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

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.