Nyonya Style Faux-Fish Curry

Nyonya (also spelt Nonya) or Peranakan cuisine is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian cooking. Although they use a lot of shrimp paste, we still like this unique cuisine’s aromatic tanginess which is nicely blended with spices and herbs. Even without shrimp paste, it is still quite interesting and different.

nyonya style faux-fish curry (1280x886)

The first time we were introduced to this aromatic cuisine was at Eight Treasures Restaurant in Singapore in 2010. Some of you may remember my post about this place and its food some time ago. If you don’t then it means you’re not following my posts. In that case, well, have a nice life :)

Anyway, we had this particular vegan version of Singapore Nyonya Curry at Eight Treasures. Of course, they didn’t give me the recipe. I did ask! In fact, the owner said something like this: “If you have my recipe, I might have to kill you.” Well, I’m still alive but I don’t have her recipe as you may have figured it out yourself. What I have, though, a non-vegan cookbook on Nyonya cuisine which I bought while in Singapore. I thought I could figure something out on my return to Australia. Here’s how it worked out for me:

  • The vegetable ensemble of my recipe here comes from Traditional Nonya Cuisine by Lucy Koh even though I don’t use brinjals. The original recipe in this book uses fish head, by the way, which is staring back at you in the photo. So you could say the original dish has a face.
  • The actual Singapore Nyonya curry paste came from a jar. A friend of ours –who is from India by the way –told us that we could get a “safe” Nyonya curry from Asian supermarkets in Sydney. Safe meaning no shrimp paste. We found it in Chatswood.

And that’s how it all came together Peoples. Enjoy!

Nyonya Style Faux-Fish Curry

8 pieces Lamyong Chunky Fish, thawed
½ bottle Tropicana Singapore Nyonya Curry Sauce, stirred well before use (I use a teaspoon for the job)
1 cup okra (lady’s fingers), I used frozen ones
½ onion, cut into thin wedges
1 large tomato, peeled and cut into small wedges (If you don’t peel them the skin turns into Spock’s ears)
270 ml coconut milk
1 cup soy milk
Vegetable oil to fry the faux-fish
Steamed rice to serve

• Pan-fry the faux-fish with a little bit of vegetable oil, making sure all the sides are browned lightly. Remove the faux-fish and set aside.
• Heat the Nyonya curry sauce and coconut milk in a wok on medium heat. Stir well to dissolve the lumps. Then add the soy milk. Check its heat and if you find it too hot add more coconut milk.
• Add the okra, onions and tomatoes. Lightly cook the vegetables on low heat until they are soft.

Shepherd’s Salad with Sumac – Sumaklı Çoban Salata

It seems like I log on to Ozlem’s Turkish Table whenever I need some original, well written Turkish recipes which are tested in Western world. I tried her Karides Güveç the other day. I was particularly happy with this güveç which turned out incredibly fast, easy and delicious. Of course, I substituted shrimps in Ozlem’s recipe with Lamyong vegetarian prawns and cut them into shrimp size as we all know that they are quite big. I’m afraid I don’t have a photo of it but that is some dish I see myself making over and over again. You never know, it might find itself on VegFusion one day.

sumakli coban salata(1280x928)

The recipe for Shepherd’s Salad with Sumac or Sumaklı Çoban Salata comes from Ozlem’s blog too -my version has a few changes which can be seen in the photo however, Ozlem’s recipe is the correct one. Shepherd’s Salad is a traditional Turkish side salad which is quite colourful, fresh and complimentary to pretty much every dish in Turkish cuisine. Hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do and Afiyet Olsun Peoples!

Shepherd’s Salad with Sumac – Sumaklı Çoban Salata
Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Half of a large cucumber, about 160 gr/5 ½ oz, cut in quarters and sliced
2-3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
30 ml/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
5ml/1tsp ground sumac
Salt and pepper to taste

• Mix the cucumbers, tomatoes, spring onions and the parsley in a bowl.
• Add the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
• Sprinkle ground sumac over for an extra zing and flavour.

Café Blossom, New York

One of the reasons why we love New York so much is it’s full of places where you can get really interesting vegan food. On one of our trips to New York we spotted Café Blossom. We were in the right area at the right time. That was in 2010 but Café Blossom is still going strong.

At the time I didn’t have my blog so I don’t have photos but I scanned in their menu and tracked down the exact food we had –I still have my notes you see.

Café Blossom’s food is vegan and organic. Basically their ingredients are harvested from local farms. We both had Southern Seitan Sandwich which is spiced seitan, caramelized onions, avocado and it comes with chipotle aioli (photo below).

Southern Seitan Sandwich

And to drink:
Pink Lady (beet, pineapple, ginger, pear)
Forest (apple, celery, parsley, lemon, ginger)

business details



Lamyong Vegetarian Prawn

I absolutely love these… So far I used them in Thai dishes and in some Indian ones too. Next stop will the classic prawn cocktail which we used to do at my restaurant (Family Tree) back in Turkey. A friend of mine also implemented them successfully in a battered form and reported back saying they work really well. I believe they can be BBQed and used in stir-fries too. Endless possibilities Peoples …

Lamyong Vegetarian Prawn

They come in different sizes: 285 gram one is in a box whereas 600 gr and 3 kg ones do come in plastic packaging. I find smaller packs more user friendly.

They are made in Malaysia and I buy mine either from Jessica or Lamyong itself.

Starch (56%) (curdlan –a type of starch)
Vegetarian seasonings
Permitted colouring (E160c)

Zucchini Stew with Green Lentils

This is one healthy stew which ticks all the boxes. The good ones of course. It’s full of protein and nutritious without being heavy.

WhereZucchini Stew with Green Lentils I come from, it is a common practice to use legumes and grains in vegetable dishes. This way, you immediately upgrade your vegetables dishes –usually from a side dish or a starter level to a main – and add good quality protein to your dishes. Besides, you could actually feed a lot of people all in one go and if by any chance you end up with leftovers, these dishes heat well the next day.

Serve Zucchini Stew with Green Lentils with either rice or bulghar pilaf and don’t forget to mop it up with lots of Turkish bread. Afiyet Olsun Peoples!

Zucchini Stew with Green Lentils

6 small size zucchini, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup cooked green lentils (or brown lentils)
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Boiled water
1 tablespoon dried mint (I like mine with lots of mint)
Maldon salt

• In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, chopped garlic, olive oil and salt and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Sauté the onions until they are thoroughly cooked.
• Add the tomatoes and lemon juice, oil, garlic and salt mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add the zucchini slices. Stir once and cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the lentils.
• Add some boiled water up to a level slightly above the whole mix.
• Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the zucchini slices are just tender.
• Remove from the heat and serve with dried mint sprinkled on top.

Hybrid Lentil Soup

Hybrid Lentil SoupHybrid Lentil Soup. No Peoples, it is not half lentil soup, half Van Gogh’s boots. As a matter of fact, there are no boots in it at all. I have been thinking about my own interpretations of certain classic dishes recently. Take this –supposedly classic– lentil soup recipe as an example; it is half straight forward Turkish lentil soup, half Ezogelin soup. Classic lentil soup is not spicy whereas Ezogelin soup is. On the other hand, Ezogelin soup has fine bulgur in it but classic lentil soup doesn’t. My hybrid soup doesn’t have the bulgur but it is spicy. See what I’m getting at?

The recipe below changed and evolved over the years. I used family recipes, neighbours’ recipes, even some professionals chipped in at some stage. And the end result is nourishing, warming and full of flavor. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Afiyet Olsun!

1 cup split red lentils
6 cups drinking water
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried spearmint
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon salt
Lemon juice to serve

• Wash and drain the lentils. Place them in a large pot –you’ll need that space for your hand blender as things get a little messy – and add water. Bring to a boil. Get a slotted spoon and a large plate ready. Place them near the cooking area.
• When you see foam building skim it with the slotted spoon and drop it on the plate –at some stage during this this process, the foam will get thicker. Repeat this until the lentil is cooked, ready to disperse itself into water and no more foam is building up.
• In a smaller pot, heat some vegetable oil. Add crushed garlic, tomato paste, sweet paprika, cumin, turmeric, spearmint and salt. Stir well. By using a soup ladle, transfer 1 or 2 spoonful of soup into this thick mixture, stir again and pour it back into the soup pot.
• Remove from heat. Plug the electric hand blender in and blend the soup in the pot until smooth. Work from your end of the pot and lift the pot up at the back if necessary. If you don’t have a hand blender, you could use a food processor for the job.
• Serve hot with freshly squeezed lemon, drizzled on top.

Serving suggestion: Serve with extra dried mint or Turkish chili flakes.

Vegan Prawns in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

I found this recipe in Meena Pathak’s Flavours of India cookbook long time ago and it is called Karhai Jheenga. As Mrs Pathak says and I quote:

“It takes its name from karhai, the round-bottomed, cast iron pan in which it is cooked.”

I used to have one. I remember buying it from Fiji Market in Newtown when I first came to Sydney. However, because of that round bottom, I can’t use it on my electric stove. It’s a shame because food tastes better when cooked in karhai. Even deep-frying is a total bliss but it just doesn’t work on a flat electric stove unfortunately. Anyway, you could use a non-stick, electric wok instead. That’s what I do.

vegan prawns in spicy tom sauce (1280x956)


8 Lamyong Vegetarian Prawns, thawed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Ginger (about 3cm), peeled and grated
2 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and diced (try to reserve its juice)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
A handful fresh coriander, chopped finely

• Cut the prawns into two and then put them in a pot with enough water. Boil the prawns until cooked fully. Drain and set aside.
• Heat the oil, add the cumin seeds and when they begin to crackle add the diced onions and fry for 10 minutes. Add crushed garlic and grated ginger and fry for another minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, turmeric and red chilli powder.
• Sauté and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with a little water if needed.
• When the oil begins to separate, add the prawns, crushed black pepper and chilli flakes. Cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
• Remove from the heat and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve immediately with basmati rice.

Roasted Faux-Duck Curry

Roasted Faux-Duck Curry

This is a dish we used to get from a near-by Thai vegan restaurant. They even did home delivery. It was a total bliss for us until the place was shut down as the owners’ visa ran out and they had to go back to Thailand. Coming up with my own recipe for the dish took 3 attempts and a lot of research but it paid off in the end. Now that I am comfortable with my own recipe, I am thinking of adding it to my repertoire.

Roasted Faux-Duck Curry

400 ml coconut milk
2 large pieces of Lamyong Roasted Duck, thinly sliced
5 tsp red curry paste
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1×15 gram block palm sugar, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiled water
3 kaffir lime leaves: 2 torn into pieces, discarding the stem and 1 finely shredded (for garnish)
12 lychees
¼ fresh pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 red capsicum, cut into small pieces
8 small cherry tomatoes
Sweet basil leaves (reserve some for garnish)

• Pan-fry the duck pieces on high heat until they are crisp and set aside.
• Pour the coconut milk, torn kaffir lime leaves and red curry sauce into a wok and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
• Add the dark and light soy sauce and palm sugar. Simmer for 2 more minutes.
• Add the pineapple, red capsicum and cherry tomatoes and simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the sweet basil leaves and duck strips. Turn off the heat and serve garnished with the remaining kaffir lime leaves and sweet basil. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Raw Celeriac Salad with Walnuts and Dill

I know I have a similar recipe which I shared long time ago but this one is slightly different and the photo is better too. You don’t mind me sharing it again, do you?

DPP_00015 (1280x960)Back in Bodrum (Turkey), this was the first thing I used to make on the day of the local market, right after bringing the fresh produce home. This salad stores well in the fridge and you always have something to add to whatever you cook during the week. It is also a good sandwich filler.

DPP_00025 (1280x960)I strongly recommend you prepare everything before you attack the celeriac here as it turns brown so fast. I sometimes even put the lemon juice in the food processor first and then grate the whole thing straight on top of it. You either plan well or work fast. That is the only rule here.

½ head celeriac, peeled and grated
3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped finely
2 walnuts, shelled and chopped finely
Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
Black pepper

• Grate the celeriac either in a food processor or by using a hand grater.
• Mix grated raw celeriac and lemon juice in a salad bowl.
• Add rest of the ingredients and mix well.
• Garnish with extra chilli and serve.

Chickpea (garbanzo bean) and Smoked Almond Salad with Vinaigrette

I have been using smoked almonds extensively in salads since we discovered them at Scoop. Here’s a salad featuring these interesting ingredients.

Chickpea and Smoked Almond Salad with Vinaigrette
Bowl in this photo is hand-made in 2011 by ceramic artist Turgut Tuna.  It is hand made and it came all the way from Turkey. Thank you Zeynep and Canbora :) It is from Iznik -famous for its ceramics and tiles.

1x tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed well and drained
1 small carrot, grated
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
½ green pepper (capsicum), chopped
½ cup smoked almonds
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To make vinaigrette: Combine vinegar and oil, whisking until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make salad: Combine chickpeas, carrot, smoked almonds, pepper, onion and mint in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.