.

 

The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is. Mix stuff together, bake in oven. You’ll need only about 10 minutes of hands-on time, so it’s perfect if you want something hearty but are feeling lazy, or want something that you can make with your kids. Keep in mind that when I say that you have to bake this for a long time, I really mean it – 40 minutes is needed, even though they’ll look “done” after 20.

 

Vegan Meatballs – recipe by Agent Minty

Makes approximately 2 dozen 1-inch balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (12oz/340g) vegan “ground round” or similar
  • 3 Tbsp red wine
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 7 Tbsp (well packed) gluten powder

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 390F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except gluten powder, and mix well.
  3. Add half of gluten powder, and stir well.
  4. Add last of gluten powder tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring between additions.
  5. After adding last of gluten, knead with hands for about two minutes, until it starts to ball together.
  6. Form into 1-inch balls.Uncooked Meatballs
  7. Place balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  8. Spray balls generously with cooking spray (I used an olive-oil baking spray), or brush with oil.
  9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, shaking sheet halfway through to turn over the meatballs.
  10. Turn off the oven and let meatballs cool inside for at least 10 minutes.
    Meatballs will have shrunken noticeably by this point!Meatballs (1 of 5)
  11. Store in a sealed container for a few days as is, if desired.
  12. Add to hot spaghetti sauce and simmer for 10 minutes before serving.Meatballs in sauce

Barbecue

Mrs. Minty suggested we have a barbecue today because the weather feels almost spring-like. As we had already gone grocery shopping and had not the Yves Italian Sausage we usually like, I offered to make some veggie dogs from scratch.

Veggie dog and salad

A grilled veggie dog and salad is a great springtime dinner!

This recipe is via Vegan Dad, and we’ve made it a few times with success. Like many gluten-based recipes, it’s forgiving and flexible – change the beans, change the spices, change the liquid. I could see someone making “beer brats” by using a cube of mock beef bouillon in a cup of flat beer, instead of a cup of vegetable broth, plus appropriate spices.

These veggie dogs are durable enough to stay intact on a grill, and are significantly cheaper than store-bought ones: 88c for the beans (of which I only used 1/4), 50c for the V-8, and less than $2 for the gluten flour. Six wieners = about 60c each, as opposed to $1.20 each from the store!

And, since I mentioned that I’m trying to watch calories, each wiener is just under 100 calories each.

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup pinto beans, (or other beans with thin-ish skins… I used Fava, and navy or black-eyed would work as well)
– 1 cup cold vegetable broth (I used 2/3 c V-8 and 1/3 c Knorr veg broth)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 tablespoons soy sauce

– 1 tsp salt
– 2 cloves garlic, grated (with a microplane, or very finely minced)
– 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
– 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed (I omitted because we didn’t have any)
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– Several dashes fresh black pepper

1. Before mixing your ingredients, get your steaming apparatus ready, bring water to a full boil. The rest of the recipe comes together very quickly.
2. Have ready 6 sheets of tin foil. In a large bowl, mash the pinto beans until no whole ones are left. Throw all the other ingredients together in the order listed and mix with a fork. Divide dough into 6 even parts. Place one part of dough into tin foil and mold into about a 5 inch log. Wrap dough in tin foil, like a tootsie roll. Don’t worry too much about shaping it, it will snap into shape while it’s steaming because this recipe is awesome.

Uncooked dough on tinfoil

Yes, I know what it looks like….

And it gets wrapped up ready for steaming.

And it gets wrapped up ready for steaming.

Steaming

Steaming

Unwrapping the weiners after steaming

Unwrapping the wieners after they have cooled.

3. Place wrapped sausages in steamer and steam for 40 minutes.

Sausages can be frozen. To cook, grill for 10 minutes or slice and pan-fry.