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Vegan and Vegetarian Cooking Class in Manila by The Vegetarian Kitchen

A basic course on vegan and vegetarian cooking  in Manila was my birthday wish this year. I did not wished for a vacation somewhere or a new gadget - these are no longer my priorities anymore. Deciding to take the plant-based journey that started in June of 2019 was one of the most challenging parts in my life because I live with my family who aren't open to this idea yet. I allotted lots of time googling where to take vegan and vegetarian cooking lessons in Manila but I found very few. I really want one that is a class with a physical interaction and affordable. I first searched for vegan culinary school near me like Makati or BGC but I found one.

I am financially able to subscribe to a plant-based food monthly delivery service in Makati where I live or order from different vegan restaurants in Manila but I think these are not practical enough. Learning to cook plant-based food at the comforts of my home for me is a lifetime achievement.  

A post from Manila Vegans Facebook group one day lead me to this vegan culinary course in Quezon City for Php 2, 500 if I am not mistaken.  It's the cheapest that I can ever find but the location is not ideal to me. However, I still pursued because I am serious AF to know other options of cooking in a plantbased diet here in Manila. K paid for the vegan cooking class - who am I to say no?

It was held inside The Vegetarian Kitchen, one of the oldest quaint restaurant serving plantbased food in Quezon City. Take note that this plant-based cooking class is more of a demo type. I and the rest of the "students" remained on our chair for the whole duration of the vegan cooking demonstration.   What's very interesting about this beginner vegan cooking class in Manila is that the owner of the restaurant is Sattvic vegan. She is vegan by faith. She doesn't even use garlic, onion, mushroom etc. for her cooking. 

The management behind this vegetarian and vegan basic cooking class in Quezon City told us that all the recipes and procedures shared in this cooking class are for home use only and cannot be posted on social media or used for commercial purposes.  Thus, I respect their choice and I  follow what they told us. 

Each of us was given a folder containing the ingredients, directions and very practical tips that we can incorporate when we go back to our home cook the dishes ourselves. These dishes do not use any meat or animal-derived ingredients at all. 

We were taught 8 dishes that use the most common plant-based ingredients: black salt, liquid smoke, vegan butter, soy meat, gluten or seitan, nutritional yeast which is a great replacement for cheese and the "fishless" sauce that tastes exactly like the one coming from fish minus the yucky smell of the dead cadaver of this animal. We even get to see what these plant-based ingredients look like, touch, smell and taste. 

Like I said, I cannot share the ingredients and instructions to cook the food that was taught to us so what I am going to share is give a bit of information about highlighted plant-based ingredient in each of these dishes below:

1. Deconstructed all-vegetable sushi with wasabi mayo
We were taught to make wasabi tofu mayonnaise (6 ingredients), sushi rice (4 ingredients) and all-vegetable salad (8 ingredients)  for this dish. 

Plant-based ingredient highlighted:
Ever heard of black salt as an egg substitute? It is actually my first time to learn about this. I only knew pink salt aside from the usual white/rock salt. Indian black salt consists of sodium chloride which is the main component of table salt plus small amounts of sulfates, sulfides, iron and magnesium. The sodium chloride is responsible for the salty taste, sulfide provides the pinkish-grey color and hydrogen sulfide is the reason for its smell. The staff also went all the way by showing us what a black salt is. Black salt is one of the ingredients used to make the wasabi tofu mayonnaise.

2.  "Boeuf Bourguignon" Classic French meatless stew with red wine topped with rich flacky crust
Prior to showing us how to make this dish, we were taught how to marinate soy meat which is exactly the same as the traditional way except this one is guilt-free because you know you're not doing it with creature that was once alive and now dead. I also learned how to prepare a homemade vegetable broth which is simply boiling leftover veggies then using the liquid to enhance the flavor of what you cook. I haven't tried this one until now because as a newbie cook myself, this is overwhelming specially doing the pie crust.  

Plant-based ingredients highlighted:
This dish features soy meat or meat magic. It is 100% non-GMO soya beans defatted flour. I learned that after soaking or boiling in water, the weight of it becomes heavier 3x than its initial weight including its size. It is flavorless and very outstanding in absorbing ingredients specially through the process of marination. That's why it is perfect as meat substitute. Soy meat is the replacement for the beef in this dish.

Another one is vegan butter which tastes and smells very near to its dairy counterpart. The best brand in the market for vegan butter is Nuttelex Original which is available in SNR stores, Hi-Top Supermarket, Cash & Carry, SM Hypermart and more.  

3. Arroz Ala Cubana Casserole in a Hash Brown Potato Crust
Arroz Ala Cubana Casserole is the very first dish I tried to cook at home. I just don't have photos of it but I am happy I got almost the same taste of the one we ate during this vegan cooking demo in Quezon City. Arroz Ala Cubana has 13 ingredients but I find this one very easy to follow.

Plant-based ingredient highlighted:
Nutritional yeast or nooch came from a single-celled organism called "Saccharomyces Cerevisiae", which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, dried with heat to "kill" it. It doesn't froth or grow like the baking yeast that's why it has no leavening ability. Yeasts are members of fungi family including mushrooms. It actually do not taste like yeast. It comes in both powdered and flakered forms. It tastes nutty, cheesy and delightfully creamy. Vegans use nooch as cheese flavoring substitute for gravies, sauces, macaroni and cheese dishes. It is also an excellent source of protein containing essential amino acids and full of vitamins like B-complex. Vegan's Vim online store sells very affordable nutritional yeast. Obviously, nooch is the better option for dairy butter.

4. Boston Baked Beans with Homemade Vege Ham 
Aside from the white beans, this dish needs vegetarian ham (7 ingredients). This one is my most favorite of all the food we ate during this cooking class. This is the plant-based version of pork and beans. The taste and everything reminds me that of the original minus the feeling of eating a dead pig.

Plant-based ingredient highlighted: Wheat gluten is another meat-alternative choice great for making tapa, tocino and steak the plant-based way. Gluten from wheat flour looks like a big, spongy lump which needs to be pre-cooked before using in any recipe. Wheat gluten replaces the ham in this dish.

Do not believe the hype of buying only gluten-free food which is the one that's always mentioned on every social media food promotion. As long as you have no allergy to gluten, you can eat all food with it.  I think there's only 1 out of 10 people who is allergic to gluten. How to know if you are that person? White breads do have gluten so if you develop allergy then this is not for you but if not, no need to worry!

5. Rigatoni and Meatless Bolognese with Spinach and Carrot Sausages
The meatless bolognese (12 ingredients) and spinach & carrot sausage (9 ingredients) for me have the most easy-to-find ingredients where I live. I have cooked this once as well but I think I need to do it one more time. This is also one of my favorite dish that was demonstrated to us during this live vegan and vegetarian cooking demo in QC.

There was no special plant-based ingredient here but we were taught one great replacement for eggs as binders when making meatless meatballs, chorizo, patties etc. Bread crumbs specially the Panko brand or any Japanese bread crumbs. If you find yourself no time to get bread crumbs, finely crumbed Skyflakes crackers  will do.

6. Mock "Fish" Relleno with Fresh Mango Salsa
The "fish" relleno have 13 ingredients, "fish" relleno batter have 4 ingredients and fresh mango salsa have 8 ingredients. Haven't tried this one because I am overwhelmed with the many ingredients but really looking forward to do it at home. Instructions are easy despite the long list of ingredients. 

Firm tofu is the replacement of fish rellano in this dish. So yes, once can enjoy relleno without sacrificing a life of another creature swimming freely in the ocean.  

7.  All Quinoa and Lentil Meatloaf with Homestyle Barbecue Sauce
Quinoa lentil meatloaf (12 ingredients) is pretty easy to make actually. The homestyle barbecue sauce is also a walk in the park. Wish I can tell how. 

Plant-based ingredient featured:
Quinoa is the star in this plant-based meatloaf. It's a whole grain with a nutty taste. It can be a side dish or a base of the main course. Quinoa has complete protein providing all 9 essential amino acids. Keep in mind though that it easily expands in water. If you put way too many in your broth, don't be surprised if it's gone when you check it later. Quinoa is the replacement for meatloaf here.

8. Eggless and dairy-free date, raisin, walnut, oatmeal applesauce cupcake
Just ordered oven few days ago. I had to make way first to a good quality blender and juicer. Hopefully, before August ends I will be able to do this myself in the comforts of my home. Basically, the ingredients are broken two two: dry and wet. This vegan cupcake has 9 dry ingredients and 6 wet ingredients. 


At the end of the session, we were given a certificate of attendance for joining  Basic Course on Vegan and Vegetarian Cooking. We also ate all the dishes cooked during this session. It's like I literally got my payment back because I got to eat all of the dishes. I even brought some at home because they cook lots of it. The Vegetarian Kitchen regularly hosts basic cooking class for vegan and vegetarian food. 

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