5 plant-based seasoning blends you need to know about!

Hi, I’m Zipporah! I’m a content creator, social justice advocate, and the founder of zipporahthevegan. I’ve been vegan for about 4 years which means that I consume a fully plant-based diet. When I first started eating plant-based, people assumed that I did it because I didn’t like the taste of meat, dairy, or eggs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When I was a kid, I would call myself a meatatarian – that’s how much I enjoyed eating meat.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sacrifice anything when you adopt a plant-based diet. Many of the plant-based dishes I make today are just as tasty (if not tastier) than their animal-based counterparts.

Before I rave about my top 5 seasoning blends, I think it’s important to note that it’s best to start incorporating plant-based dishes into your life slowly. You don’t want to get trapped in a situation where you are pushing yourself too far outside of your comfort zone because then you’ll end up resenting plant-based eating and I don’t want that for you! Adopting a new habit takes time, so be patient with yourself as you adjust to this new way of eating. Also, while seasoning is key, you have to optimize the textures of your foods so that you feel that satisfaction when recreating cheesy, meaty, and/or eggy foods. One example, and my favourite, is to use the freezer method to prepare tofu chick*n to add a ‘meaty’ texture. I’m also a huge advocate of coating my tofu in cornstarch for that ‘crisp’ bite, as well as exploring different cooking techniques such as searing, frying, stewing, and baking, to replicate all of the various dishes I knew, and enjoyed, before adopting a plant-based diet.

Alright, now let’s get into the seasoning combinations!

Teriyaki sauce

I use this sauce to marinate my tofu or tempeh, as a drizzle over top of power bowls or salads, and as a sauce for my stir fry’s.

To make mine, I combine soy sauce, brown sugar, minced ginger, sesame oil, miso paste, and rice wine vinegar!

Curry seasoning 

I make vegan butter chicken almost weekly and as a Caribbean girl, I love a good curry. If you’re like me and you love a quick and easy curry, you’ll want to try this.

Here is what I use for my curry blend: curry powder, cardamom, cumin, garam masala, and smoked paprika. I toast these spices in a pan with some oil and some aromatics (ginger and onion) and then I add my veggies or meat alternatives. Once cooked, I finish it off with some coconut milk and/or tomato paste to compliment the spices and add a rich depth to the dish.

Jerk dry rub 

A jerk dry rub is essential for me to recreate the plethora of other dishes I grew up eating in a Caribbean household. While you can purchase pre-made jerk seasoning, you can also combine the following spices and make a dry rub. I like to use this dry rub to make jerk mushrooms, jerk lentils, and even jerk seitan. These meat alternatives are fairly wet so they lend themselves well to a dry rub as opposed to pressed tofu or tempeh for which I would use a wet jerk marinade instead.

This is what I use to make my jerk dry rub:

Onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg, cumin, ground clove, paprika, salt, and pepper.

You toss your desired meat alternative (cooked lentils, mushrooms, or seitan) in this rub, let it rest for a bit, and cook it as you would cook your meat.

Making eggs? 

Before I went vegan, I ate eggs every other day – it was my go-to breakfast item and I had a difficult time weaning myself from this. My breakfasts now are quite varied and tofu scrambles are a staple for my weekend brunch plates. Here is what I use to season my tofu so that it tastes just like scrambled eggs (but better):

I press my tofu a little bit, but not too much because I like to keep some of the moisture in it. I cook my tofu scramble in vegetable stock with minced garlic, turmeric, pepper, nutritional yeast, and a bit of black salt aka Kala Namak. The latter gives it that sulfury and eggy taste while the turmeric gives it that yellow colour. The nutritional yeast, or nooch as I call it, gives it a little cheesy flavour and the vegetable stock is key to keeping your tofu scramble moist given that tofu can tend to dry out quickly. That’s it! I like adding spinach for colour when it’s almost done, but it’s entirely optional.

Craving fish? 

Before I adopted a fully plant-based diet, I was a pescatarian for about 4 years because I loved the taste of seafood. I craved fish so much in that first year of eating plant-based, until I realized that I could mimic the taste by using the same seasonings, but on plant-based alternatives like tofu or carrots for a salmon lox.

Here are some items I use to recreate a fish-like flavour to my vegan seafood dishes:

  • Nori sheets/flakes
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Tamari/soy sauce
  • Miso paste
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms

I like to make a broth out of the mushroom and nori sheets, adding miso and soy sauce for a salty umami flavour. I then marinade my desired meat alternative (tofu or shredded carrots) and I proceed to prepare them as I would their animal-based counterparts.

You can play around with these ingredients to recreate that fishy taste, but in general, I recommend having some citrus, some umami, and then something that is of the sea like nori sheets or flakes to give it that distinctly fish-like flavour.

There it is! My top 5 seasoning combinations. You’ll note that none of these tips require you to purchase expensive luxury items. Simply invest in the few staples mentioned above like nooch, nori sheets, rice wine vinegar, spices, etc. and you’ll be able to create a wide variety of plant-based dishes that your whole family will enjoy!

Instagram: @zipporahthevegan

 

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