Book Report: East Meets West + 2 Bonus Recipes

I am taking a break from cooking and developing recipes for my book and catching up on all of the new vegan publications. First up, East Meets Vegan by Sasha Gill. I couldn’t wait to dive right into this one. It’s filled with Asian inspired recipes, which is my most craved cuisine, but also the most challenging for me to recreate in my own kitchen. Until now.

Sasha Gill has written a vibrant, lively book with recipes from six Asian countries – India, China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. I like the variety, but even more I like the ease with which many of the recipes are prepared. I think it’s because Sasha set out to make alternative versions of her family recipes, using the same spices and flavors, which is how I come up with a lot my recipes. I can tell there is love and nostalgia built into this food. While there are still some spices and ingredients unfamiliar to me (e.g., urad dal, lemongrass, galangal, and tamarind paste), I am not as intimidated as I was once was to get into the kitchen and make things I usually only eat when I go out. (And some I have never eaten, ever!)

The first chapter is India, one of my favorite places on Earth, and the first recipe I spied was Sweet Potato and Onion Pakoras. These are always the first thing I order at a restaurant and so I got into the kitchen right away and made them! They are so easy and flavorful, and not only that, they are baked. I skipped the sweet potatoes and went with peas, because I am a rebel like that!

The rest of the recipes in this chapter, including curries, chutneys, dosas, naan, and samosas will keep me busy for a long time.

Thailand is another delicious food destination and the recipe for Pineapple Fried Rice is a home run. (Excerpted below!) I recognized every ingredient on the list and, and with the exception of the pineapple, I had everything on hand to make it! I am confident I can now move on to dishes like Mushroom Laab and Thai Green Curry.

The chapter on Singapore and Malaysia is filled with incredibly flavorful dishes. I love the Satay (excerpted below), the Char Kuey Teow (a stir fry noodle dish that has quickly become a favorite) and Coconut Kaya Custard which will be making an appearance at my next brunch party.

The China chapter is really fun and reminds me of all of my favorite dishes from growing up. It have to say this may be my favorite chapter in the book mostly because I recognize all of the food! Things like Mushroom and Chive Dumplings, Sweet and Sour Mushrooms (the sweet and sour sauce is easy to make, with familiar ingredients, and super delicious!), Egg Drop Soup (remade with tofu and mushrooms,) and Black Bean and Mushroom Stir-Fry.

The Japan chapter is probably the easiest cuisine for me and one I have some experience with. I love the recipes for Tofu Teriyaki and Baked Tempura as well as Onigiri, Okonomiyaki, Miso Caramel Eggplant, and Yaki Soba.

I highly recommend this book! The recipes are challenging and authentic. Check out these two I have excerpted here and go buy the book. It will get your culinary juices flowing!



There used to be a “satay man” who would cycle down our street in the heavy, languid hour just before sunset, with a tiny grill strapped on top of his back wheel. On those glorious days when we were far too lazy to cook, we would flag him down and order two dozen skewers. He would grill them on the spot, filling the air with the ethereal scent of caramelization and bubbling, savory peanut sauce. Satay sauce is – dare I say it – even better than eating peanut butter out of the jar.

Makes about 24 skewers
Prep time: 1 hour (plus marinating time)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Gluten Free: Use tamari in place of the soy sauce.

  • 3 cups (75 g) TVP chunks, prepared (page 25)


  • 1 inch (2.5 cm) ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (65 g) coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) light soy sauce

Satay sauce

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 large chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1¼ cups (310 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 cup (140 g) ground roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon crunchy peanut butter
  • Compressed rice (page 20), lime halves and cucumber slices, to serve

In a large bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Add the drained TVP chunks and mix well to coat. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1–4 hours – the longer, the better. Soak 24 wooden skewers in a bowl of cold water (this will keep them from burning on the hot grill pan or barbecue later).

Meanwhile, make the satay sauce. Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat and fry the shallot, lemongrass and garlic until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the spices and chili and continue to fry another 3 minutes. Next, stir in the sugar, tamarind and soy sauce and mix well before pouring in the coconut milk. Lower the heat and gently bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes, taking care not to let it boil as this can cause the coconut milk to split and become oily. Stir in the peanuts and peanut butter and keep cooking over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. I usually go for about 4 minutes for a runny but firm sauce – perfect for satay!

Heat a barbecue or grill pan to high heat. Use a skewer to pierce a TVP chunk and then keep threading them along the skewer to form “kebabs” until all the chunks have run out – I usually aim for four or five chunks per skewer. Cook the satay skewers for 3–4 minutes on each side, using a pair of tongs to turn them, until golden brown all over and flecked with darker brown crispy bits.

Serve them right off the grill with compressed rice, lime halves, some cucumber slices for freshness, and the peanut sauce on the side.


Pineapple fried rice

This version of fried rice has the classic Thai sweet-and-salty twist. Pineapple might seem like an odd addition to fried rice, but it works. Much less controversial than pineapple on pizza. I love cutting the pineapples in half and, after scooping out their sunny flesh with a spoon, using the hollow shells as serving bowls. This is a genius way of making this uncomplicated dish look impressive.

Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Gluten Free: Use tamari in place of the soy sauce.

  • 2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • half 14-ounce (400 g) block extra-firm tofu, pressed (page 25) and crumbled
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon black salt or regular salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 inch (2.5 cm) ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (550 g) cooked rice, chilled – jasmine rice works best
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1½ cups (240 g) pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup (75 g) frozen peas cilantro leaves and roasted cashews, to garnish

Pour half the vegetable oil into a wok or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the tofu with the turmeric until it looks drier and firmer, like scrambled eggs. Add the black salt, then pour it out onto a plate.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Add the remaining oil and fry the garlic, scallions and ginger until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and continue to fry, breaking up any clumps with a spoon or spatula, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the soy sauce, sriracha and sesame oil, then add the pineapple, peas and the scrambled tofu. Make sure everything is well distributed, then let it cook for 2 minutes, to make sure the fried rice is heated right through.

Serve hot, garnished with cilantro leaves and cashews.

Recipes from East Meets Vegan: The Best of Asian Home Cooking, Plant-Based and Delicious © Sasha Gill, 2019. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

Leave a Reply