Cook From the Blogs: BBQ Jackfruit and Coconut Rice

This year I made a commitment to myself to use my cookbooks more often. So far, I have found a lot of great recipes that have been hiding in between pages on my kitchen bookshelf for years. I have been taking pictures along the way and I hope to share more of these “cook from the books” adventures here on Veg:ology soon. While I’ve been hitting the books more often lately, the truth is that I get most of my recipes online or I make them up as I go. I’ve learned a lot of cool kitchen tricks and flavor combinations from the food blogger community.

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I recently had a major dinner success based on a recipe I read on Emily’s blog, Daily Garnish. You may recall that this isn’t the first time I’ve been inspired by Emily’s kitchen creations; I set up my glass jar ingredient storage after seeing this organization solution on Daily Garnish. Emily has a ton of delicious vegan recipes on her site, and recently she has been posting some quick and easy options, which are perfect for me. I have been working long days lately, followed by trips to the gym (when I can fit them in), which leaves me very little time for cooking on weeknights. This week I tried out the Rice and Peas on Emily’s blog, because it only requires 5 minutes of hands-on cooking time.

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I was extremely pleased to find that, especially if I stir a generous two tablespoons of coconut oil into the rice, it is a great match for my BBQ jackfruit. The spicy, sweet, islandish flavors made my late Thursday night dinner extraordinary.

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Check out both recipes here:

Veg:ology BBQ Jackfruit

Daily Garnish Rice and Peas

Enjoy!

Veggie Redux: Vegan BBQ with Cole Slaw

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If you have seen any of my veggie redux posts before, you know that I love a good vegetarian remake of a classic meaty dish. In the past, I have tackled bangers and mash, shrimp and grits, caldo verde, chicken pot pie, and more. Recently I started experimenting with jackfruit for a vegetarian remake of pulled pork barbecue. I had seen barbecue jackfruit on the menus at Ipanema and Strange Matter, so this isn’t a completely original idea, but the recipe is the result of several hours of testing spice combinations in my own kitchen.

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It all starts with young green jackfruit, a fruit that is indigenous to Southeast Asia. I found it canned at Tan-A, a large Asian supermarket in Richmond. This fruit works well because the texture is fibrous like pulled pork, and when unripe, it does not have a very strong taste. The young green jackfruit is a little tangy on its own but it is mainly a vehicle for the flavor of the barbecue sauce.

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It is important to use either jackfruit in brine (rinsed) or jackfruit in water. Do not use jackfruit in syrup or else it will be very sweet. As the jackfruit cooks, it releases some liquid into the sauce and begins to pull apart. After some seasoning, simmering, and coaxing with forks, the jackfruit begins to resemble pulled pork barbecue.

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When I had mastered my barbecue sauce recipe, I realized that I was on the way to not just a vegetarian barbecue sandwich, but a vegan one. I started working on a cole slaw recipe with that in mind. I grew up eating barbecue with creamy cole slaw, so I had to make sure I had some cool and crunchy cole slaw to balance my smoky and spicy barbecue jackfruit.

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I made the cole slaw creamy and vegan by making vegan cashew cream and then expanding upon that technique to create a dressing. It starts with ground cashews and water, then after the addition of oil, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt, pepper, and a touch of maple syrup, a sweet and tangy dressing comes together. It is so creamy that it’s hard to believe that it’s vegan.

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Since finalizing my recipes for both components, I have experimented even more with jackfruit, by putting the barbecue jackfruit on buns, over polenta, and piled on tostadas. Later this week, we’ll try it in enchiladas. Kyle has requested in in banh mi soon. If you add a little chili powder to the barbecue recipe and let it cook a bit longer over higher heat, you get something that resembles barbacoa, which is delicious stuffed in tortillas with fresh sliced avocado and lime.

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I think omnivores and herbivores alike would enjoy this very smoky, spicy barbecue. It’s not going to fool you into thinking you are eating pork. but the flavor and texture might be close enough to the real thing to satisfy a craving. Warning: if you like your barbecue sweeter, back off on the spice just a bit. This one has a good amount of heat.

BBQ Jackfruit (Vegan “Pulled Pork BBQ”)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1- 20 oz. can young green jackfruit in water, drained (or in brine, drained and rinsed)
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 cup water

Preparation:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Add next six ingredients (cayenne through sea salt), stir, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add jackfruit and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. While jackfruit is cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients: ketchup, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses and water. Add 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Stir to mix thoroughly and add to jackfruit. Bring to a simmer and cover.
  5. Cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  6. Use forks to partially pull apart the fruit into strands and bite size pieces. Reduce heat to low and keep covered until ready to serve.

Creamy Vegan Cole Slaw

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry, shelled, unsalted, raw cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1- 12 oz. package of rainbow slaw
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a food processor, grind the cashews into a meal, as finely chopped as possible.
  2. To the cashews, add dill and mustard and pulse until incorporated.
  3. Add water, olive oil, vinegar and maple syrup to the food processor and process until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture resembles a vinaigrette.
  4. Dump the rainbow slaw into a large bowl with the green onions and add dressing. Stir to coat all of the slaw with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to eight hours before serving.

Tempeh Celebration

I have been a vegetarian for 2 1/2 years and I have never prepared tempeh. Tofu is a staple in my refrigerator, and beans are a staple in my pantry. I always have eggs, milk, and yogurt on hand. I have the protein thing down.

However, meat substitutes are strangers to my kitchen, except for those that arrive in little white Chinese takeout containers tucked inside brown paper bags. We have a small Chinese restaurant around the corner with an extensive vegetarian menu with plenty of mock meat options, mostly made with seitan. I recently ventured into the world of cooking seitan, which I wrote about here.

In celebration of our new dining room table, I embraced the theme of new beginnings and chose to make tempeh for the first time. And that is how Korean BBQ-Style Tempeh became the first meal served on our new table.

I picked up my tempeh at Trader Joe’s awhile ago and it has been sitting in my refrigerator, waiting for this occasion. When I popped it out of the package, I thought, what on earth is this?

Mystified, I left the grainy beige blocks on my counter and hit Google.

Tempeh is a whole soybean product that originated in Indonesia on the island of Java (ooh, I love me some Java Estate coffee) that is created by a controlled fermentation process which binds the soy into blocks. The soybeans are soaked to soften, dehulled, and spread in a thin layer for fermentation. This process causes the beans to fuse together and form a large cake which is then sliced into blocks before packaging. The tempeh that I chose also included other grains: rice, barley, and millet.

Tempeh is a very nutritious food that is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. They’re not kidding when they call this block of tempeh a “powerhouse.” Check out the great nutritional information at World’s Healthiest Foods. This site is great for looking up the nutritional value of certain foods plus the reasons why your body needs these nutrients. Here are the nutrition facts for TJ’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh, which I used in the recipe below.

20 grams of protein per serving? What?!?! Amazing. Now let’s get cooking.

I decided to marinate the tempeh in a Korean BBQ sauce for starters.

When the sweet and tangy smell of this sauce hit my nostrils, I thought of a Korean barbecue place I had been to in Manhattan that served up steaming hot rice bowls stuffed with tofu, that came with a variety of vegetables, toppings, and sauces on the side. My friend Melissa and I delighted in tossing the ingredients together as we ate and seasoning the results to taste. It felt like we were cooking our own meals, which is probably why we loved it so much.

I decided to do my own take on the concept by serving the components of the dish separately and lightly seasoned so Kyle and I could build our own bowls. In the spirit of construction, why not? We started with black pepper linguine.

Then we added sauteed vegetable slaw (onion, broccoli, carrots, cabbage).

And then I pan fried the marinated tempeh and crumbled it into bowls.

And made complete with seasonings…

It was totally delicious – almost like the real thing!

Oh how I miss NY…

Our tempeh adventure was made complete with the addition of a locally brewed beer. Cheers to new beginnings!