‘Puso ng saging’ burger, other delicious vegetarian versions of all-time favorites
It was in one of our meetings for my upcoming cookbook that I learned of Dolly Dy Zulueta’s newly released “Pinoy Vegetarian Cookbook.”
Dolly said that it is common practice for many “Chinoy” families to go vegetarian on certain days of the month as a panata or an act of penance for something they are asking for.
“It’s a cultural thing,” she said. This is the reason there are a lot of restaurants in Chinatown that offer vegetarian fare.
Her late mother, Tiu Su Ha, was the first in her family to go vegetarian on certain days of the month.
“She had arthritis, which progressed to osteoporosis, and she was asking for good health and healing,” she said.
When her mother became bedridden, her eldest sister, Susana Dy, took over the vegetarian panata.
This was how Dolly became exposed to vegetarian food.
But it was after she interviewed a cardiologist who enlightened her on how regular consumption of fatty and cholesterol-rich food would accumulate fatty deposits in our arterial walls, that Dolly’s eating habits took a sharp turn.
“When I left my interviewee’s clinic that day, I never looked back,” she said. “I eliminated red meat from my diet and stuck to fish, seafood, vegetables and fruits.
“I would still eat red meat sometimes, but I take only very small portions. At home, I cook only fish, seafood and vegetables.”
The shift prompted Dolly to create vegetarian renditions of all-time favorites.
She also saw the need for an everyday cookbook focusing on practical vegetarian recipes.
“My book,” she said, “is not the ultimate guide to vegetarianism in the country, but I believe it is a good start.”
Dolly was editor in chief of Flavors Magazine for 14 years. She has turned freelance and runs her own food and travel website/blog (www.flavorsoflife.com.ph) and has a weekly food column in the Daily Tribune called World of Flavors. She also pens food and restaurant stories for various food magazines.
She shared two of her best recipes from her book: Puso ng Saging Burger and Tofu Spaghetti.
She likes these two in particular because they’re delicious and one couldn’t tell the recipes are vegetarian.
Puso ng Saging Burger
3 c puso ng saging, shredded
6 tbsp flour
½ c minced onion
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Knorr Seasoning
1-½ tbsp cornstarch
Lettuce leaves (iceberg or curly)
Cheddar cheese slices
Boil puso ng saging in a pot of water until tender. Let cool. Squeeze out water and chop finely.
In a bowl, combine chopped puso ng saging, flour, minced onion, eggs, salt, sugar, ground pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Knorr Seasoning and cornstarch. Mix well.
Form into patties and fry in a little oil until desired doneness is achieved.
To assemble, slice burger buns in half and toast. On the bottom half, spread some mayonnaise and line with lettuce and slices of cheese and tomato. Top with puso ng saging burger patty, spread catsup on top and cover with the upper half of the burger bun.
500 g spaghetti
2 pc big tofu
¾ c button mushrooms
5 pc veggie sausages, sliced thinly (available in vegetarian grocery stores in Chinatown, Bodhi in Banawe and some supermarkets)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1½ packs tomato sauce (200 g each)
2½ tbsp sugar
ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
4 c water
Chopped parsley (optional)
Cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente. Remove and set aside.
Mash tofu into very fine texture.
Heat oil. Stir-fry mashed tofu until dry and light brown in color. Add button mushrooms and sliced veggie sausages. Stir.
Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, pepper and salt. Stir thoroughly and add water. Let boil and adjust seasoning to taste.
Arrange cooked spaghetti on platter or individual plates. Ladle sauce over it. Top with grated cheese and sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.
“Pinoy Vegetarian Cookbook” is available at National Book Store.