Ingredient 26 – Filipino Vinegar – Plus bonus interview with Terry Hope Romero!

I haven’t had this as long as some of the ingredients I’ve used this month but it’s been there a while. I bought it when I was testing for Terry Hope Romero’s fantastic new book Vegan Eats World because she uses it for a couple of recipes, and for whatever reason didn’t get round to testing them. Two things happened this week to make me get it out – firstly I spotted the matching Filipino soy sauce in my local shop, and secondly, my tester copy of the book arrived! I’ll talk more about the book in a later post because I’ve got a lot to squeeze in today.

I made the tofu potato adobo from the book which uses a lot of black pepper, soy sauce and vinegar. Don’t worry if you can’t find the Filipino brands I used because alternatives are given. I’ve never even eaten let alone cooked Filipino food before, so I was initially quite nervous about the amounts used, as well as the fact that it uses banana amongst its toppings, but I needn’t have worried. The flavours mellowed and came together beautifully during cooking, and the garnishes of coriander, tomato, spring onion and banana were perfect. I served it with some plain brown rice to mop up the lovely sauce.

I know I will make this again but do you have any other favourite uses for this particular vinegar or soy sauce?

To celebrate the release of Terry’s fantastic new book (I tested around 70 recipes and have many many more I want to make or remake!), I asked her a couple of questions about her approach to vegan world cooking.

You’re known for your international cooking and your new book includes recipes from around the world. How do you choose which recipes to veganise from any country?

 It’s about what I like to eat and what I also wish I could eat (as in wish was vegan)! The recipes in the book also reflect the trends I see in the cuisine Americans are gravitating too. More than ever we’re including Asian and Latin fare into our daily meals. And since I’ve done so much covering Latin cuisines, I wanted to expand my repertoire of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes: I already consume so many dishes inspired by this region I was really excited to include what I could in the book.

Secretly (or not so secretly since I end up mentioning it in the book) this is also my vegan love letter to Queens, NYC, my home. It’s the most (or must be almost) the most ethnically diverse place in the world. I can and do spend hours browsing though all the grocery stores and markets all over the borough wondering what I can do with unusual spices, grains, produce or whatever looks good.

From your upcoming book, what is your favourite recipe simply in terms of taste, and which is your favourite in terms of how hard it was to veganise?

Two good ones! It’s so hard to choose…I’ll go with right now all the great Moroccan tagines I experimented with, because I learned how to preserve lemons (very easy for anyone to do at home) and love the salty, complex, sour flavor they infuse recipes with.

 In regards to veganising (it’s a word, right?) it’s always tougher to substitute eggs and dairy than meat. I made a light and creamy Italian-style “ricotta” cheesecake minus the ricotta, and a dairy/egg/meat free pastichio, something like a Greek lasagna with a creamy topping. It took a bit of playing with cashews, tofu, soy and almond milks to get the results I was looking for. But both have become favorite dishes in this book that since I’ve found myself preparing time and time again. 

What are your 3 favourite underrated international ingredients, and how should we use them?

There are so many! Za’atar is a beautiful, complex Middle Eastern spice that’s used as a topping for bread but is so good on potatoes or sprinkled on salads or even creamy soups. It also contains sumac, a pretty dark red herb powder that’s both sour, salty, and fruity that’s also superb on it’s own sprinkled on top of juicy salads and fresh vegetables. Everybody should learn to use both of these fantastic seasonings.

A third might be pomegranate molasses; as you can see I’m a little obsessed with Middle Eastern flavors at the moment. It’s thick, sweet, and intensely fruity, and adds these complex notes to marinades and dressings. It’s nothing like sugar cane molasses, so go to a Middle Eastern market or gourmet store, get a bottle and see for yourself.

Which country’s cuisine would you love to learn more about? 

Going back to my Viva Vegan! cooking days, I still would love to learn more about Peruvian cuisine, plus more about all the diverse cuisines of the Caribbean. All of these represent complex cultures forged from native peoples of the region plus European, African and even Asian folks. Sounds a lot like another place I love, NYC, to me!

Terry Hope Romero’s latest book, Vegan Eats World, is available for preorder
on Amazon UK or Amazon US and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


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