Vegan food galore

  1. Aluminium-free Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)

    Every now and then, I'll go crazy on vegan doughnuts and get heartburn. Indigestion sucks, but I've found something that works. Bicarbonate of Soda - also known as Baking Soda. For quite a while I though that all bicarbonate was the same - harmless white alkaline powder. Then I found out that there's a bit more to it, and started using Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda.

    What is the difference between Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda and regular Baking Soda?

    "Some other companies chemically produce their baking soda by creating a chemical reaction between soda ash and carbon dioxide. Our Baking Soda is from Sodium Bicarbonate which is naturally occurring in northwestern Colorado.  In the mining process, water is used to extract the sodium bicarbonate and no chemicals are used.  A closed loop process leaves the community and its surrounding virtually untouched."

    If you're confused, as I was, here's some more information about the process. It's a very informative read:

    Aluminium-free bicarbonate

    I've been using Bicarbonate of Soda, or as our American friends call it - Baking Soda - for years, and not only to treat heartburn. I use it for all sorts of stuff - toothpaste (mixed with some vegetable glycerine and a drop of peppermint oil), scrubbing the bathtub, and, of course - cooking and baking! I've now stopped using Baking Powder and instead only use Bicarbonate.

    Quick comparison: Baking powder consists of baking soda, one or more acid salts (cream of tartar and sodium aluminum sulfate) plus cornstarch. (Read more:

    Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda does taste different than regular Soda - and this could be the explanation: "Our Baking Soda is made from the deposits of mineralized sodium bicarbonate. It is extracted by an all-natural water process that uses no chemicals. When used in combination with acidic ingredients, such as buttermilk or, molasses, it releases carbon dioxide that causes the batter or dough to rise. It's also a great household cleanser and odor absorber."

    It's flavour is a bit milder, more alkaline and the powder is very, very fine and dissolves easily.

    It's a bit more pricey than your regular store-bought but chemically manufactured equivalent.  It's more than worth it though, especially if you use it for health or in cooking. It's priced at £1.44 for 453g ($2.31 for 16 oz).

    As I still can't find this in the UK, I get it sent from the USA, from iHerb, as they ship worldwide. Their international shipping costs are very affordable, and in many instances, it's cheaper to order stuff from the USA and have it posted here, than to buy it in the UK.

    TIP: You can get $5 off your first iHerb order using the coupon code BOR192

    In February 2010, owner Bob Moore announced plans to give the company to his employees using an employee stock ownership plan. Basically - the boss gave away his company to the workers. How fab is that?

    Do you use Bicarbonate to treat heartburn? Or do you have other suggestions for its use? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


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  2. Yuzu + Tabasco = Yuzusco! Hot japanese tabasco-style sauce with Yuzu!

    If you've read my previous post on Yuzu sake, you know I'm a big lover of this zesty Japanese citrus fruit. When I saw a small botle of something called "Yuzusco", I had to try it!



    Yuzusco is a Japanese take on the classic tabasco pepper sauce - but instead of hot peppers, the flavour comes from green chilies and yuzu fruit. It's spicy and fresh at the same time, and will impart a unique flavour to your dishes.

    I have tried it in stews, pasta and sandwiches. It's absolutely yummy! You only need a couple of drops, as it's quite concentrated - but make sure you use it up quickly, as the shelf life is only about 6 months. This is probably due to the fact that is does not contain any preservatives - which is a good thing!

    I have been looking at a number of other yuzu products, but unfortunately, Japanese food seems to be full of artificial additives - colourings, flavours, preservatives and a lot of MSG. Yuzusco is fortunatly free from it all!


    Ingredients: Brewing vinegar, green chili pepper, yuzu peel, salt.

    More info on Yuzusco is available directly from the manufacturer, who describes the condiment:

    "The rich fragrance of the citron, the spiciness of green chili peppers, and the bracing aftertaste of the vinegar bring out the flavors of the individual ingredients of a dish to the maximum."

    Yuzusco is available from Japan Centre in London. Have you tried Yuzusco, or anything else yuzu? Do you have any usage tips or ideas? Maybe a version of "Bloody Mary" - Yuzu sake + Yuzusco?  Let me know!

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  3. Matamis Na Bao - resistance is futile! A finger-licking vegan alternative to Dulce de Leche.

    On one of my many trips to London's Chinatown, in one of the alleys lined with red lanterns, I found gold! Vegan food gold, that is - which is worth MORE than real gold, I'm tellin' ya!

    A jar of inconspicuous, thick brown mass was sitting quietly on a shelf in an Oriental supermarket until I picked it up, read the ingredients, and did not believe my eyes. All-vegan. Delicious. New. Exciting. I had to have it!

    Matamis Na bao! Yum yum yum!

    I bought a jar of "Matamis Na Bao", took it home and heard the angels sing as I opened the jar. This is a thick, sweet, syrupy stuff made from fresh coconut juice and sugar. It smells - and tastes divine.

    "Matamis Na Bao" is a traditional spread from The Philippines, usually eaten on toast and used to make other desserts. Other varieties of this coconut jam are enjoyed throughout the region - in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

    Before I became vegan, I was a vegetarian for many years. I used to devour jars of "Dulce de Leche", the Argentinian condensed, caramelised milk spread made by slowly simmering milk and sugar for hours.

    "Matamis Na Bao" is a fantastic vegan alternative to "Dulce de Leche". It has the same thick, creamy and milky taste, but with a hint of fresh coconut.

    Try it as it is, straight from the jar. If refrigerated, it will thicken even more and be quite hard to get out of the jar.


    "Matamis Na Bao" is absolutely amazing on ice-cream or on toast, but it really shines when used as glazing on vegan muffins. Make sure the muffins have cooled down, and that Matamis is at a room temperature. Use a knife, and spread thinly and evenly on top of each muffin.

    I guarantee you and your friends will enjoy this. It'll send your muffins to another galaxy. I'm not bluffing!

    Have you tried Matamis before? Any other tips on how to use it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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  4. Yuzu Sake - something uniquely wonderful from Japan

    Yuzu Sake. You must try it!Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. Its flavour is amazing - not like anything you've tried before. It's tart and bitter, citrus-like, tangy and fresh, all at the same time.

    Yuzu is used in Japanese cooking - both the juice and the rind are utilised to impart the unique yuzu flavour to many dishes. Try yuzu juice instead of lemon in salad dressings. Ponzu sauce also contains yuzu.

    One other use is to flavour the traditional Japanese brew - sake. To be honest - I'm not a big fan of strong drinks, but after trying Yuzu sake, I'm converted.

    Yuzu sake is made by a small Japanese brewery called Umenoyado. This is what they write on their website:

    "In the so-called "second jizake boom" of the 1980s, the name of Ume no Yado became quite well known. Despite our small output, we gained a following, even in Tokyo, and people would often ask me, "Can't you make a bit more?" Naturally, we were very grateful for this, but feel, now as then, that it is better to keep Ume no Yado's output at around its current level of 1600 koku (288kl). Presently, if we receive a query from a customer, and we are given the name of the product and the shipping date on the label, I know the taste of the sake without even having to look at my records. "Ah, it's that sake we wanted to ship after aging it longer, but were running short of stock," we say to ourselves, for example. Or we receive the comment "It tastes a bit flatter than usual," and we admire the acuteness of the customer's palate, while regretting the shortfall of weeks or months in the maturation period - and taking steps to rectify the problem.
    Yes, I think we shall continue to do our business on this scale, where we can keep a close, personal eye on everything. "A small brewery" we shall remain."

    Lovely! And the flavour of their yuzu sake is uniquely refreshing - just what a sake needs. A touch of that bitter-sweet citrus note to perfectly balance the raw strength and energy of sake. A perfect combination.

    Umenoyado have confirmed that their Yuzu sake is brewed without any animal ingredients, and thus suitable for vegans.

    More on yuzu on Wikipedia »

    Umenoyado Brewery website »

    Ripe Yuzu Fruit.

    Update: Yuzu sake is now available at the:

    Japan Centre, Piccadilly »

    Ricewine shop, Soho »

    Arigato on Brewer street, Soho »

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  5. Delicious Japanese vegetables from NamaYasai

    One of many fantastic things about living in London is choice. You can get anything you like here, and when it comes to world food, this city rules. I was very excited when I discovered NamaYasai. They are "natural agriculture" growers of Japanese vegetables and herbs. And they have a Japanese vegetable box scheme!

    Wonderful Japanese vegetables from NamaYasai.


    What's wonderful about this small producer based in Lewes, East Sussex is that they do not use any pesticides or fertilisers. All vegetables are from Japanese varieties, grown on their own land and picked the same day.

    They grow, among other things: shungiku, gobo, shiso, nira, daikon, kabu, edamame, mitsuba, mizuna, karashina, myoga, kabocha and wasabina.

    I was lucky to try one of their Japanese vegetable boxes. All the produce was fresh, crisp and VERY tasty! You can tell these vegetables are grown with love and care. The flavours of wasabina and shiso blew me away. Unique, tangy and refreshing. The box is very affordable, so do give it a go.

    Robin and Ikuko of NamaYasai also had a stall at this year's Japan Matsuri, a celebration of all things Japanese at Spitafields market. I was fortunate to be able to buy some more of their amazing vegetables there.

    Robin from NamaYasai.


    They currently have collection points in Dulwich, Finchley, Hackney, Isleworth and Wimbledon and would welcome more – especially in West Acton or Croydon. The person setting up a collection point receives a discount on their vegetables and they invite anyone able to organise a group of people (perhaps already meeting somewhere as a club - or for a shop or café - this is a good way to increase footfall) to get in touch with Namayasai.

    You simply must try these! Check out the NamaYasai website here »

    Soon you'll be munching on the delicious pink daikon, just like me! Enjoy freshly sliced with just a hint of sea salt.

    Pink daikon from NamaYasai.

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