Amazin’ Asian Food!
No where is it easier to order a meatless, dairy-free meal, than at an Asian restaurant. Do any even use cheese? Thankfully, no. Granted, there are often eggs and meats spattered here and there and are the star of the show in many dishes, but there are also countless ways to creatively order delectable meals that are jam-packed with umami, sweet, salty and tangy goodness, and many may already be on the menu! No special ordering antics or hoop-jumping required.
Asian restaurants really know how to showcase vegetables, and you know these extraordinary plants deserve it! I mean Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli with Black Bean Sauce, Buddha’s Delight, Eggplant Katsu, Tofu and Spinach Pra Ram (swimming in peanut sauce!), Mu Shu Vegetables (hold the egg, please!) From Bok Choy to Jackfruit and King Oyster Mushrooms to Tofu, there it’s a kaleidoscope playground to feast your eyes upon and tantalize your taste buds. So many dishes are awesome as is, but by suggesting an easy swap, like Teriyaki Tofu instead of Teriyaki Chicken, you are well on your way to Asian delights that align with your healthy goals, nutrition ambitions and reminiscent favorites.
Sauces are what transport our senses and inspire culturally exquisite cuisine, and Asian restaurants take the Gold Medal for super delicious sauce sorcery in my book! The clean, fresh vibrant flavors of Asian sauces jump in your mouth and bring excitement to every dish! The adventurous can invest in a small pantry of ingredients to replicate these umami bomb elixirs, but every supermarket sells a vast array of bottled yummy Asian sauces and if you go to the Asian market…be prepared for sensory meltdown! There are entire rows devoted to their solid sauce game!
One note about bottled sauces, and even some of the ingredients you may use to ambitiously make your own, is that some are very high in sodium and sugar. If that’s an issue, please red the labels and make informed decisions. I often use the “Yuka” app on my phone to scan the bar codes of packaged foods to ascertain the level of healthfulness (or not) of a particular food item. The app is particularly sensitive to high sodium readings, so many of these foods may register poorly, but take it with a grain of salt (pun intended) and consider it awareness, if that’s something you’re trying to reduce or avoid. Remember if you make your own, you can control the ingredients and wow yourself with the tasty outcome!
I got off on a bit of a saucy tangent there, but what I really want to do is spotlight how authentically Asian dishes require very little manipulating, and often none, to provide a bountiful, lip-smacking, highly crave-able meal that satisfies on every level. I order a side of steamed vegetables with every order of Asian food to amp up the health factor and add extra veg to everything! I even order a side of Jasmine rice to add into my noodle dishes. Don’t judge until you’ve tried it. (Thanks for the inspiration, Vic!) Have I mentioned my love of noodles. Yeah, they have those too!
For your Wild Meatless Monday Adventure, try out an Asian recipe like this Soba Noodles with Chinese Vegetables or Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing. You can thank me later! The peanut dressing would be great on the Soba Noodle dish too, just sayin’! You know me, I’d probably mix both recipes together and have a noodle-vegetable-salad-peanut-dressing hybrid! Or make a traditional favorite with a meatless swap, mushrooms, tofu, mock-meat chicken (like Daring brand “chicken” in your grocer’s freezer) with Teriyaki or a simple Orange Miso Dressing thickened with a bit of cornstarch in a sauce pan, or order takeout from an Asian restaurant and indulge yourself in the many options this incredible cuisine provides. You’ll be faint with the possibilities! I am!
Love + Lentils,