Celine Steen is a vegan dynamo. Not only is she a prolific cookbook author and recipe developer, but she’s also styled and shot the photos for some of your favorite vegan cookbooks, including my own. I can’t believe it’s already been four years since we exchanged hundreds of emails about culinary triumphs such as Taco Lasagna, but somehow she’s gone on without me.

smoky kale

Also in this book: Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle

Her new book Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes with a Kick is filled with recipes that deliver on the title’s promise. This one is for all the folks who think vegan food is one-note, bland, and no fun. This one’s for the vegans who long for those smokey, spicy, sweet, sour flavors you can only get when you do it yourself.

I decided to share this recipe in particular because Thai food offers all of those bold flavors – spice, sweet, citrus, herb – but typically draws its salty umami from fish sauce. Celine solves this problem with a fish-free sauce using Mushroom Dashi, shiitake powder and tamari. You’re going to end up using it on everything.

Mushroom Dashi Recipe (Yield:1 ½ cups mushroom dashi, 6 oz rehydrated mushrooms)

  • 1 oz organic dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups cold or room-temperature filtered water

Lightly brush your mushroom caps clean with a pastry brush or mushroom-cleaning brush. Place in a large bowl or a glass measuring cup (such as Pyrex), and cover with filtered water until fully submerged. Stir gently to make sure all mushrooms will be hydrated. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, line a fine-mesh sieve with a paper towel to catch impurities. Place the sieve on top of a bowl or glass measuring cup. Gently squeeze the mushrooms over the dashi container to get extra liquid out.

vegan chili

Also in this book: Citrusy Pepper Chili

Alternatively, the quick method is to use warm water and soak the mushrooms for 20 minutes until they are soft without being mushy. For best results, choose the overnight version. The longer the soak, the more flavorful the dashi.

Store the dashi in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store the rehydrated mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Fish-Free Sauce Recipe (Yield: ¾ cup sauce)

  • 1 ½ cups (355 ml) Mushroom Dashi (see above) or water
  • 2 tsp (3 g) dried shiitake powder
  • 2 tsp (12 g) smoked sea salt
  • 4 tsp (20 ml) reduced-sodium tamari
  • ½ roasted nori sheet

Place the dashi, shiitake powder, salt, tamari and nori in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook until reduced to about half the original amount, about 45 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed. Strain the nori and store the cooled fish-free sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Stir or shake before use, depending on the container used.

Reprinted from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes with a Kick By Celine Steen, published by Page Street Publishing. Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking, I might earn a commission.

Quick and Easy Pad Thai

By BakeandDestroy Published: July 16, 2017

  • Yield: 3-4 Servings

OK, Celine admits that some of the elements of this dish do take some time to make, but she thinks once you've made them and tried them, you'll always have some on hand. Thereby making this a quick dinner you can throw together.



  1. Garnishes: Serundeng, lime wedges, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced scallions, reduced-sodium tamari
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the dashi with the sugar to dissolve the crystals. Add the fish-free sauce, lime juice, vinegar, tamarind, garlic, ginger and chile. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the tempeh and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  4. Adjust the heat as needed and stir frequently. Add the cabbage and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer for a few minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly and the cabbage is just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and stir to coat the noodles well.
  5. Serve with garnishes. Leftovers are even better, so the dish can be made ahead of time and reheated gently on the stove.

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