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!

Mustard Tofu

Here’s the third recipe, using my cashew béchamel, as promised! This is a vegan version of the “mustard chicken” recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. Please excuse my dodgy night time photos – the lighting in my kitchen isn’t that great and I don’t have a very schmick camera.

Mustard Tofu Finished1
Serves 4

1.5 TBSP Canola Oil
500g Firm Tofu*, cut into 4 “steaks”
2 Sprigs Rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
4 tsp Yellow Mustard Powder
1 Leek, finely sliced
1-2 Cloves Garlic
Decent swig of white wine. I used a sparkling that had gone flat in my fridge!
1 TBSP Wholegrain Mustard
1/2 C Cashew Béchamel
Up to 1/2 C Water (as required)

  • Mix together mustard powder & rosemary. Rub onto tofu steaks.
  • Mustard Tofu Rubbed1

  • Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan or deep frying pan. Add your tofu steaks and cook for approx 4 minutes on high heat (they will be a little blackened). Flip.
  • Add the leek and garlic to one side of the pan. This is where you’ll build your sauce. Agitate as it cooks, approx 2 minutes.
  • Mustard Tofu Leeks1

  • Toss in a swig of white wine, and allow it a minute to cook off, then stir in the wholegrain mustard and cashew béchamel. You’ll need to slowly add water to get your desired consistency. The cashew béchamel will thicken very quickly – and if you’ve made it in advance/refrigerated it beforehand, it will already be quite thick – so you’ll have to use your own judgement in regards to the amount of water you require.
  • Mustard Tofu Sauce1

  • Voila! You’re ready to serve. I love this with quinoa and steamed greens; in the photograph I’ve used broccoli, but it’s also really delish with steamed choy sum or kale!

*Not all tofu is created equal. Organic is always best, but beyond that, if you don’t have a favourite brand, you’ll be flying blind here. I recommend using the Pureland one for this recipe, as it’s fairly solid. I often buy the Nutrisoy tofu as well, but that’s a little softer and has an “eggy” texture, which can fall apart and thus is more suitable for making a scramble.

Mustard Tofu Tofu1

Fancy-Pants Nachos

Happy International Day of the Nacho, everyone!

When it comes to nachos, I don’t mess about. Here’s proof.

Serves 1

50g Corn Chips
1/2 C Cooked Kidney or Black Beans
1 C Chopped Veg (I used tomato, red & green capsicum & corn)
4 TBSP Salsa
1/2 C Cashew Béchamel

Toppings: fresh coriander leaves, spring onion, 1/4 avocado, sliced olives & a lime wedge.

  • Preheat your oven to 220C.
  • Prepare your cashew bechamel.
  • Spread the corn chips across an oven proof plate.
  • In a bowl, mix together the beans, veggies & salsa.
  • Assemble the nachos by pouring 1/4 C cashew béchamel onto the corn chips, piling on the mix of beans/veg/salsa, then pouring the remaining 1/4 C cashew béchamel on top.
  • Bake at 220C for 12 minutes.
  • Prepare your toppings and serve with hot nachos straight out of the oven.


Cashew Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce)

This béchamel sauce is pretty close to my heart. It developed as a result of two things: soy milk bechamel being utterly revolting and the raw food world sucking me in with delicious cashew creams and cashew based dips.

There’s a number of ways you can use this very versatile sauce, so please don’t feel limited by my suggestions. My favourite way to have it is baked on nachos (instead of cheese), but it’s also good with lasagne, enchiladas & moussaka. It’s a great creamy pasta sauce base and works well on cauliflower & broccoli. I’ve also used it in a creamy potato bake (scalloped potatoes) which turned out pretty special! You’ll probably see it referred to more than once on this blog. I don’t like to brag, but this is one of my best creations. Make it a food staple in your life; you won’t regret it.

Cashew Bechamel
Makes 3 & 1/4 cups

1 1/2 C Unsalted Cashews*
2 C Water, divided into 1 1/4 C & 3/4 C
1/2 tsp Powdered Stock
1 tsp Savoury Yeast Flakes
1 TBSP Olive Oil Spread or Margarine
Pinch of Pepper

High Speed Blender Instructions

  • Blend cashews and water together until smooth & creamy.
  • Add the cashew/water mix to a pot on low heat and whisk in the powdered stock & savoury yeast flakes. Slowly add in the extra 3/4 C of water until your desired consistency is reached. The longer you leave the sauce on the stove, the more it will thicken.
  • Stir in the olive oil spread and add a pinch or two of pepper if desired.
  • Remove from heat & serve or proceed to use in another recipe.

Food Processor Instructions

  • Grind cashews in food processor and add 1 1/4 C water in a slow, steady stream. It will be a little grainy – don’t panic.
  • Add the cashew/water mix to a pot on low heat and whisk in the powdered stock & savoury yeast flakes. Slowly add in the extra 3/4 C of water until your desired consistency is reached. The longer you leave the sauce on the stove, the more it will thicken.
  • Stir in the olive oil spread and add a pinch or two of pepper if desired.
  • Remove from heat & blend again in the food processor until smooth & creamy, then serve or proceed to use in another recipe.


  • Keep in mind that this sauce will continue to thicken as it cools down.
  • The sauce will also thicken a little further when baked.
  • The best thing to use to get this out of a pot without making a mess is a rubber/silicone spatula; the kind you use for baking (not the egg flip sort).
  • This sauce is freezer friendly but will need to be blended again after thawing to ensure smoothness!

*You can use “raw” or dry roasted cashews, it really doesn’t matter that much. I prefer to use “raw” (which are actually steamed), but will often use roasted if that’s all I can find.