Category Archives: Vegetarianism

Rutabaga Soup (Azuki’s Cooking Series #6)

Last week I bought some beet at the supermarket. However, when my husband went about preparing a smoothie, he said, hey this is not beet! I was like, what do you mean? Sure enough, this little thing is most certainly not a beet. I had no idea what it is, but tasted it and decided that it’s not something you eat raw or put into smoothie.

Finally I got around to doing some sleuth work, and determined that my little infiltrator is a rutabaga. Then I googled around for a recipe.

I cut the rutabaga in chunks, along with potatoes, carrots and onion. I added in some spices, bay leaves and pepper.

After they are cooked I pureed them in my blender. I prefer my soup a little chunky.

I like my soup a bit chunky, so I went easy on the blending. Then I heated it again in a pan, adding a bit of cooking wine and salt, to final adjust the taste.

I topped it with some scallion and shredded asiago. It was very delicious!

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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Cooking, Food, Vegetarianism


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Adopt A Turkey

I have been too busy to do it sooner, but finally I completed my yearly Thanksgiving ritual of… adopting a turkey at Farm Sanctuary!!

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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Animals, Vegetarianism


Korean Lettuce Salad (Azuki’s Cooking Series #3)

I got a nice pack of lettuce from Costco, and after a few days of salads, and then wraps, I crave for something different.   Something a little oriental.  I suddently remember the lettuce salad that I eat at Korean restaurants.  It comes with the grilled beef bulgogi, and it’s so delicious that I am quite contend to eat it wih my rice and leave the meat to the guys. 

A search on google yields mostly recipes for Korean lettuce wrap with beef, but I manage to find what I want.

For the dressing, mince some garlic and green onion.  Remember that you are using the garlic raw, which is a lot more pungent and spicy, so go easy on it.  A clove or two should be plenty.  Add to it a tablespoon each of soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil to taste.  Add red pepper powder as well, if preferred.  I modified the recipe by adding some minced ginger and miso. 

Then chop up some lettuce, toss with dressing and sprinkle with sesame.  It’s simple but addictively delicious.  The flavor is on the strong side as the salad is not to be eaten on its own as an appertizer, but served along with other dishes to go with rice.

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Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Asia, Cooking, Food, Vegetarianism


Say No to Shark Fin Soup

The ecological disaster of shark killing for their fins is nothing new, but recently there is a reflamed discussion in Hong Kong, stirred up by a video and the subsequent news report.  ( and  A group of young divers from Hong Kong went to The Philippines for a vacation, and witnessed a young whale shark dying on the beach, its fins cut off and its body covered with knife wounds.   The young woman, still choked with tears as she recalled the scene, pleaded people not to eat shark fin soup.  While the fact that Chinese’s demand for shark fins is the reason for many shark species’ near-extinction and a very cruel practice (the equivalent of chopping all limbs off a person and leaving him to die), the highly emotional eye witness account generate much attention and discussions among the public.


A facebook group has started a pledge to Say No to Shark Fin Soup.  As a major consumption of the soup happens during banquets, there is a movement to ask people, especially newly weds, not to serve shark fin soup.  As a matter of fact, WWF has a list of organizations who have pledged not to serve shark fin at their company events, and the list includes The University of Hong Kong, Disney and  HSBC.

When I read the news, my reaction was, “Finally!”  Generally speaking, Hong Kong people do not have a strong sense of environmental protection, especially when it comes to what not to eat.  I can understand how, a long time ago, some fishermen caught a shark, and tried their very best to turn all body parts into edible food, a feat that Chinese is likely to have bragging rights to.  I don’t think there is any nation who consume a bigger variety of animal parts.  Anyway, for those who haven’t tried it, shark fin is basically a bland food that takes days and lots of work to make edible, and the flavor of the soup is derived from the chicken, ham, abalone and other ingredients stewed with the shark fin.  I can imagine how, with more primitive fishing boats and tools, it is a hard ingredient to come by and thus made it a  delicacy afordable only to the rich, giving the dish a prestiguous statue. 

Today shark fin is no longer a by product of a caught fish. As a  merchandise fetching up to 500 times more than the meat itself, the fishermen started to cut the fins off the fish and, not bothering with processing the meat or wasting cargo space, throw the dying fish back into the ocean.  As humans becoming a much more capable killer of sharks than the other way around, the shark population is being depleted faster than the slow growing fish can reproduce.  Add to that the increased affluence of China, and sharks are in serious trouble.  As the proven scientific fact shows that shark fin has little nutritional value and lots of mercury and heavy metal,  there is really no argument to continue eating shark fin.  (Well, actually on surfing the web, I came across an argument: if we stop eating shark fin, we will put those fishermen out of work.  To which I would reply, yeah, just so Afghan poppy growers can bring food to their kids, go get some opium.) 

Hong Kong is the epicenter of shark fin trade, importing close t 10,000 metric tons of shark fins a year.  Some comments claim that whatever decreased consumption this recent publicity may generate is hardly a drop in the bucket compares to the consumption in China.  Nonetheless, I feel very positive.  All great movements start with a very small group, but that small, seemingly insignificant effort is a pebble that can generate lots of waves.  In fact, my research has led me to another news article.  The Sakanaga kaitenzushi chain in Hong Kong recently won a bid for a tail of blue fin tuna, a fish which is near extinction.  As the news made headline in newspapers, environmental groups voiced their protests, and a boycott was started.  Granted, the number of people signing the boycott are likely less than what the chain’s customers number in one day, but it is an encouraging move nonetheless.  While a lot of news have portrayed China as a country with little environmental concern or consumer awareness, when I read blogs and forum posts online, I often find educated, forward-thinking posters who are eager to make their country and the world a better place.  I sincerely wish that everybody in the world will take a clearer look at his/her food and makes a more conscientious food choice.  I believe that one day eating shark fin soup will looked upon in the same way as wearing fur.    Our best effort to promote awareness is needed, however, before it’s too late.

Here are some more links about the topic.

You can also sign a Care2 petition at:

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Posted by on April 11, 2010 in Animals, Asia, Food, Vegetarianism


My Thanksgiving Turkey

Meet my turkey, Rhonda:

Rhonda, my turkey
Rhonda, My Happy Turkey

Yup, my turkey has a name.  I “adopted” her at Farm Sanctuary, a beautiful haven for abused farm animals that have the luck to be rescued.  I’ve visited their farm at New York and it’s truly paradise like.  It has been my Thanksgiving  tradition (about the only tradition I have) for a few years. 

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Posted by on November 16, 2009 in Animals, Sites I Like, Vegetarianism


Taiwanese Oyster Noodle – Vegan Style (Azuki’s Cooking Series #2)

I would have titled the post Vegetarian Oyster, except that, following my previous post on vegetarian spider, I won’t want any confusion that scientists have discovered a new breed of oyster.

A few years back when I attended a Tzu Chi study group, the host sister often makes a vegetarian noodle dish.  The Taiwanese noodle is dark brown in color and very thin, like vermicilli.  The study group ended,  and recently I started having cravings for that noodle.  When I spotted the noodle at the supermarket I brought a pack.  The first time around wasn’t quite successful, so I went online in search of a proper recipe, and came across one for making vegan oyster.

I know Chinese eats most anything and has a vegan mock version of most anything, but it was the first time I heard of vegan oyster.   Naturally I couldn’t resist making it.

The recipe is actually very simple.  You soak the shiitake mushrooms, chop them up, tear a nori seaweed sheet into tiny pieces, and mix the two together with some flour, then fry it.

vegan oyster

vegan oyster

I used shiitake, though white button or baby bella should work too. Shiitake has a firmer texture and more umami.  I was amazed at the result.  It tastes good, and it tastes quite like the real thing: the seaweed giving it the brine-like flavor reminiscent of sea, and the mushroom a meaty, juicy texture. 

As for the noodle, my mistake first time was cooking it like most noodles: it’s done when it’s soft.  Not for this noodle.  I let it stew for a few more minutes, together with shredded mushroom, wood ear and carrot.  Feel free to add bamboo shoots and bean sprouts if you have them.  

dried wood ear
(dried wood ear)

rehydrated wood ear
(after soaking in water)

When ready, add soy sauce and sugar to the broth, generous amount of rice vinegar (black preferred).  Thicken broth with corn starch (add corn starch to a small bowl, add a little cold water, stir till dissolved, then add to the hot broth. Do not add corn starch powder directly to broth.) 


(I didn’t take picture the first time I made this, so in the picture, I use plain white noodle instead of the dark Taiwanese vermicelli)


Sprinkle on cilantro and white pepper.   Enjoy!!

veg oyster soup

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Posted by on October 13, 2009 in Asia, Cooking, Vegetarianism


Vegetarian Spider

veg spider








In a possible affront to its fierce meat-eating relatives, one jumping spider prefers to dine vegetarian, munching on specialized leaf-tips of acacia shrubs, finds a new study.

The eight-legged vegetarian, called Bagheera kiplingi (named after Kipling of The Jungle Book fame), lives in Central America, and is now considered a rarity among the world’s 40,000 or so spider species, most of which are strictly predators, feeding on insects and other animals. B. kiplingi is about the size of a person’s pinky nail.

Instead it has developed a laidback lifestyle based on nutritious wild acacia plants — and has no need to spin a web to catch its prey.

The females have even dispensed with the time-honoured spider custom of eating their sexual partners immediately after mating.  The vegetarian diet of B kiplingi appears to have prompted other changes. Since it no longer needs to go through the energy-sapping business of catching prey, it has diverted its web-spinning abilities to building family homes. Mothers use the nests to rear their young.  

A vegetarian diet may also encourage the typically territorial spiders to cooperate, says Christopher Meehan at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who has seen hundreds gathering on one plant, entire families sharing nests, and males defending nests from ant attacks.

“These spiders may be the ‘Gandhis’ of the spider world: life-long vegetarians, they tolerate one another’s company and may even cooperate peacefully in the true sense.  The abundance of food available to it may be allowing it to let down its defences.” says Meehan.

“This may be a fascinating snapshot into the evolution of a social creature as it transitions from hunter to gatherer.”

Going veggie makes you gentler and look cuter!

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Posted by on October 13, 2009 in Animals, Vegetarianism