When in doubt, add coconut milk. When out of ideas, get coconut milk. That has pretty much been by attitude when cooking with vegetables. I don’t make a raw vegetable salad; instead, I cook the vegetables in coconut milk.
Yes, I love coconuts. In fact, I love just about every part of the coconut tree. Perhaps, it’s rooted in my childhood. Growing up with coconut trees in the backyard, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with tender coconut meat and sweet coconut water. Perhaps, it has to do with my grandmother who bought guinataang halo-halo on every trip to the market which she did two times a week. Perhaps, it’s the memory of my first taste of lumpiang ubod, Bicol express and laing. And then there’s my first encounter with furniture made with coconut timber. It just seems to me that there was a coconut wonderment at almost every stage of my life.
And that wonderment lives to this day as I discover more and newer ways to enjoy every part of the coconut. In this recipe, fresh mushrooms and fried tofu were partnered with chilies and coconut milk for an invigorating vegan dish.
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 to 2 finger chilies (depending on your tolerance for heat), sliced
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms trimmed (any variety; slice or dice if they are large)
- 1/2 cup fried firm tofu cubes
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
Saute the shallots, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and chilies with a bit of salt.
Add the mushrooms and tofu. Season with more salt. Cook, stirring a few times, just until the mushrooms and the tofu are heated through, about two minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk. Bring to the boil. Taste the sauce and add more salt, if needed. Boil for a few minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
A few tips before attempting to cook this dish:
1. To make sure that your tofu cubes are perfectly fried, read how to fry firm tofu.
2. Try seasoning this dish with Himalayan black salt. It’s seriously good for vegetarian food.
3. Garnishing with fresh herbs is always a good idea. Lemon basil goes especially well with this dish. Finely slice the leaves (see how to make basil chiffonade) and sprinkle over the vegetables just before serving.