“I want to introduce you to your new favourite dish … It’s creamy, punchy, spicy – everything you want in a bowl of noodles,” chef Shannon Martinez writes in her new cookbook Vegan With Bite.
Martinez is the creative powerhouse behind two of Melbourne’s best vegan eateries, Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli. The chef doesn’t identify as vegan herself, but she’s one of the country’s leading authorities on creating plant-based food that’s both exciting and delicious.
Her book doesn’t just contain recipes and cooking tips – it’s about how to create tasty food that has less impact on the environment. “It’s time we ditched the preconceived notion of what vegan food is, or can be,” she writes.
“Great vegan food isn’t tricky or expensive. It isn’t for the super rich … Real vegan food is delicious. It is full of texture and flavour, as well as being a good thing for the planet … If you eat meat at all (I do), we need to flip this outdated idea on its head and start seeing veggies as the hero and meat for what it really is: a luxury and a privilege for those who choose to eat it.”
Last year I was served these exact noodles by Martinez, and I can attest they are indeed fabulous. Sure, on first glance it looks like you’ll need a stack of ingredients, but if you’ve got a fairly well-stocked pantry, you should have most of these on hand already.
Recipe: Shannon Martinez’s Dan Dan Noodles
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
500g Shanghai noodles or medium thick wheat noodles
3 tbsp light tahini
3 tbsp Maggi seasoning sauce or light soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp caster sugar
½ teaspoon Chinese ﬁve spice
1 tsp toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
125ml (½ cup) Sichuan chilli oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
125ml (½ cup) boiling water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 spring onions thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
100g Sichuan pickled mustard greens or vegetable of your choice
1 garlic clove, minced
250g veggie mince or soaked textured vegetable protein
2 tsp Chinese sweet-bean paste or hoisin sauce
2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 Lebanese cucumber cut into sticks
2 bunches bok choy, blanched and refreshed
1 handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
80g (½ cup) roasted and salted peanuts
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
To make the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
For the mince mixture, heat the oil in a wok over a medium-high heat and stir-fry the ginger, whites of the spring onion and pickled vegetables for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Add the mince or textured vegetable protein and stir well to combine, breaking it up into small bits if using veggie mince, then stir through the bean paste, shaoxing wine and dark soy sauce. Stir-fry for another minute, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, then drain and place in a large bowl. Add some or all of the sauce depending on how heavily dressed you like your noodles (I use it all), and mix well to coat.
Divide the noodles among four deep serving bowls, top with the mince mixture, green parts of the spring onions and garnishes, and serve.
This is an edited extract from Vegan with Bite by Shannon Martinez ($34.99), published by Hardie Grant Books and out now. Photographer: © Nikki To.