Shanghai-based foodie and restaurateur Lindsey Fine (aka Veggie Mama) has been creating all sorts of delicious vegan recipes since moving to China eight years ago. You can read all about the perks of eating a plant-based diet via her blog Veggie Mama and sample recipes on this series, Cooking with Veggie Mama. In this edition, Lindsey shares her recipe for Vegan Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce.
In China, if you know where to go, you’ll find late night food carts full of freshly skewered food. The skewered meat and veggies are tossed on the grill, sprinkled with seasonings, slathered with sauces and charred to perfection. In larger cities these food carts are starting to fade away, but they are still tucked away in corners and down alleys. But China isn't the only country that loves food on a stick. This recipe is an homage to Asia’s diverse street food scenes.
I didn’t just want to make skewers with veggies. I wanted to make something with a little more substance. Then I remembered a dish that my husband (in his meat eating days) and friends loved to order at Southeast Asian restaurants: satay.
Satay comes from an amalgamation of cultural cuisines in Southeast Asia. Its roots are commonly believed to be from the Indonesian island of Java. However, when you look a bit further back in history, this popular street food was actually inspired by the kebabs of India. That being said, it is the exotic spices of the ‘Spice Islands’ that make this dish uniquely Indonesian. As people migrated throughout Southeast Asia, they created new versions of the dish made with locally available ingredients.
And that’s just what I am bringing you today, a vegan version that more closely represents the Thai version of satay. I used ingredients easily found at local markets in China, and instead of using tofu I used kaofu, or mianjin, which is a traditional Chinese version of seitan.
If you are gluten free, you can replace the kaofu with tofu or even tempeh. If you do use kaofu, don’t worry about marinating it for too long. It literally looks like a sponge, which means it soaks up the marinade, well, like a sponge. This will be a flavor bomb in your mouth.
Vegan Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce
400-450 grams kaofu, super firm tofu (suji), or tempeh (kaofu can be found at the local fresh market and most supermarkets in the tofu section)
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (sub with lemon juice if needed)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup brown sugar, coconut sugar or 2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons lime juice (sub with lemon juice)
1 teaspoon soy sauce or liquid aminos
Coriander and sliced red chili pepper, and sliced lime, optional for garnish
1. Cut veggie protein of choice into chunks about 1 1/2-2 inches thick and 4 inches long. Set aside.
2. In a shallow rectangular dish, mix together coconut milk, soy sauce or liquid aminos, lime or lemon juice, maple syrup, curry powder and minced garlic and ginger. Add in kaofu, tofu, or tempeh, rotate pieces in mixture to coat all of them evenly. If using kaofu, you only need to let marinate for the time you are making the sauce. If you are using tofu or tempeh, you might want to let it sit a bit longer.
3. To prepare the sauce, mix together coconut milk, curry powder, peanut butter, vegetable broth and brown sugar or other sweetener in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until a bit bubbly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Remove from heat and add lime or lemon juice and soy sauce. Set aside.
4. To prepare skewers, take marinated pieces of your veggie protein and carefully insert short bamboo skewer or metal skewer into each piece, from the bottom lengthwise. Set aside.
5. Heat your grill or grill pan on medium-high, and lightly oil the cooking surface. Place skewers on top and cook until the pieces of veggie protein have nice grill marks on all sides, pushing down a bit with a metal turner so that all parts are evenly exposed to the heat and cooked through.
6. Once all skewers are grilled, plate and drizzle peanut sauce on top. Sprinkle with additional garnish if using.
7. Add extra peanut sauce to a small sauce serving dish and serve.
To use the leftovers, I made mung bean noodles and then mixed the peanut sauce with chili garlic sauce. I tossed the noodles with the sauce and added some chopped kaofu on top. It makes for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.
Read more Cooking with Veggie Mama
[Images courtesy of Veggie Mama/Lindsey Fine]