If you're after a nourishing bowl of delicious vegetables, crunchy tofu, and slightly sweet sauce, this Vegan Vietnamese Rainbow Salad With Sesame Crusted Tofu is for you!
Some say that vegans eat like rabbits and that's not entirely wrong! We do love a big bowl of veggies, especially is it's accompanied by some tasty tofu and even better if it has a more cultural taste. Impress your friends and family with this healthy, vegan salad that will fill their bellies and their hearts.
This recipe was submitted by one of our lovely customers, Amy, who entered the F&F Recipe Competition. She is a major foodie and loves perfecting different cuisines. Scroll down for the recipe and read Amy's advice on cooking with new ingredients, the most vegan-friendly country she's visited, and her favourite products at F&F!
Interview with Amy
How long have you been baking/cooking for and what is your advice to people that are just getting started?
I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve been cooking for, but it was probably not long after learning to walk. In my family, food has always been the centre point in bringing everyone together. Some of my fondest memories are helping my mum and sisters in the kitchen.
My best advice for someone just starting out is to research your favourite recipes. Pinterest and food blogs are my favourite source of inspiration when I’m looking to try something new. Also, make it enjoyable (as cooking should be!), and put on your favourite playlist and get your friends and family together.
Do you find it intimidating trying recipes from another culture? Is it hard to source these ingredients at your local supermarket?
Using new and unfamiliar ingredients and techniques can often be a little daunting, but I also find exploring food from different cultures interesting and if you’re passionate about cooking it helps develop your skills. I enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. Not every dish is going to be successful but you always learn a little bit from everything you do.
For most ingredients, I use I can source them from my local supermarket or I use an alternative as close as possible. There has been the odd ingredient that I’ve had to order online.
What is your favourite meal ever and have you been able to 'veganise' it?
My favourite meal ever would have to be fettuccine alfredo which is traditionally made with a cream and butter-based sauce. To veganise it I use only two ingredients: cashews and water, to make a base for the sauce. I usually keep a large jar in my fridge as it can be used in different ways. I can add it to soup, use it as a creamy salad dressing or even as a dipping sauce. I can then add ingredients to the sauce for extra flavour. For example when I’m using it as a pasta sauce I often like to add lemon and garlic or nutritional yeast if I want a more cheesy flavour. It’s a lot lighter and healthier than a traditional alfredo and I find I actually prefer it now.
How long have you been shopping at F&F and what are your favourite products?
I first discovered Flora and Fauna about 2 years ago. My favourite products would have to be anything from Acure
. I’m a beauty therapist so finding a cruelty free and vegan-friendly line was important for me. I’m also obsessed with Eco. Essential oils
, my current go-to is combining their Jasmine
essential oil with May Chang
What is your reason for choosing a plant-based diet?
My initial reasons for transitioning to a more plant-based diet was for my health. I’ve always been interested in nutrition and wanted to make sure I was fuelling my body the healthiest way I could. As I explored I did a lot more research and watched documentaries on animal agriculture. I couldn’t believe how horrible it all was and how I’d been blind to it for so long. I had always claimed to be an animal lover but realised that I couldn’t be and still support these industries.
What do your family and friends think of your recipes? Can they tell they are vegan?
My friends and family enjoy my cooking almost as much as I love cooking for them. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of open-minded people, many of my close friends are also vegan. A lot of the time they can’t tell the difference depending on what I’m cooking, and even when they can it’s usually met with positive feedback.
As an avid foodie and traveller, where is the most vegan-friendly place you've visited?
Out of all the places I have travelled, Canada would have to be the most vegan-friendly place I’ve been to. I spent two years from 2016 living in Alberta and British Columbia and was surprised and impressed by the openness to veganism and the amount of amazing plant-based restaurants.
Vietnamese rainbow salad with sesame-crusted tofu
For the dressing:
1/3 cup hot water
1 1/2 Tbs coconut sugar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, diced finely
1/2 red cayenne chilli, sliced thinly
Juice of 1 small lime
For the tofu:
200g extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
1/4 cup of plain flour
1/3 cup of water
1/2 tsp sriracha
1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
2 1/2 Tbs sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame oil (for frying)
For the salad:
1 1/2 cups of red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup of rocket
1/2 a medium carrot, julienned
1/2 a Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 a small red capsicum, thinly sliced
1/3 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
1/3 cup green onions
1/3 cup roasted cashews
For the dressing:
- Mix together the water and sugar together in a small bowl until sugar is completely dissolved
- Add all other ingredients to the bowl
- Let rest in the fridge until needed
For the tofu:
- In a medium bowl mix together flour, water and sriracha to form a consistency similar to pancake batter
- In a separate bowl mix together breadcrumbs, sesame, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper
- Take some tofu and dip into the batter mixture
- Wipe off excess batter and transfer to your breadcrumb mixture
- Repeat steps for all tofu and place on a plate ready for frying
- Add enough sesame oil in a pan to lightly coat the base
- Once the pan is heated to medium-high heat add tofu to the pan
- Reduce heat to medium and cook tofu, turning once each side has become golden brown in colour
- Remove and place tofu on a paper towel to remove excess oil
For the salad:
- Prepare all salad ingredients and separate into two separate bowls
- Divide tofu and add on top of salad
- Garnish with cashews, cilantro and spring onions
- Finish off with dressing
*The dressing is great to make ahead of time, which also brings out the flavour more
**For a GF substitute rice flour, gluten-free breadcrumbs and a gluten-free soy sauce, otherwise known as Tamari.