Gluten Free Kecap Manis & Broccolini® with Soy and Sesame

Kecap manis, pronounced like “kitCHUP maneese”, is a sweet, sticky, Indonesian soy sauce. It’s not an obscure thing, so you don’t have to search Asian grocers or health food stores for it – it’s available at most supermarkets near the soy sauce. Most of the time, though, you’ll see questionable ingredients listed on the bottle, such as “flavours” or three digit numbers… And I’m yet to come across a store bought version that’s gluten free. So, “why not make it myself?”, I thought.

Gluten Free Kecap Manis
Gluten Free Kecap Manis

1/2 C Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1/2 C + 1 T Soft Brown Sugar, firmly packed

  • Put ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer on low heat for 6-10 minutes, stirring constantly. If your mixture starts to bubble up too much, simply remove it from the burner for a moment to let it settle. The consistency will be comparable to maple syrup and will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Leave to cool, then store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Broccolini Soy Sesame
Broccolini® with Soy and SesameServes 4 as a side or 2 as a main

The above recipe is what inspired me to make and share a gluten free version of kecap manis with you; I didn’t want my gluten free readers to miss out! I really loved this dish, and as you can tell by the bright glossy photo, I ate it on the verandah (porch) as the sun set on my beautiful twenty acres of Australian flora and fauna. What a way to relax!

The only change I made to the original recipe was to use one tablespoon of kecap manis, not the recommended two – this was sweet enough for me, but if you want something a bit richer, feel free to toss in the second tablespoon. I also chose to eat it as a main rather than a side and served it with some brown rice.

Tofu Puffs

This broccolini dish is also really great with a couple of cut up tofu puffs tossed into the mix. They’re a specialty item that I’ve only ever seen in Asian grocery stores, either in the fridge or freezer section. They’re the only type of tofu that you can freeze and defrost without altering the texture. They’re spongy, a little chewy and hold stir fry and curry sauces fabulously!

Jerry’s Vegifix

Mr. AA & I spent our 6 year anniversary weekend away at Chopped Rod & Custom festival – it’s a weekend of camping, old cars and music. It’s not a food-oriented event by any means, so I was caught off guard (food-wise) and ended up taking some impromptu photos with my phone – which, as you can see, are fairly questionable in quality.

Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

For the first time ever (we’ve been a few times!), Chopped had some vegan food on offer: Jerry’s Vegi Burgers.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012

I was excited and impressed – I’d prepared enough food to get me through the weekend (including a raw lemon cheesecake!), but to show my support for a veg-friendly caterer and encourage the organisers to make this option available again, I bought dinner at this stall on Saturday. I’d heard from a very reliable source that the crispy noodle salad on offer was pretty good – better than the veggie burgers – so I placed my order.

Veg food @ Chopped Rod & Custom 2012
Crispy noodle salad.

Can you believe that giant serve was only $10? Half way through it I was pretty full but I powered through and ate the entire plate because it was too tasty to waste! The dressing was a rich sweet and spicy peanut sauce, the veggies were fresh and crunchy and the sprouts and chopped nuts on top really made it! The only thing that would have made it easier to eat would have been a bowl. And maybe a shovel. Ok, ok, maybe the shovel is going a bit far… Hahah.

I had a bit of a chat to Jerry afterwards and found his relaxed attitude very striking and inviting. Jerry’s web page has a list of upcoming festivals that he’ll be cooking at; if you’re attending an event in the future, feel free to put in a request on behalf of all veggo attendees to have Jerry there!

Dumpling World

Dumpling World1

Dumpling World
Cnr Argyle & Liverpool St
Hobart, TAS 7000

If you Google “Dumpling World Hobart” or find it via the Happy Cow website, you’ll be told to go to 3/138 Collins Street. Let me assure you that at this spot, there’s nothing more than a shop front that’s being renovated. I was almost in tears. Two days later, we found the *real* address for Dumpling World entirely by accident – and oh what a happy accident.

Dumpling World2

Dumpling World has a tacky menu on the wall, covered with photographs of the food, but don’t let that turn you off. To the right of the entry is a dining area and to the left is the counter, kitchen and a bar height bench along the window for singles and pairs to sit and eat at. You can see into the kitchen from the bar style bench which was great for me because I knew my dumplings weren’t frozen and mass manufactured – they were being hand made with love right in front of my eyes.

Dumpling World3

I’ve eaten in Footscray and Richmond – both immigrant areas of Melbourne that are heavily populated with Asian restaurants – and JAPAN, for God’s sake… and I’m telling you now that nothing else I’ve eaten comes close to these dumplings. They are AMAZING. The wrappers don’t split when you pick them up with your chopsticks and the filling is more than just carrot and cabbage. There’s Asian greens and herbs inside; SO MUCH FLAVOUR! Delicious, finely chopped flavour. I can feel myself starting to salivate right now…

I’d definitely go back for the dumplings alone. There’s items on the menu other than dumplings – noodles dishes, Asian soups, stir fries with rice… But I can’t confidently comment on how many of them are vegan friendly. I know the tofu noodle dish doesn’t contain any oyster sauce, but I failed to ask if the hokkien noodles contained egg (they can go either way). Also, I’m sad to say that my gluten free readers are out of luck here.

Dumpling World on Urbanspoon


Hi Everyone!

Sorry I’ve been MIA – I just arrived home from a fabulous trip in Tasmania, where Mr. AA & I got engaged. I have plenty of updates coming up for you (both eatery reviews and recipes), so stay tuned!

When we arrived in Hobart, even before checking in to our cabin, I insisted on making a special stop for lunch. We’d heard of a place called “Heartfood” via the Happy Cow website, so we made our way into town. Hobart is a surprisingly easy city to navigate – once you have all the one way streets worked out. After 3 days, we felt like locals! Ha.


64 Liverpool Street
Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6234 2884 ‎

Heartfood is a little take away shop – much smaller than I was expecting – that’s only open for lunch. There’s 4x tables of two in there and a giant floor-to-ceiling mirror to make you feel a little less claustrophobic. Mr. AA & I sat at a table looking out, watching the hustle and bustle of Liverpool St. If you don’t fancy sitting inside, there’s a communal outdoor eating area that all the surrounding eateries share which is just a short walk to the other end of the arcade.


This was the first thing I saw when I walked in and I might have let out a little squeal of excitement when I realised they had sweets I could eat (I’m not kidding). To the right of this was a drinks fridge, which not only stocked Phoenix cola, but also coconut water with no additives (I don’t know about y’all, but I struggle to find coconut water that doesn’t contain sugar – what’s with that?)! To the left was the bain marie, which housed all the hot, savoury options which change daily.


All of the dishes were clearly marked – most of them were both gluten free and vegan. I was having a lot of trouble making a decision, so I chose to try two dishes with rice.


At the back is a tomato/veg/tofu dish. Mild and not overpowering – but not too bland either… Though it seemed pretty dull compared to the amazing coconut milk curry on the left. None of the food was spicy, so if you don’t dig chili, then you’re in for a treat.


This was the vegetarian lasagne (not vegan) and a couple of vegetable pakoras. Mr. AA said these were both excellent and he was thoroughly satisfied!


I have no idea why this is called a “rainbow cookie”, but it was AWESOME. It was like a chewy muesli bar bite with chocolate on top. I might have gone back for another one of these.


I went back on another day during our trip for a take-away lunch (yes, I liked the food that much) and got another great veggie curry! This one was tomato based (not creamy) and comparable to a mild aloo mutter, only with a bigger variety of veggies in it.

I was thoroughly satisfied and impressed and wish there was a Heartfood around the corner from where I work, so could eat there every day! It actually made me a little homesick for Lentil As Anything.

Eatery Review: Veggie Kitchen

Veggie Kitchen Front
Veggie Kitchen
159 St George’s Rd
Northcote VIC 3070

This little gem is tucked away on St George’s Rd – a street in Melbourne with plenty of vehicle traffic but not a lot of pedestrian traffic. It’s a vegetarian, Taiwanese restaurant with vegan and gluten free options clearly marked on the menu. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to not have to ask a million questions about the ingredients in the dishes I’m considering!

Veggie Kitchen Inside

We showed up for a late lunch and the place was desserted – though I think it might have had a lot to do with the World Vegan Day festivities happening in Melbourne at the time.

This little photo book came to us with the menu. It seemed a bit silly and didn’t help me choose a dish at all, but I looked at it anyway.
Veggie Kitchen Photo Book

I was in the mood to think outside the square, so I ordered this sparkling blood orange & cardamom drink which was pretty good! It wasn’t too carbonated (fizzy drinks normally disagree with me) and the cardamom was subtle. It was nice and tangy.
Veggie Kitchen Sparkling blood Orange & Cardamom

We ordered a few things from the a la carte menu. First we had the dumplings. The wrappers tasted awesome but they tore pretty easily. I found the filling a little chewy but Mr. AA really loved these! If you’re a dumpling kind of person, you’ll dig these.
Veggie Kitchen Dumplings

Then the curry puffs… These were nice and crispy on the outside and full of veggies & spices on the inside – but not spicy at all. Two thumbs up for not being greasy!
Veggie Kitchen Curry Puffs

This was a stuffed tofu item called “ah gei”, which is a traditional Taiwanese thing. Honestly, I had no intention of eating tofu that day, but the waitress told me that they MAKE all of their tofu on site, so how could I resist? It came as a parcel – I cut it in half for the photo so you could see the inside. It’s one of the more unusual things I’ve eaten this year but it did NOT disappoint. It was actually pretty amazing – full of rich flavours and a good texture that wasn’t too chewy. I was a little apprehensive about sharing this!
Veggie Kitchen Ah Gei

And finally, the curry tofu – because I had to try more than one kind of tofu. This dish was freakishly familiar and it didn’t take me long to figure out why! This is the *exact* type of curry I was served in Japan when I was expecting to get an Indian style curry! I’ve been wanting to eat something like it ever since I came back from Japan in 2007 but I had no idea what to look for. So… I was feeling pretty happy. I finally had some answers about the mysterious curry in Japan.

The curry was mild but had lots of flavour and a good variety of veggies in it. I forced myself to finish the plate not because I was hungry but because it was too delicious to leave behind.
Veggie Kitchen Curry

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is the BEST tofu I’ve ever had. It’s far superior to any other; it’s spongy, soft and delicate, but not like silken tofu. It doesn’t fall apart, but it breaks nicely when you dig the side of a spoon into it. I really wish this restaurant would pre-package their tofu and let you take some home to work with.

I’d like to have seen more mains and less entrees on the a la carte menu. That being said though, when I go back, chances are it will be for the banquet. I’d really love to try some other things from the menu, including some dessert which I didn’t have room for at the time. Everything is reasonably priced (entrees $5, mains $13) and the staff are SO FRIENDLY.

Sweet Coconut Rice

Sweet Coconut Rice
Serves 4 as a side dish.

1.5 C Basmati Rice
1.5 C Water or Veg Stock
1 C Coconut Milk
2 TBSP Palm Sugar or Raw Sugar
5-6 Fresh or Frozen Kaffir Lime Leaves*

  • Combine all ingredients in a pot or rice cooker and simmer on low heat with lid on for approximately 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Discard kaffir lime leaves, fluff rice with a fork and serve with some toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander.

This rice is mild and sweet. Don’t serve it with a curry or a heavy stiry fry, or the flavours will just be drowned out! I like this best with Luke Nguyen’s crisp silken tofu.

*Kaffir lime leaves are primarily used in south east Asian cuisine; you can generally purchase them at Asian grocers and some health food stores.

(r)Adelaide: Vego To Go

I want to preface this with an apology about the shitty photos. I was traveling, excited to eat and on this occassion forgot to bring my camera along and had to take photos with my boss’ iPhone. Whoops… Nevertheless, I have plenty to say about my experience!

Vego To Go
Norwood Mall
Shp 12/The Parade
Norwood SA 5067


I’ve gotta tell you guys – when I walked in and saw this cabinet, I just about pissed my pants with excitement. There was a lot of variety and much of it was vegan. To top it off, anything that was vegan was very clearly labeled. This made me oh so happy! The only down side was that my brain switched to over drive and I had no idea what I wanted to order. It’s not often that I go out in public and am faced with more than two choices!

I started off with a rice ball (pictured below). This was about the size of my fist and came with a really yellow-y peanut sauce that got me thinking about all the different peanut sauces I’ve tried in my time. Everyone makes it different! This one was sweet and delicious and really complimented the rice ball which was fairly simple in flavour. On the inside, it seemed to be dotted with flakes or nori and what I suspect was red capsicum. It was GOOD.

Rice Ball

Next, I tried the vindaloo, which was recommended by the girl behind the counter. I’m always up for something fiery, so this excited me! As you can see, there was a variety of veggies in there and the dish was seriously packed with flavour – I loved it. The only let down, for me, was that when I order vindaloo, I expect to walk away with my mouth tingling. Unfortunately, my nose barely ran. I understand WHY they’re conservative with the heat, but I wish they weren’t. That being said, it really was delicious and I wouldn’t give it back.


This is my boss’ Thai green curry. I stole a piece of broccoli out of it, but I didn’t really taste the dish as a whole. What I can tell you is that it smelled great, it was vegan and my boss liked it (and he’s not even remotely veggo).

Thai Green Curry

Finally, these are the veggie balls (vegan) served with a vegetarian mint yoghurt dipping sauce. My co-worker ordered these and while I didn’t taste them, I was assured that they were great! These didn’t look like some kind of run-of-the mill potato-flour based thing – they had a really good variety of mixed veggies in them.

Veggie Balls

The serves at Vego To Go are really decent and won’t leave you hungry – but they will make you somehow want more! The food was really tasty, the labels were clear (from memory, I think GF items were also labeled) and the cutlery was made from bamboo. The only thing I didn’t really like was that it was a small shop which felt crowded even when it wasn’t full but I can’t really complain too much because we scored a quiet table in the corner. I’d just warn you that the set up is more like a take-away shop than a café.

If I hadn’t already planned to visit another place the next day, I would definitely have gone back to try more of the menu. I highly recommend the food here and will drop in again next time I’m in (r)Adelaide!