5 Versatile Ingredients You Should Try Today

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If you’re looking for “new” plant-based items to use for your next meal, you’ve come to the right place.

Yishuai, a designer by profession who runs the blog morethanveggies, is here to help. As someone who shares recipes and tips on how to eat plant-based in Singapore, as well as how to travel on a plant-based diet, she’s had the opportunity to discover, test and cook a lot of foods. But she still gets pleasantly surprised when she comes across something she’s never had before.

Here's Yishuai  

We asked her to reveal some of her latest finds, which have since established a place on her table and in her kitchen. Maybe they’ll soon appear on yours too?

1. Grated Japanese yam
“It acts as a fantastic flavourless binder or egg replacer for dishes that need binding and moisture, like veggie burger patties, plant-based okonomiyaki and takoyaki. It holds my lentil quinoa veggie patties extremely well. It’s also generally cheaper than flaxseed in this part of the world.”

Thanks to the yam, her yummy okonomiyaki is easy to make

2. Quinoa

“I only started eating this two years ago. I love it mainly for its high protein content; it’s also a complete protein. Although I don’t like the taste on its own (it tastes slightly grassy to me), it’s very easy to incorporate into dishes like lentils, soups, salads and porridge. I simply mix it into rice when I make steamed rice. I only like yellow quinoa, though, as red ones take so long to cook and is often oddly crunchy.”

3. Aquafaba
“I only started using this a year ago. It has endless potential. Not only can it be an egg replacer, it can also be used in any dish where you want some moisture and fluffiness. I blend it with tofu and other seasonings to make tofu scramble or use this mixture in place of egg in dishes like tomato tofu scramble. It’s also the base for my plant-based mayonnaise. It can even be used to make cake frosting!”

(If it’s your first time to hear about aquafaba, it’s referred to as “bean water” – the liquid you get inside a can of chickpeas or from cooking legumes.)

There’s no egg in her tomato tofu scramble, only aquafaba

4. Black salt

“Although it’s widely known for its application in tofu scrambles, it can be used in many more areas. It has saltiness plus umami, thus it has much more flavour than table salt. Heat actually reduces the egg taste and brings out the umami. I use it everywhere – in stir-fries, soups, noodles and rice. Even greens lightly sautéed in oil and a generous pinch of black salt are flavourful enough without any other seasoning.”

5. Tempeh
“It’s something that I’ve only started using in recent years. Although it’s cheap and easily available in markets and supermarkets, many young Singaporeans aren’t familiar with it. Many people don’t really like it because it has a strong fermented beany taste on its own (tempeh in Indonesia doesn’t have such a strong smell). But the taste is actually very easy to remove or mask, which is why tempeh is traditionally cooked with strong spices. It’s super versatile in its original form, or when blended into a paste – which I use as the base for tempeh bak kwa.”

Yishuai’s tempeh bak kwa recipe was featured in the Hello Singapore show

What do you think? Have you ever worked with any of these foods and ingredients? Do tell us about your experiences!

Photos courtesy of Yishuai and morethanveggies

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Charmaine Baylon

As long as she has her dogs – and can read, write and daydream as often as she wants – then life is good.

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