Interview with Astig Vegan – Vegan Filipino Recipes

RG Enriquez of Astig Vegan

RG Enriquez of Astig Vegan | Photo by Hannah Kaminsky

Pancit Palabok recipe by Astig Vegan | Photo and recipe recreation by Anna Pelzer

Pancit Palabok recipe by Astig Vegan | Photo and recipe recreation by Anna Pelzer

Welcome to this week’s interview with Astig Vegan. In addition to the interview, RG has shared her recipe for her Pancit Palabok (video at the end of this post).

“Astig” is a Tagalog word for tough, unique, or gutsy. RG Enriquez at astigvegan.com looks at vegan Filipino food as something “Astig”. Born and raised in Bacoor Cavite, Philippines, RG grew up helping her mother cook traditional Filipino food. She continued her passion for Filipino cooking when she and her family migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998. Few years later, she decided to go vegan.

RG is a certified plant-based professional through Rouxbe Cooking School. She has appeared in culinary festivals including “Savor Filipino” and “Taste of South Lake”, as well as universities and colleges such as Pitzer college and Cal-State East Bay, and television shows such as “Adobo Nation”.

Her discoveries and recipes could be found on her website, astigvegan.com and her cooking show, “Astig Vegan Cooking” on youtube.

 

What is the story of how you became vegan?

My journey to veganism started when I took a nutrition class in college. I had no inclination about going vegan. The class taught me what’s in my food, what goes in my body, and the impact and consequences of my consumption. From there, I started to watch what I eat, avoiding junk food, processed products, and heavy-meat dishes. My “clean eating” went on for a while. One day, I was chewing on lean meat when I started to feel bad about it. I felt bad about eating flesh. I found my repulsion strange; I didn’t know how to deal with it. After that incident, I avoided eating meat.

At that time, my mom was still cooking for the family and was making traditional meaty Filipino dishes. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I would sheepishly take out the meat from my plate and eat the rest. Little did I know, my parents knew what I was doing. My dad told me I should go vegetarian -so I did! My family fully respected my decision which made me regret not going vegetarian sooner.

Over time, I learned the facts about dairy and other kinds of animal consumption which convinced me to go vegan.

What was the first Filipino recipe that you veganized?

I honestly don’t remember. I didn’t mark my calendar when I went vegan and I didn’t take note of my first vegan dish. I wish I did though!

How has your family supported you with Astig Vegan and your vegan journey?

My family has not only been fully supportive of my vegan lifestyle and my Astig Vegan work, they have also adopted some of my vegan ways for themselves. They’ve been cooking vegan food, inviting me to vegan restaurants, and calling or texting me at the grocery store when they have questions about vegan ingredients. They still eat meat but I don’t push them to go vegan. As long as they don’t feel judged, they pick up my vegan habits.

How has your Youtube channel evolved?

I had big dreams for my YouTube channel from the start. My background was television and I didn’t understand YouTube very much. I thought I needed a team of professionals to produce the videos. Over time, I learned that content is the most important factor, whether you shoot using the most sophisticated video camera or your camera phone. People will watch your video if you have the answer to what they’re looking for. In my case, they’re looking for vegan Filipino recipes that work and can be replicated by any home cook. I’m still working on it but I’m glad and honored to see that people are recognizing my work.

What is your favorite quick-and-easy meal to make, and what do you like to make if you have nothing but time to play in the kitchen?

For quick-and-easy meals, I love making Bistek, Asian Greens soup with Kabocha squash, and Kangkong Adobo. If I have plenty of time in the kitchen, I love making Pan de sal, Lumpiang Sariwa, Tortang Alimasag, and Filipino Spaghetti.

 

What was your first catering event like?  Any pieces of advice for readers who want to get into catering?

Catering wasn’t originally part of my plans so I’m afraid I don’t recall my first catering gig. After doing several, I learned that catering could be very fun and rewarding. The preparation and cooking take hard work and patience but seeing and hearing people’s responses make everything worthwhile. I also like that every catering experience is different.

I advise for those looking to get into catering to do it because they love being on their feet, being physically active, and mentally creative. Unlike restaurant work, catering is usually a one-time production, which keep things fresh and exciting but also unpredictable.

What advice would you give to future bloggers or Youtubers who don’t know where to start?

I advise to forget about production value for now. Forget about fancy equipment, gimmicky concepts, and/or getting likes and subscribers. Focus on a topic or activity that you genuinely find enjoyable and be in love with the process of getting better at it. Then document what you’ve learned through a blog or YouTube channel.

If you’re focused on always getting better at your craft (and not subscriber count), you will get better at your craft. People will discover your expertise and appreciate your value and subscribe to your channel.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

More recipes! I hope to post more solid vegan recipes on the blog and on youtube.

Thank you to Astig Vegan for answering all our questions and sharing your recipe! For our readers who would like to learn more about Astig Vegan and her Vegan Filipino Recipes – Visit her website at astigvegan.com and follow her on social media on: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter |Youtube

 

Astig Vegan's Pancit Palabok

 

Pancit Palabok is a Filipino dish great for potlucks, parties, and gatherings. It has a variety of texture and flavor.
This is the revised, improved version from my first recipe.

 

Ingredients

For the noodles

  • 1 package of Excellent Bihon rice sticks noodles (Excellent is the name of the brand!) (16 oz) (see note below) or
  • 1 package of Super Q corn starch noodles (8oz or half of 16 oz) (see note below)

For the broth

  • 6 cups water
  • ¾ cup potato flour (not potato starch!)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast (see note below)
  • 2 (1/3 oz.) packet Mama Sita annatto powder whisked and dissolved in ¼ cup water (see note below)
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon indian black salt/kala namak (see note below)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • a pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove noodles from package and submerge noodles in a tray of warm water for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour all ingredients for broth in a medium size pot. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Turn off heat.
  3. Heat a medium size pan over medium heat. Pour oil and once hot enough, saute garlic, follow with onions. Saute until onions have turned soft and translucent.
  4. Add carrots, green beans, and tofu. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 3-5 minutes then turn off heat.
  5. Pour sautéed vegetables into the pot of broth. Mix well. Adjust sea salt and black salt to taste. It should taste more savory than preferred (to balance with the bland noodles).
  6. Speaking of noodles, boil a medium size pot with approximately 6-8 cups of water. Remove noodles from tray then transfer and blanch it in the boiling pot of water. Quickly drain noodles using a colander.

To assemble

  1. Place noodles on a serving plate. Pour about 4 ladle-full of sauce and mix to fully incorporate.
  2. Generously pour more sauce, this time only on the center of noodles.
  3. Sprinkle toppings if desired (citrus slices on the side).
  4. Serve warm.

For the main ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or enough to cover the base of the pan)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup julienne/cut into matchsticks carrots
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced diagonally green beans
  • 1½ cup fried tofu cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the toppings (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced roasted or fried garlic (see note below)
  • 3-5 kalamansi citrus, cut in half (or any citrus fruit of choice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegan chicharon

Notes

  For a low-salt diet, cut down sea salt and black salt to 1 teaspoon and add more garlic and onion powder.

  While preparing and cutting the vegetables, you could fry the tofu cubes on a pan over high heat.

  You could find Excellent rice sticks or Super Q noodles, Mama Sita annatto powder, and Snow Fungus at most Asian grocery stores or online (click brand names to take you to the amazon shopping link).

  You could find nutritional yeast at health food stores like Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods, or online.

  You could find indian black salt at most Indian grocery stores and health food stores like Whole foods, or online.

  When frying the garlic for palabok topping, simply fry in oil until browned then quickly turn off the heat.

  If you rather use potato starch, mix 4 tablespoons potato starch in ¼ cup vegetable broth before adding it to the pot.

 

Serves 6-8

 

 

Anna’s notes:

I made the sauce thinner by using potato starch, not flour. Also, what is shown in the photos above is only about 1/3 of the amount made.

 

Have any comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

 

 

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