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Sustainable Asian shop

Eating is a big deal in Hong Kong, and there is a thriving vegan scene. Small town vegetarian Taoist cemetery Seen Koon seats 480, and ‘Big Buddha’ Po Lin Monastery canteen seats 300. Raw restaurants include Greenwoods in the city, and Rawsoever on Lamma Island. Tofu is available in most restaurants, and is not just for veggies. Large dim sum cafes the size of a Wetherspoons host mid- morning ‘happy hours’ for retired people. The Green Monday movement is partnered with our UK Meat Free Monday. Green Queen magazine published a guide to types of tofu and also explains the meaning of a wet market.


Vegan oriental supermarket food


There are certain ingredients which we haven’t found in mainstream supermarkets, so we buy them from the oriental grocers:

Deep fried tofu cubes- very tasty, but less healthy little puffs.

Dried beancurd sticks- like tofu, but a chewy or silky texture, depending how long it cooked for. Either soak and stir fry, or put in straight in a stew or in the rice cooker to make rice porridge.

Dried bitter melon and dried fungus- vegetables to cook as above.

Radish cakes- a handy standby which cooks quickly in the oven or hob, and is similar to mochi. you can also put them on a tabletop barbecue, or hot pot.

Dried, seasoned black beans- used to make a stir fry sauce or flavour rice.


Sustainable supermarkets


I’ve been looking into how to find ethical alternatives to some of the things we eat, this is what I found:


Stir fry staples


Kilombero makes fairly traded rice, and you can get Fairtrade organic noodles from King Soba. Noodles can form part of a prosperity salad toss, for which there is a vegan blog and video. Tropical Wholefoods produce Fairtrade dried mushrooms. We used all these delicious things in a supper club.


Organic sticky rice can be used to make rice parcels. Refill organic rice and cashew nuts can be bought from Abel and Cole, and Planet Organic stock these plus buckwheat, rice flour and mung beans to sprout (or make a curry) in bioplastic. There are various modern takes on rice, made from different proteins and vegetables available at TheVeganKind. The Fairtrade cashew nuts in supermarkets are made by a company I used to work for called Liberation.


Localish British organic plastic free dried seaweed is made by The Cornish Seaweed Company, and British organic beans, peas and pulses are grown by Hodmedods. Sesame oil is made in Europe by Essential Trading. Fresh vegetables can be used in a stir fry, salad, or bamboo steamer.


My child likes cutting tofu, as it is easy to decimate with their safety knife. Bioa presents organic plastic free tofu and tempeh in glass jars. Tofurei is an artisanal tofu maker who delivers around Norfolk. Since I lived in Norwich it has become a vegan heaven, and is well worth a visit when the world opens up again. The internet says it is ‘easy’ to make your own tofu. I haven’t tried this yet, but we do have a soy milk machine, as is common in Hong Kong.


Sauces


We have Steenburg’s organic 5 spice blend, and combine it with cornflour (plastic free from the Suma workers cooperative) to make a tofu batter. Steenburgs also make ginger. Clearspring produces organic tamari soy sauce (which we cook with or add to our plates on a daily basis), brown rice vinegar and noodle broth.

TheVeganKind supplies Chinese cooking sauces from Yau’s, Meridian and a few sweet chilli sauces to drizzle. There is an organic Hoisin sauce made by Westcountry Spice. Daddy Vegan recently made a sweet and sour sauce for our eco community with: tomato sauce, apple juice, tamari and sesame oil.

Miso is a Japanese fermented paste which is generally used to make soup. I find it can be added to many dishes, however, and I like it on rice cakes with a slice of tofu straight from the fridge. Kimchi comes from Korea and is fermented like sauerkraut, but spicey. GreenBay has organic versions, as well as a kimchi hot sauce.


Snacks


My child loves seaweed nori paper sheets (now recyclable), and I do too. We bring them out with us a snack to eat on their own, or we add tahini or peanut butter. Occasionally we even make proper rolls. You can buy cheaper nori paper in Asian supermarkets.

Organic rice paper can be used to make spring roll pancakes. You don’t need to cook Vietnamese style rice paper, just soften it with water and add finely chopped vegetables. This is a simple and enjoyable activity for families.


Dessert


A common pudding in Hong Kong is a sort of fruity jelly made from mango, coconut and agar, which you can buy from GreenBay. You can now get plastic free dried mango, Fairtrade creamed coconut, or organic coconut milk powder. Clearspring package organic silken tofu in a recyclable tetra pack. This can be used to make a pudding which is sold as street food in Hong Kong, but which wasn’t my favourite thing.


Drinks


Buy Fairtrade organic green tea from Qi. I’ve had some lovely lattes made with organic black sesame tahini (Sun & Seed) or purple sweet potato. We had a phase of adding goji berries to hot water for extra nutrients. You can get them plastic free from: Planet Organic, Abel and Cole or Natures Health Box.


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