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Holiday feast meets west: Asian ingredients boost seasonal comfort foods

As we head into comfort food season, we can expect the reappearance of foods that will stick to our proverbial ribs, from stews to desserts to lots of things with pumpkins and squash. Although we associate this seasonal “comfort” with high calories and simple flavour profiles, introducing Asian ingredients into seemingly familiar recipes is sure to stir things up.

Vietnamese spices (such as those by New York City-based Vân Vân) can add an extra punch to stews and stir fry. The fibre-rich root vegetable superfood Konjac (brought to the international market by Moyu), has been a staple in Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean cuisines for centuries. Adding Konjac-powered mix and comparable preparations to both eastern and western dishes enriches the texture and the nutritional value of the finished product. And swapping out lemon or lime juice with yuzu (via a cold-pressed 100 per cent Yuzu Juice, Yuzu Super Juice and other products from Yuzuco) adds a fresh new zip to cocktails, desserts, and condiments.

It’s tempting to eat out more during the fall and winter, especially as restaurants tempt you by mixing and matching western and eastern ideas on their menus. However, why not get a jump on healthier habits instead, such as eating better and sharpening you cooking skills? You may even discover a new appreciation for comforting old favourites.
Pumpkin muffin
Pumpkin Konjac muffins
5 eggs
75 g pumpkin puree
1 pouch (40 g) Moyu Batter & Baking Mix
100 g dates, finely chopped (sweetener)
Roasted pumpkin, diced (to taste)
Chocolate chips (to taste)
Roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (to taste)
Roasted pumpkin seeds (to taste)

1. Preheat the oven to 185°C (365°F).

2. Line the baking mould with a non-stick liner or apply non-stick oil spray to the mould.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk five eggs using a hand whisk or mixer.

4. Mix the batter.

• Add 75 g of your purees, 1 pouch (40 g) of Moyu Mix, and your preferred sweetener to the whisked eggs.

• Stir the mixture with a whisk or spoon until well combined. The batter should be smooth, lump-free, and sticky.

• Mix in your chosen add-ins.

5. Incorporate your chosen add-ons like nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or others into the batter.

6. Transfer the muffin batter into the prepared moulds.

7. Bake the Muffins
Chef suggestions: for medium muffin moulds, bake at 185°C (365°F) for about 18–20 minutes. For a 1 lb loaf mould, bake at 185°C (365°F) for approximately 45 minutes. Keep in mind that baking times vary.

Choose plain yoghurt without added sugar for best results.
Lemongrass ginger beef shank
650 g beef shank, thinly sliced
30 g oyster sauce
35 g five spice powder
10 g fish sauce
18 g Vân Vân Coastal Purple Shallot
3 g Vân Vân Heaven Facing Chili
8 g Vân Vân Northern Mountain Garlic, minced
7 g Vân Vân Delta Lemongrass
5 g Vân Vân Sparrow Ginger
10 g sugar
3 g salt
50 g vegetable oil or chili oil

1. Mix oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and oil together in a bowl, add beef shank to marinade for 30 minutes. Or marinade overnight in a sealed container for deeper flavour.

2. Soak all Vân Vân ingredients in equal part water for about 2 minutes then drain.

3. Heat the pan on medium low with oil and sweat all aromatics.

4. Add marinated beef shank, sear and brown to your liking. Add a little water to retain moisture.

5. Cook in pan until desired doneness. Garnish with cilantro and Vân Vân garlic.
Yuzu olive cake
4 eggs
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Yuzuco 100% Yuzu juice
½ cup olive oil
1 cup almond meal
½ cup flour or gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

1. Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for a couple of minutes or until mixture has thickened and turned a very pale yellow. 

2. Add Yuzu juice and olive oil, beat again quickly. 

3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add them to the wet ones, gently folding in with a spatula.

4. Pour into an 8- or 9-inch spring pan.

5. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for about 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick or knife into the centre of the cake: if it comes out clean, the cake is done. 

6. Optional: dcorate with powdered sugar, yuzu zest, or candied yuzu peel right before serving.
Van Van Northern Mountain Garlic
Van Van Heaven Facing Chili


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