Every year, Tasting Australia showcases some of our best culinary talent. With the festival done and dusted, we thought what better way to continue the food lovin’ than with recipes for us to make at home.
With a number of events and food venues centered around vegetarian and vegan dishes, we spoke to some of Adelaide’s top vego-vegan chefs and food business owners. They’ve built their careers from the ground up, with produce from the ground. Listing vegetables as some of their favourite ingredients to eat and cook with, we ask them to share their top-notch vegan recipes to show just how sexy a dirty veggie can be.
Patron for Tasting Australia and Adelaide chef icon, Cheong is perhaps best known for 14 years at the helm of The Grange, former restaurant at the Hilton Adelaide. He’s since been busy teaching, catering and being a grandfather. He is an avid veggie-lover and believes health is at the forefront. “At my age now, I eat very little meat. I find that vegetables are much nicer for me. I feel healthier. I’ve begun to grow a lot of things in my back garden. I think the vegetarian movement is good. I think you get so much different nourishment from the ground.”
Fried Steamed Eggplant
2 garlic cloves, crushed (or very finely chopped)
50g roasted slivered almonds, skin on
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh coriander
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
A few pinches salt, to season
1⁄2 cup peanut oil or rice bran oil
200g soba noodles, cooked as per packet instructions (cheong recommends the chilled packet soba from japanese grocery stores, the more buckwheat the better)
Soy chilli sauce dressing
2 tbsp superior light soy (you can get this from an asian grocer)
1 tbsp pun chun premium dark soy (you can get this from an asian grocer)
1 tbsp vinegar chili sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1⁄2 tsp kun yik chili oil (optional, but you can get this from an asian grocer – just ask)
2 tbsp tomato sauce (freshly homemade if you can)
1 tsp sugar
Cut eggplants lengthwise into 8 pieces. Lightly salt to remove the bitterness. Leave to stand for 10 minutes until beads of water appear on the surface then dry with kitchen paper.
In a shallow frying pan or wok, heat enough oil to shallow fry. Add the crushed garlic cloves and fry until lightly brown. Remove garlic and set aside.
Fry each piece of eggplant in the oil until brown. Remove and drain excess oil by placing on paper towel.
Put eggplant on a plate and place inside a steamer (can be a Chinese bamboo steamer over your wok, or a simple vegetable sieve/steamer over a saucepan). Place browned garlic on top of eggplant and steam for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Use a whisk to combine all the sticky/thick/running sauces together.
Once the eggplant has finished steaming, remove the brown garlic and drain any excess water off the plate.
To serve, garnish with a scattering of the slivered almonds, sesame seeds, spring onions and fresh coriander.
Cheong also recommends, particularly if you are a vegetarian or vegan, garnishing the dish with seasonal vegetables, to ensure the best nutrient content in the dish. It is also an excellent side dish to meat or fish.
Owner and cook at King William Road vegetarian eatery Pollen 185, Jyoti is on a mission to make vegetables, legumes and fruits more accessible. “I wanted to contribute something positive to society. If we can show people how beautiful vegan food is and how good you feel afterwards, and how filling, that’s great. It’s not just a wilted salad. Lots of our customers still eat meat but they come here because they love the food. I’m not vegan – almost! I still eat fish sometimes, because Dad catches it when we go to Kangaroo Island, and eggs. It’s about environmental [factors] and sustainability for me.”
All Seasons Fennel, Fig, Butterbean & Caper Salad
Serves 3 (as a main) or 6 (as a side dish)
1 cup moghrabieh (lebanese couscous)
3 cups vegetable stock or water
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (you can also roast 3 x bulbs for a different flavour)
1 cucumber, sliced into ribbons
6 figs, cut into sixths (depending on the size)
1 bunch asparagus, thinly sliced at an angle 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
1 can butter beans, rinsed
1⁄2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1⁄2 bunch dill, roughly chopped zest of 1 orange
1 lemon, zest & juice
1⁄2 cup capers
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp garlic, crushed salt & white pepper to taste
Cook moghrabieh in 3 cups of vegetable stock (or water). 1 cup of pearls should be enough, but if you want to make this salad more substantial, you can do more. Moghrabieh pearls should be soft, not raw or hard in the middle. They will always keep their shape and texture. You sometimes have to add more liquid, either stock or water, so just keep checking on them to see if they are ready or require more liquid to soak up.
Pop fennel, cucumber, figs and radishes into a big, beautiful salad serving bowl. Gently mix with clean hands (to avoid too much squishing).
Fry butter beans, parsley, dill, garlic and olive oil in a saucepan on fairly high heat. Shake the pan often, frying until their skins start to blister and they turn golden brown.
As they begin to brown, add the lemon zest and half the lemon juice to the pan. Let the beans soak up the juice. Sprinkle with a little salt and turn off heat. Add into the salad bowl mix.
Finally, put the capers into a frying pan with a little veg oil, on medium to high heat. Wait until they start popping. Turn the heat right down, add the 1⁄4 cup olive oil and if you are using the fennel raw, add this and let heat slightly with the oil, adding salt and white pepper, then pour over the salad.
Mix through with your hands, arrange the figs and fennel towards the top, then lastly, place the orange zest on just before serving.
Jyoti’s tips for a top veggie salad:
- This dish is a ‘go to’ for any season, with a few ingredient swaps. I make this about once a week at home, with different variations. Go wild, change things up!
- While I usually keep the fennel raw, you can cut into wedges, season and drizzle with vegetable oil and roast for the cooler months.
- To ribbon cucumber, or any similar vegetable like zucchini (a great substitute in this salad), just use a peeler.
- Keep your salads colourful – just get creative. A mix of green and yellow is beautiful.
- You don’t have to cook all vegetables. Raw asparagus is wonderful and I rarely put heat to them anymore.
- To thinly slice some vegetables (like radishes), try using a mandolin. This will slice it as thin as possible without cutting yourself.
Got any delicious vegan recipes? Let us know in the comments below.