You're invited to join Elena in the Erstwilder Kitchen. As a freelance illustrator, Elena works from home where she's able to take the opportunity to cook at home! Here's her favourite recipe to cook for brunch/lunch her favourite meal of the day.
My Chinese-Malaysian heritage lends itself to my many improvised lunches, most of which consists of different versions of pasta or stir-fries. One of my favourite stir-fries is a Malaysian dish called Sar Ho Fun, which traditionally consists of an eggy stir fry of vegetables and seafood, on top of fresh flat rice noodles. Having been a vegetarian for many years, I often do a vegan version of this dish, using whatever ingredients I have in the fridge.
Vegan Sar Ho Fun
Ingredients (serves one)
Approx 200g of Kway Teow – fresh flat rice noodle*, each strand separated to prevent clumping when cooked
1½ - 2 cups of Japanese* or traditional cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces*, stems sliced diagonally no thicker than 1cm
1 small or ½ medium carrot thinly sliced
½ cup of pine, shitake, king or oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 small bunch Bak Choy, stems chopped into bite-size pieces
1 heaped tbsp cornflour* mixed in 1 cup of water (if using an ordinary spoon, this is as much as you can get on the spoon without it falling off)
¼ cup of water
3 tbs olive or cooking oil
Dash of light soy sauce*
2-3cm ginger, julienned into strips.
(Optional) ¼ lemon
(Optional) garlic, finely chopped
(Optional) pinch of salt
All ingredients should be pre-prepared prior to cooking. All times are approximate and it might take longer or shorter depending on the cookware you use and the size of the burner on your cooktop. Make sure to use the biggest burner on your cooktop, on the highest setting. If you don’t have a wok, use a large deep saucepan. It will be difficult to toss the veg if you use a shallow saucepan.
- Heat up a traditional iron or non-stick wok, putting in about 1tbs of oil, making sure the sides of wok are coated. Add the rice noodles, put the lid on for about 30 seconds. Toss the noodles around, then lid back on for another 30 sec – 1 minute. Take them out when the noodles are softened, and some look a bit crispy. Squeeze over ¼ lemon, or dash of soy sauce, then toss again to mix. Remove onto a plate and cover to keep warm, taking care to remove the crispy ones that may have stuck to the wok.
- Add the mushrooms, ginger and (optional) garlic as well as the rest of the oil to the wok.
- Toss, then put the lid on for about 30 seconds.
- Add the carrot and cauliflower, toss, and add ¼ cup of water, lid back on for 1-2 minutes, checking a couple of times to see if the vegetables are nearly cooked. You can tell the vegetables are ready when they look a bit translucent and the edge of a spatula will press into a piece of carrot. I like my carrots really soft, you might cook for less time if you prefer them crunchier.
- Now add the cornflour mixture to the wok, and lid back on for 1 minute or so. Make sure the cornflour mixture is thoroughly stirred before adding otherwise the cornflour settles to the bottom of the container really quickly and won't pour out.
- When the liquid in the wok is bubbling, toss everything again, and then add the Bak Choy. Add a tiny dash more water if the mixture doesn’t look gluggy enough – this dish is meant to be gluggy without being a soup. Lid back on for 30 seconds to soften the greens, and then toss the Bak Choy through.
- Add a dash of soy sauce or salt if you prefer. Toss, and then serve on top of the cooked noodles.
- Kway Teow/Kueh Teow/Banh-Pho – fresh flat rice noodle – is found in Asian grocery stores. They come in different thicknesses – choose the type where the noodle is 1 cm in diameter. The noodle usually comes in 1kg packets, so a serve for this dish is about a fifth of the packet, more if you are hungry. An opened packet will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
- A bite-size piece is about 3 cm in diameter.
- Japanese cauliflower is my current favourite vegetable, and can be found in some Asian grocery stores. It looks like a traditional cauliflower that has opened up, and has green stems and is sweeter. The stems are edible and very tasty.
- When substituting mushrooms, if you can't find the mushrooms mentioned here, you can also use swiss browns, preferably in button form. Field or button mushrooms tend to be too watery for a stir fry, even one as gluggy as this.
- Pure cornflour is preferable to wheat-based cornflour as it thickens up better. It is also gluten-free.
- There are many different versions and brands of soy sauce – the one you don’t want to use for this dish is the dark version, which is usually mushroom soy sauce. Light sauce soy is light enough to see through, dark is not. How much soy sauce/salt you add is up to you, you can always add more while eating if it's not salty enough, or none at all! You can also substitute tamari.