Vegan Vietnamese Bittermelon Soup

Mhhhhh guys, the world is small and full of miracles. Go hunt them! I used to live in Vietnam, from 2012 to 2013 (you can read a lot about it on this site) and just now, I am staying with a good friend from over there, here in Houston Texas, where she lives now with her boyfriend. She only got here herself a bit over a month ago, so we are extremely lucky to cross paths and I am enjoying every minute with those two. Especially when you travel a lot like this, it shows you how important friendship is, spending time together, simply being silly, sharing meals, and so on. I’ve missed it and this is like a spa treatment for my soul.

But not only! Yum yum yum, as many of you might know, Vietnamese cuisine is one of the tastiest in the world. Over here, most people just know ‘Pho’, but there is an extreme variety of soups and stir fried / grilles vegetables and of course, meat / fish and all kinds of it in Vietnamese cuisine. A few very important ingredients used frequently are fish sauce, shallots, garlic, spring onion, soy sauce, chili, dried mushroom powder, pepper, salt and sugar.

But fear not! Talented chef Khan is showing me the basics of super tasty Vegan Vietnamese food. As always, you just switch out the parts that are ‘fishy’ *haha, with vegan ones. There is Vegan Fish Sauce available on the market, but we usually just use soy sauce.

Here we go with the first recipe from the Vegan Vietnamese Kitchen with Khan :). Actually, it is 2 recipes in one, because the stuffing for the bitter melon is also the spring roll stuffing! So let’s start with that.

  • Vegan Stuffing for Vietnamese Spring Roll & Bitter Melon
    Chop the following into very fine strings:Taro root or Sweet Potato (peeled)
    Carrot
    Spring Onion
    White Onion
    Glass Noodle (Tapiocha Based)
    Smoked or Fried Tofu
    And then, the most important part, some of this mushroom:
    Wood ear/ Cats ear dried mushroom
    for picture and explanation (http://wanderingchopsticks.blogspot.com/2007/10/treewood-ear-fungusmushroom.html)

Combine all your colorful strips in a big bowl and start seasoning! don’t be stingy here:
From a lot to a little ;)

Black Pepper
Mushroom Powder
Soy Sauce
Salt
Sugar

Now if you are going to do spring rolls, Khan uses a wonderful Pastry bought at an Asian market that has very few ingredients (Wheat Flour, Coconut Oil, Water and Salt). They are sooo great! I promised a Video of wrapping spring rolls but lost all pictures on my phone, so hopefully we’ll make some more this week. But it is very easy and once wrapped, fry them in some coconut oil or vegetable oil until golden brown and crispy, enjoy with a sweet and sour sauce!

Bitter melon might not be everyone’s favorite vegetable on earth. BUT, cooked in this broth until tender with the tasty mushroom stuffing, you can make it happen! Bitter foods are good for us and we don’t eat enough of it because our taste buds are used to sweet. Bitter melon is very low in calories, has lots of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants! On top of that, it is easily digested and helps your digestive works overall. In addition, it is a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium. So give it a try y’all!

For the bitter melon soup, go ahead and cut your bitter melon bought at the Asian grocery store in half. With a thin knife or chopstick, empty out the center and all its seeds. Now I would add a bit of ground Flax Seeds with water to the mixture, or any other egg replacer, to make it stick better, but it is not necessary. Stuff your halves with the mushroom and veggie mixture!

Bring a pot with water to a boil. While it heats up, add cilantro, mushroom powder, lemon grass, lightly crushed garlic, lots of crushed black pepper, and a bit of soy sauce to create the super tasty broth. Carefully bring the water to a low simmer and add in the stuffed bitter melons. Top up with a good amount of greens (spinach, kale, baby kale, bok choy..) and let simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour. Of course you an also add in the greens at the very end to keep more nutrients alive!

Your house will start smelling sooo good! Once ready to eat, take out the bitter melon and cut in smaller slices. I like to eat this with a bit of rice on one side of the bowl, layering it with the bitter melon pieces, than adding all the goodness of greens and broth from the other side like in this picture here!

IMG_0075

Any questions? Enjoy!

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