There are not nearly as many vegetarians in Asia as we might think – just over 10% of India’s population, for example. But at the same time, it’s true that it’s easier to be vegan over there. Not only because of the spirituality, but also the plants there are simply more nourishing, richer in macronutrients than the continental supply. That’s why an idea popped out of our heads and we created a dish that has almost everything in it that makes us love Asian gastronomy.
Miso, coconut, curry, pak choi, cashews, chickpeas. They have such characteristic flavors that if you throw them in the blender and then taste the mash with your eyes closed, it is an experience to consume even then. Blindfold tasting, of course, is also like imagining walking through the multicultural streets of Singapore, from a Japanese ramen bistro to a Malaysian warung across the street, from there to a Tamil chutney bar in the Indian quarter, and finally to a bao brewery in the old Chinatown.
Not only is miso an increasingly popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine as a soup base: this pâté is fermented from soy, barley and rice and is a real protein bomb, and it also has a very unique taste due to its special fermentation technique. This scratchy base is softened by Malay-Indian coconut curry – although in fact, the soft, slippery character of coconut cream treats everything in our mouths as if they were caressing the taste buds with a silk cloth. Practically this is the marinade and dressing with which we embed our eggplant slices. The garnish is a crispy donut made from the well-known chickpea from Middle Eastern cuisine, and the pak choi salad – like all Chinese vegetables, we just put it under hot water to keep the nutrients in it yet stays crispy and fresh.
So: try the miso eggplant with coconut curry sauce, pak choi, cashews and chickpea donuts if you’re looking for nutritious, Asian vegan food.