Do you ever wish you had a extra pair of hands in the kitchen? How often do you wonder what you could do with all that time you spend watching and stirring that pot on the stove top? Or just wish dinner could be a push of a button and then ding when it is done (but not taste like a microwaved mess)? Well – there is an answer to all these questions. The answer is an electric pressure cooker that is called “Instant Pot”.
I first learned of the marvels of an Instant Pot from listening to youtube video of Chef AJ, a vegan pastry chef turned whole plant based star. Chef AJ travels around the United States introducing people to the delicious flavours of whole plant-based nutrition – one dish at a time. She often travels with two Instant Pots when on the road so she can not only feed herself easily from the comfort of her hotel room but also demonstrate recipes to the crowds her presentations attract. Her enthusiasm and practicality got me curious enough to check out the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot comes in several models and every models offers multiple features , turning this pressure cooker into a machine that steams, sautes, cooks rice and serves as a crock pot. There is a manual button to set the desired time as well as programmable times for soups, chilis, cooking beans, etc. The stainless steel insert makes it easy to remove and place beside as you pour and measure ingredients or cut up vegetables or potatoes. It also stores conveniently in the refrigerator after the meal is over. Clean up is very easy and a brief soaking avoids the chore of scrubbing.
What can you make in an Instant Pot? I have made mashed potatoes, cheese (non-dairy) sauce, Indian dhals and masalas, soup, steamed vegetables, curries – the end is only limited by your imagination. There are a number of cook books dedicated to Instant Pot cooking oil-free, whole plant-based recipes. Here is one you may want to check out: “Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking” by Derek and Hannah Howlett, 2016.
Here is a recipe that you make in the kitchen or very easily if you are on a road trip – just need a can opener and a paring knife!
Asian Corn Soup
(Makes 2500ml or 10 cups) (per cup: 65 mg of salt and .4 gram of fat)
- 900 ml of no salt vegetable broth (Campbells)
- 2 – 398 ml cans of no salt cream corn
- 2-398 ml cans of sliced straw mushrooms (rinse well- removes 40% salt)
- 1 cup of kernel corn (frozen or no salt can of corn)
- 6- green onions -diced from white bulb (remove root hairs) to end of green stem
- 1 package of white or brown shimmer mushrooms (cut off root and break apart)
- 1 package of enoki mushrooms (cut off root and then cut in three sections; break apart)
- 1/2 package of Mori-Nu Lite Tofu- cut in thin length-wise strips; cut in half again
- 1 tBsp of Naked Coconuts (this is a no soy sauce with the flavour of soy sauce but with half the salt of lite soy sauce versions – find in health food stores)
- 1/4 tsp of white ground pepper
- 2 tBsp of cornstarch to thicken
Directions: Combine all ingredients above as described, adding cornstarch last – add by sifting it in or mixing with a bit of water so does not clump together but thickens soup.
This takes less than 10 mins to prep. Put all ingredients in stainless steel pot insert and secure lid on Instant Pot – press Manual button and digital clock will read “30” – press the minus button to reduce time to 1 min. Close release valve (set to middle position on top of lid). The Instant Pot will then go “On” and the pressure will build – once it is built – it will cook for 1 min. and then go to “L ” and time it is on L will appear. Turn lid top release valve to the right or left to open and release steam – when done turn lid to open, remove lid and serve soup. You may wish to put it on crock pot mode during the meal to keep it warm.
Happy Chinese New Year!