601 King West, at Portland, 416-504-7867, susur.com.
"Vegetarian doesn't have to be boring," claims Canada's top chef, Susur Lee. "Don't be afraid to experiment with new spices and flavours."
No argument there! But the recipe he submits to NOW when we ask for a simple vegan grill raises a few eyebrows. Ketchup? Corn syrup? And WTF is jerk spice mix?
"They sell it at the House of Spice in Kensington Market," says the celebrated cook, whose signature Singapore slaw contains 19 exotic ingredients including salted apricot paste and flower petals. "It comes in a bag."
Mr. Lee also has strict serving instructions.
"You can do the tempeh in a burger, but I like it better as a satay with stir-fried in-season vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato and cherry tomatoes. Some grilled pita and you're laughing."
1 250-gram block of unflavoured tempeh
1 tbsp Jamaican jerk spice mix
4 tbsps corn syrup
4 tbsps ketchup
2 tbsps Japanese soy sauce
Whisk the jerk spice, corn syrup, soy sauce and ketchup together. Slice the tempeh into 1-centimetre strips and marinate them in the mixture for 1 to 2 hours. Grill on barbecue over low heat. Continue glazing with sauce until caramelized. Serve with additional sauce if desired.
Dinner Monday to Saturday 5:30 to 11:30 pm, bar till close. Closed Sunday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor.
One Love Vegetarian
854 Bathurst, at London, 416-535-5683, oneloveveg.com.
When Ikeila Wright first started selling grilled island-style corn on the cob at Harbourfront 15 years ago, who could have guessed it was the start of a culinary journey? Now the owner of One Love Vegetarian - the most accomplished Caribbean and/or vegan kitchen in town - Wright shares the secret of one of summer's most essential noshes.
"A propane grill is fine, but the best-tasting grilled anything is done over real-deal charcoal," she cautions. "Let the coals come to a nice ember to the point where they're not flaming. You don't want your corn to burn. If you're using propane, make sure the grill gets nice and hot. And make sure to have lots of napkins on hand!"
6 ears of fresh corn ("Ontario produces some of the best")
3 limes, halved
3 whole garlic cloves
1 tsp hot chili flakes
1/4 cup (or more!) soft butter or vegan margarine ("Earth Balance works great")
1 tbsp mild Mexican chili powder
1 inch ginger root, finely grated
sea salt, to taste
For maximum freshness, remove the husk and silk from the corn at the last minute and rub the corn with a garlic clove. Squeeze the grated ginger through a cheesecloth so the ginger juice drips onto the corn. If you don't have cheesecloth, improvise with a paper towel.
Grill the cobs, turning frequently until they're blushing with a beautiful light brown colour. They can be grilled a little darker, which caramelizes the sugar in the corn even more. This should take five to seven minutes.
Using tongs, remove the corn from the grill and place on a cutting board. Holding the end of the cob with a doubled paper towel, brush on butter or vegan margarine generously. Squeeze the juice of half a lime onto each cob and then sprinkle with the chili powder and hot chili flakes. Use the chilis sparingly, as they pack quite a bit of heat. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
For those who prefer their corn off the cob, shave the corn from the cob into a bowl once it's grilled. Add extra lime juice and a little more seasoning. Makes a sensational salsa for tacos or a topping for One Love's legendary spicy vegan pumpkin soup.
Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 9 pm, Saturday 11 am to 6 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, no washrooms.