Vietnamese Inspired Spicy Vegetables

Vietnamese Inspired Spicy Vegetables

There was no time to waste. Having learnt to cook fragrant vegan Vietnamese cuisine in Hoi An, I was eager to recreate the flavors in my Korean apartment. Studying the scrappy piece of paper with notes scrawled back and front, I was able to decipher my favourite recipe and blow my friends away with this dish designed to tempt the most committed carnivore.

Spicy Vegetables {Vegan}

For some of these ingredients you’ll have to look in the Asian section of your supermarket or failing that, visit your local Asian market where you’ll probably find loads of other treasures too.

Prep Time: 25 mins    Total: 50 mins   Serves: 2 or 4 side dishes


8-10 large black mushrooms (re-hydrated from dry)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (I like Shiitake)
2 cups yellow tofu (re-hydrated from dry)
1 sweet capsicum/ bell pepper, sliced
4 cubes of garlic, finely diced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons vegan soy sauce
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 vegetable stock cube
a pinch of black pepper
a tablespoon of oil for frying
1/2 – 1 cup fresh cilantro or parsley


1. Re-hydrate the black mushrooms and yellow tofu (whole) in warm water for 25-45 mins. Until they are entirely soft when you squeeze them between your fingers. If you have fresh black mushrooms that’s even better.

2. Crush the garlic and ginger with a mortar and pestle.

3. Cut the black mushrooms and the fresh mushrooms in half; slice the sweet capsicum/bell peppers into stripes and slice the yellow tofu strips into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

4. Heat a tablespoon of  oil in a medium hot frying pan or wok. Once hot, add the ginger and garlic and fry till fragrant, roughly 1 minute. Add the yellow tofu, both types of mushrooms and capsicum/bell pepper to the frying pan for 2-3 minutes longer.

5. Mix in the curry powder, soy sauce, vegetable stock and black pepper. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and toss with the cilantro or parsley. Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Beware! I wasn’t kidding when I said this is a spicy dish. Because the capsicum and cilantro are lush and fresh they will help cool your mouth in an otherwise super spicy meal. Be advised you may need a glass of water.

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Mushroom and Tofu Patties

Mushroom and Tofu Patties

Premonitions about Vietnamese food had led me to believe that anything and everything that had a heartbeat would be listed on the menu. I didn’t believe the cuisine of Vietnam could be as succulent as its history.  But after a week spent in the city of Hoi An I was proved quite wrong.

Vietnamese food, I discovered relies heavily on vegetables and flavours more than any other country I can think of.  Coriander and cumin, lemongrass and lime, soy sauce and Saigon cinnamon, the range of flavours is quite stifling, but completely intoxicating.

Below is a simple and easy to make recipe of some Vietnamese Vegan patties.

Mushroom & Tofu Patties 3


1 large spring onion
1 cup of shitake mushrooms (avoid using bell mushrooms)
1 tbsp of vegetable stock (half a veggie stock cube, finely diced is OK)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
500 gm of tofu
5 tbsp flour
Oil for glazing the patties
Optional: Sweet chili sauce for dipping/Vegan barbecue sauce


Preheat your oven on 200ºc.

To start, finely chop the mushrooms and spring onion together.  This can take some time  but it is imperative that it is diced finely. Place in a large bowl.

Next, squeeze as much of the water out of the tofu as possible. Add to the mixing bowl  veggie stock, salt and pepper, flour and crumble in the tofu.  Mix thoroughly.  Check to see if there are any clumps of tofu that haven’t been mixed, and mash with a fork.

Now the fun part!

Get yourself a lid from a jar the thicker the better. Jam jars are too small and thin. You want something with the circumference and size of a patty. I used one from a Marmite pot, but peanut butter lids are just as good.

Coat the inside of the lid with oil and carefully spoon in the mixture.  Try and pack in as much as you can.  The more compact the better the mixture will hold when cooked.

When you have finished pop the little discus upside-down on a greased baking tray.  Alternatively you can fry them, but baking will require less oil. Use all the mixture.  You should be able to make about six patties.

Finally put the patties into the oven for about thirty-forty minutes.

Once finished you can eat them hot or let the cool and plonk them in a salad.

Easy Peasy Vietnameasy!

Mushroom & Tofu Patties

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VU in Vietnam Part 2

VU in Vietnam Part 2

Traveling around Vietnam is all very well, but what’s a vegan to eat? Restaurants catering to tourists usually offer a separate section in their menu of exclusively vegetarian options, and even at local eateries there will be several choices for the most selective veg*n.

Bok Choi and Ginger Mushrooms

Blanched bok choi and brown button mushrooms in a garlic sauce

The Golden Luck restaurant in Hanoi was heaving with locals and tourists when we came upon it just after 2pm, whereas the nearby Indian restaurant and adjacent cafes were rather deserted. We took this as a good sign. Upon our entrance we were shuffled towards the only available seats at the back of the restaurant sharing a long table with a lovely Korean family. Even though we were only mildly hungry, we ordered three vegan meals suffering from the all too common, ‘eyes are hungrier than stomach’ syndrome.

Vietnaese Vegan Spring Rolls

Deep fried rice paper spring rolls with tofu and vegetables 

Vietnamese Aubergine

Braised aubergine with peanuts and lashings of cilantro

The next day in the town of Hoi An, we found ourselves at Karma Waters, one of the two restaurants specializing in vegan cuisine. Here they utilized organic produce and local herbs. The dishes themselves were relatively simple to create yet the flavours were surprisingly complex, infused with zesty fresh greens. The hardest part was selecting only a few dishes from the menu of dozens to cook in the afternoon’s cooking class; spicy vegetables, tofu and mushroom patties, and sautéed beef strips.

Karma Waters Hoi An

Spicy Vegetables {Vegan}

Spicy vegetables: Soy strips with mushrooms stir fried in ginger, garlic and mushroom sauce with a blanket of cilantro

Mushroom and Tofu Patties {Vegan}

Mushroom and tofu patties

Ginger and Cilantro Mushroom Stir Fry {Vegan}

Sautéed ‘beef’ strip salad with peanuts and mint

The restaurant is so cool that they refill your bottles with clean water for a nominal charge to save on plastic bottles. By the time we left Karma Waters it was late but still warm… and time for a second dinner and poker with friends.

Karma Waters Hoi An


Baked falafel with mayonnaise (mayo is not vegan)

Vietnamese BreakfastVietnamese Breakfast

Outdoor breakfasts at our hotel were accompanied by grazing cows and docile dogs, riverside views and the sounds of birds. Every morning we were treated to a buffet of fresh fruits, stir fired vegetables and warm baguette. Not bad at all.

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VU in Vietnam Part 1

VU and David HoltVU in Vietnam Part 1

Vietnam has everything! Warm weather, captivating scenery, enchanting people and exquisite food.  It had been over a year since my last vacation, so when my girl-friend Esther Dalseno McCaustlin told me of her wedding in Vietnam I was overjoyed to visit a country whose borders I’d kissed but never crossed.

Vietnam Pagoda

Vietnamese food is notorious for its garlic, ginger and cilantro; it’s plethora of lemongrass and generous use of garnishes. Excited to see these herbs en masse, we rented  a motorbike and headed 10 minutes from the centre of Hoi An to a local herb garden.

Vietnam Herb Garden 2

Vietnam Herb Garden 3

Vietnam Herb Garden 4Vietnam Market 6

The gardens are owned and operated by local people in an unusually large and rectangular plot of land, surrounded by French inspired dwellings. Once we’d had our fill of the conventional and exotic herbs we evaded the blistering sun by slinking into a nearby hut. There we drank rich, chocolaty coffee(s) and enjoyed the local flora and fauna.
Vegan Urbanite Veitnam

David Holt and Kitten

As was apparent from our first day in Vietnam, the people mainly ignore street animals, of which there are many. Although I often saw children playing with puppies and kittens, stray dogs wandered the streets wholly unabashed and at night the bats rule the sky and the rats the streets.

I had heard stories of how Vietnamese people treated dogs (both wild and domestic), but  was fortunate enough not to witness any disturbing events myself. I did however, visit the local markets which are often filled with pleasure and pain.

In the farmer’s markets I relish puzzling my senses with new smells, sights and tastes. Mouth slightly ajar I point to everything new and edible, and taste as much as I am capable. But with the excitement of the new comes the heartbreak of the frequent; animals being sold for meat.

I regularly pause and connect with the live animals, staring long enough for my presence to express my displeasure. It can be difficult to restrain my emotions, but I return to every market in every country (and sometimes town) with enthusiasm and anticipation. Always aware that even though I may not wish to see suffering, it will continue to exist. This only cements my resolve to live by my ethics.

Vietnam Market 7

Vietnam Market 4Vietnam Market 3IMG_2453IMG_2458 Vietnam Market 5 Vietnam MarketVietnam Market 2

Thanks to Sean de Waal for the extra gruesome pictures.

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Sweet Dessert Balls

Sweet Dessert Balls

 For Christmas I made a batch of these sweet, slightly spiced dessert balls for each of my girlfriends. I dressed a mason jar with a red ribbon and a handwritten label, and filled it with these delicious balls for a lovely homemade gift. I adapted this recipe from Ella Leche over at lifeologia.

Sweet Dessert Balls

{raw, vegan, gluten-free recipe}


1 cup ground raw almonds
3/4 cup ground almond meal
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
3/4 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup raisins
3- 4 tsp Hemp Hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons water

Optional: 1/2 cup desiccated coconut to coat the balls


Put almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the prunes, pulse a few times. Add the raisins, pulse a little more, then the remaining ingredients (except the water and coconut) and blend until the nuts and fruit are combined evenly.

To get a good consistency you may need to scrap down the sides of the blender or mix manually and pulse again. The stickiness of the raisins and prunes can be a bit thick for some blenders. Continue until the mixture is moist and sticky. You should be able to form balls of the mixture with your hands. If it’s too crumbly add a teaspoon of water at a time. Repeat if necessary. You shouldn’t need more than 3-4 teaspoons.

Once it sticks together, take a spoonful of mixture at a time and shape into bite-sized balls by rolling it between the palms of your hands. Fill a small dish with the coconut. Roll the sticky balls in the coconut until they’re coated.

These balls are best served cold. Wrap the balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Great Gift Idea - Sweet Dessert Balls {Vegan, Raw, Gluten-free}

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Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Moist Vegan Chocolate Cake

 The perfect chocolate cupcake, or muffin if your feeling tenacious. You can dress it up with frosting and sprinkles or even go nuts (literally) with gooey center. From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World ~ Here’s how to do it.


1 cup non-dairy milk (I use soy)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C. Line a muffin pan with cute cupcake liners.

2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and leave to curdle for a few minutes.Add the sugar, oil and vanilla extract, and other extract if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat till foamy.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat till no large lumps remain.

4. Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes to clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

There are many ways to dress up your chocolate cupcake. With sprinkled sugar, grated chocolate or whipped cream, frosting or ice-cream. Yum, getting hungry.

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Top 12 Recipes of 2012

We’re rounding out another year and as Christmas fast approaches, all I’m thinking about is presents and food (and morning whiskey-coffees if I’m honest). There’s no time to learn new recipes so let’s stick with our favourites from the year.

It’s the top 12 recipes of 2012

White Bean and Basil Humms with Roasted Vegetables

White Bean & Basil Hummus

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Chickpea Burger Patty with Tahini Sauce

Chickpea Burger Patty with Tahini Sauce

Top Tofu Marinade

Top Tofu Marinade

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Banana Bread

home-made tomato soup

Vegan Strawberry Ice-Cream

Easy Strawberry Ice-Cream

Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Mousse Icing

Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Mousse Icing

Vegan Quiche with Mushroom and Spinach

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Salt and Vinegar Toasted Chickpeas

Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas

Vegan Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Pie

Wholesome Lasanga
Cheesy Lasagna

5 Day Juice Fast {with loads of recipes for delicious juice}

5 Day Juice Fast {with loads of recipes for delicious juice}

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Shopping {Vegan} in Busan – Alcohol

It’s the festive season and for many of us that means parties and alcohol. So to make it easier to live compassionately whilst enjoying yourself, I’ve collecting some tid-bits on vegan alcohol.

Huh? Aren’t all alcohols vegan?

It’s surprising right? Many are vegan but some alcohols are processed  through a substances called a ‘fining agent’.  This process is used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, unwanted flavors and colorings, and other organic particles. Popular animal-derived fining agents used in the production of alcohol include blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).

This is not only gross but unnecessary as there are organic, cruelty-free alternatives available such as, carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques are all suitable alternatives.

Where can I buy vegan alcohol?

Many international and European brands label their wines as being vegetarian or vegan. However, the company may label a wine as being ‘vegetarian’ because it doesn’t contain animal parts even if animal secretions have been used in the process of making the wine.

My suggestion is to shop as Homeplus (A subsidiary of UK’s TESCO) and visit this detailed website to asses if the wine is vegan or not, they also list spirits and beer. I’ve compiled some of the most popular spirits found Korea in a list below.

Happy drinking!


Vegetarian Vegan
Beefeater Gin
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Gilbey’s Gin Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Gordon’s Dry Gin
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Gordon’s Sloe Gin
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Juniper Green: Organic London Dry Gin
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Tanqueray Gin
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Bombay Sapphire Gin Yes its suitable Yes its suitable


Vegetarian Vegan
No its not suitable No its not suitable
Bowmore – Islay Scotch Whiskey
No its not suitable No its not suitable
Chivas Regal Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Famous Grouse (Added 2011)
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Glenmorangie Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Glen Moray Classic
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Glen Moray 12 Year Old
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Glen Moray 16 Year Old
No its not suitable No its not suitable
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Johnnie Walker Gold Label
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Johnnie Walker Green Label
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Johnnie Walker Red Label
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Jameson’s Irish Whisky
 Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
J&B Rare Whisky Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Jack Daniel’s Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Jim Beam Bourbon
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Southern Comfort Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Wild Turkey (honey versions non vegan) Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
100 Pipers  Yes its suitable Yes its suitable


Vegetarian Vegan
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Grey Goose Vodka Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Red Square Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Smirnoff Black Vodka
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Smirnoff Blue Vodka

Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Smirnoff Mule
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Smirnoff Red Vodka

Yes its suitable Yes its suitable


Vegetarian Vegan
Amarula Cream Liqueur                           
Yes its suitable No its not suitable
Archers Schnapps                          
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
Yes its suitable No its not suitable
Drambuie liqueur
Yes its suitable No its not suitable
Cointreau Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Disaronno Amaretto
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Kahlua (regular only) Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Yes its suitable Yes its suitable
Jagermeister Yes its suitable Yes its suitable


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Easy {Vegan} Quiche From Scratch

When you think of a quiche you probably imagine a dozen eggs and a ton of cholesterol. Think again. This vegan take on a classic is healthy, simple and versatile. It still contains all the vegetables you remember but in place of eggs I use blended tofu, lemon juice and peanut butter (who knew?). Mix it up by including vegan meat or vegan cheese and an array of vegetables to suit your palate.

As there is no option to buy pre-made pie dough in my city, so I adapted a dough recipe from an older samosa recipe and it turned out really delicious. It holds up well as one large quiche or can be cooked as several single servings baked in ramekins.

My favourite quiche has always been the simple mushroom, spinach and cheese. So that’s what I’ll share with you today. Serves 6 – 8.

 Here’s what it looks like before it goes in the oven. 

Prep Time: 35 minutes    Cook Time: 50 minutes


For the base

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 Tbsp of water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbsp vegan butter

For the filling

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided in 2 (optional, you may substitute water in place of oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced. (I use shiitake)
  • 1 lb. / 500 grams firm silken tofu, drained (although any tofu will work well enough)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp tahini or peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp rice / apple vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (they must be raw and not salted)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F / 180˚C. Soak the raw cashews in a bowl of clean water. Set aside. Lightly grease a 30cm wide dish (I use a spring-loaded cake pan) or several smaller dishes if your making many baby quiches. Set aside.

2. For the dough. Sieve flour into a bowl, add salt and butter. Using your fingers, combine the butter and flour together until the mixture looks a bit like bread crumbs and takes on a yellow colour. It will form clumps when squeezed together. Very slowly add the water 1 Tbsp at a time. Kneed the dough with your palms and continue adding water until the dough holds its shape and there are no loose dry pieces. You will usually use 4 Tbsp of water but never more than 6 Tbsp. If the dough becomes too wet add small amounts of flour. Wrap in plastic wrap or pop into a ziplock bag and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3. For the filling. In a large skillet over a medium heat, cook the diced onion in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil (or to reduce the fat content use 4 Tbsp water) . Stirring occasionally until the onions are lightly caramelized, about 6-8 minutes. Add the remaining olive oil (or water), garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic smells fragrant, a further 4-5 minutes. Add thoroughly washed spinach and sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly until the spinach is wiltered and the mushrooms are brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Set aside.

4. Back to the dough. Remove the dough from the fridge. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into the desired shape, one large oval or several smaller ones. The dough ought to be fairly thin but thick enough to hold together when lifted for transport. Move to the greased pan (I like spring loaded cake pans). It should cover the base of the pan plus 1-2 inches so you fold over the excess dough to create a crust.

5. Back to the filling. Drain the cashews and blend in a food processor with the tofu, lemon juice, tahini / peanut butter, vinegar, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt until smooth. In the pan you used to cook the spinach, add the tofu mixture and stir until ingredients are evenly mixed. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave for 10-15 minutes before serving hot or put in the refrigerator and serve cold.

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Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Pie

Vegan Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Brownie adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World


For the chocolate brownie 

4 ounces / 115 grams  of dark vegan chocolate, melted

1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin ( 1 regular can equals 2 cups)

3/4 cup raw sugar

1/5 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

15 ml espresso shot (optional but adds a great kick)

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

1 tablespoon tapioca flour or arrowroot or corn starch

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the pumpkin pie 

1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin (the remaining 1/2 can used above)

2 tablespoons tapioca flour or arrowroot or cornstarch

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy)

1/3 cup raw sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

pinch ground allspice

dark vegan chocolate mousse or fruit to serve


Preheat oven to 350˚F / 180˚C . Grease a 9 inch springform cake pan, or a 9 inch loaf pan lined with grease paper to prevent the sides from sticking.

To make the brownie

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler or in the microwave.

In a large mixing bowl mix the canned pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and espresso. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, tapioca (or arrowroot or cornstarch), baking soda and salt and stir to combine.  Then mix in the melted chocolate and combine thoroughly. These are not like cupcakes, you cannot over mix them so mix away.

Use a spatula to spread the brownie mixture into the base of the baking pan. You want to ensure the brownie mixture evenly covers the base of the pan and rises at the edge to form a crust.

To make the pumpkin layer:

Simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture over the brownie base, leaving a little room at the edges if you can. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm (it still has to cool so a little jiggling is fine).

Let it stand at least 20 minutes placing in the fridge (on a wooden board) to let it set for at least an hour and a half, overnight is better. Once set, decorate with chocolate mousse or fruit and serve.

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