Vegan MoFo day 20: Nasi goreng in the neighbourhood

Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of the only people left in Australia who hasn’t been to Indonesia. I should really pop in one day, it’s the neighbourly thing to do. There’s a lot that interests me about Indonesia, but a lot that repels me too- namely, the hoardes of drunk Australians. But then I remember my love of Indonesian food, a love so strong that I could put up with almost anything, and the desire to visit comes right back.

There are two things that I’m particularly grateful to Indonesia for: tempeh, and satay. So for tonight’s MoFo meal, I had to combine the two to create a Jakarta street food favourite.

Tempeh satay and nasi goreng

I turned to The Asian Vegan Kitchen for the recipe- originally for tofu, asparagus and baby corn satay- which is tucked away in the Thai section. I’d made it as written previously and loved it, so I decided to adapt it slightly to a more authentic Indonesian taste, mainly by substituting fried tempeh for tofu, and making good use of my huge bottle of kecap manis. I’ve been on a real tempeh kick over the last few months, so I really enjoyed it this way. The frying adds a tougher exterior to the tempeh, and works as a great replacement for the tender meat that can be found alongside tempeh at roadside satay stalls. This satay sauce is also quick, easy perfection- though I’m inclined to say that about most things I can throw together in around a minute.

The nasi goreng, also from The Asian Vegan Kitchen, is an Indonesian take on common fried rice. Loaded with vegetables (capcisum, snow peas, spring onions and my favourite, bean sprouts), this is super filling, satisfying comfort food.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the food that makes me want to take the step to make Indonesia a friend, rather than just the country next door. Maybe I’ll head over to borrow a cup of palm sugar when I run out- after all, isn’t that what good neighbours do?

Vegan MoFo day 19: Simplicity wins out

Contrary to its very nature, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about street food during Vegan MoFo, it’s that it’s not always as quick and easy as you’d imagine- when you’re only cooking for two, anyway. As much as I love to spend time in the kitchen, life occasionally has other ideas.

When initially researching some new and unfamiliar street foods, I skipped over tonight’s recipe, considering it too simple to be remotely interesting. But after a day spent flying from Canberra to Sydney and back, running around at meetings all day and catching glimpses of the Queen (true story), I was willing to rethink my stance.



Zapiekanka is the Polish answer to street pizza- on a baguette. My mother used to make something similar for my brother and I as kids, but I’m inclined to think that this can be attributed less to her European roots and more to her overwhelming feeling of ‘these damn kids won’t shut up about how hungry they are, but I can’t be bothered cooking’. Regardless of the motive, this is a cheap, quick and easy meal, around fifteen minutes from stepping in the door to sitting down to eat.

I went the traditional route and smothered mine in mushrooms, and topped it with Notzarella- a new, Australian-made vegan cheese. I was too tired and hungry to give this enough time in the oven to melt properly, but I’ve been informed that its melting capabilities are a thing to behold. I’m looking forward to trying it out on pizza (maybe even deep-dish!) in future.

Sure, it’s not impressive-looking, but I’ve spent enough time running through airports and cities today, without adding running frantically around my kitchen to the mix. And let’s face it- sometimes we all need a lazy option for no real reason. And with a few of my favourite things- bread, mushrooms and cheese- you could do (and I have done) a lot worse than this to feed your laziness.

Vegan MoFo day 18: Israeli icon

I’m beginning to realise that my street food theme could just as easily have been translated to a ‘deep-fried things’ theme. Who can blame the street vendors? It’s fast, it’s usually tasty, and it’s the perfect guilty treat for the infrequent food cart patron. Because after all, who eats street food that often- and who would dare eat it every day for a month? A crazy person, that’s who.

But to my credit, tonight’s meal was a touch more healthy than deep-fried Oreos. It’s the national dish of Israel (according to some), and is loved across the Middle East and increasingly, the world. It’s practically its own food group for vegans- it’s falafel.


Falafel and I are close. We hang out at least a few times per week. Falafel is warm and comforting, and never disappoints. It’s a happy relationship- even happier now that I’ve tried this recipe from World Food Cafe.

The two World Food Cafe books were the first cookbooks that I became really excited about. I bought the second one first, entirely because of the section on Cambodian cooking. I quickly discovered that these books have a lot more to offer, particularly a number of cuisines that I’d never imagined trying before. These books are an adventure, and while vegetarian, a lot of the recipes are vegan or very easily adaptable.

So even I was surprised that I’d never tried this recipe for falafel before. It’s surprisingly quick and easy. The falafel came together in around ten to fifteen minutes, before frying- and that was while struggling with a too-small food processor. But most importantly, these are delicious. They’re not shy with the spice, which I appreciate. Who wants bland when they turn to Middle Eastern food? Served with lettuce, tabouli, tomato, hommus and roasted eggplant, these were perfection with the fresh crispness that you find on the street rather than in the supermarket.

It’s no wonder that these have turned from an Israeli icon into a global street food darling- all the better to keep us together, no matter where I travel.

Vegan MoFo day 17: Star-spangled snacks

When we came back from a month in the US last year, the majority of people at home were genuinely surprised that we loved the food we ate while away. I guess the media- both the news and the prevalence of American daytime talk shows featuring obese children asking Maury for free lipo- can have that effect. But there’s more to American food than grease and cheese. I’ve never seen a city with the diversity of food that we saw in New York City- almost anything imaginable is right there on the street, and it’s delicious.

But I won’t pretend that we didn’t play into the stereotype a little bit, especially in our first few days. Although we felt like death afterwards (particularly Chadwiko, who couldn’t help but order the vegan double-down), Foodswings was a favourite of ours. So for our US street food day, I couldn’t help but choose two of the most ‘stereotypically American’ foods we saw sold on street corners.

Hot dog vendors seemed to be everywhere we looked. True, we visited New York in the middle of summer, and the majority of said vendors had filled their carts with ice cream instead, but they were around. And nowhere more prominently than Coney Island. But hot dogs, while an American classic, are a bit boring on their own- chilli dogs, on the other hand, are way more fun and way more quintessentially American.

Chilli dog

For the hot dogs themselves, I used the recipe from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. Other than the recipe for potato wedges (a staple in our house), I don’t use this book enough. The hot dogs were easy to prepare and tasted great- and the wet ingredients, when mixed together, were that exact disconcerting shade of pink so familiar amongst hot dogs. I don’t really like commercially available vegan hot dogs, so I can see myself turning back to this recipe when the occasion arises.

The hot dogs were topped with a basic chilli, nacho Cheezly, Tofutti sour cream and chives. I’ve never been a huge fan of hot dogs, but I can definitely get behind these.

It was at this street fair we stumbled across in Brooklyn that we came across the one street food that made us look at each other and say, ‘only in America’. Almost certainly not vegan, I didn’t try it, but come USA street food day, there was only one street dessert that I could possibly attempt to recreate- deep-fried Oreos.

Deep-fried Oreos

I did some research and found that most deep-fried Oreo recipes (yes, there are multiple people who wanted to eat these badly enough that they created a recipe) use some kind of pancake batter to coat the Oreo. ‘We’ve come this far’, I thought to myself. ‘Why start considering your health now?’- as I reached for a box of cocoa powder and bottle of Cooper’s stout. Chocolate beer waffle batter it was (the recipe from Vegan Brunch, to be precise).

As Chadwiko and I tentatively bit into these, we concluded that they were less disgusting than anticipated. The waffle batter was crisp, and gave way to partially-melted Oreos. Of course, it was like being punched in the mouth with sugar, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad-tasting punch. Nevertheless, after one and a half of these, I had to stop and drink a huge glass of water before retreating to the couch to clutch my stomach in tearful regret.

Will we make them again? I doubt it (it would take a lot of beer to make me consider it- and hopefully then I would possess the common sense not to attempt deep-frying anything in that state of inebriation). But at least I now know what I’m (not) missing.

America, you make me feel sick and happy and overwhelmed and at home all at once. Let’s be friends forever.