Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For vegans who miss puchero: Vegan MoFo #8

Holy crapparoni, I’ve missed 2 days of MoFo’ing. I gotta get my ass into shape…

What I’d like to share today is a vegan version of another childhood favorite: puchero.

I think this dish is something every Filipino family has its own version of. Puchero actually came from Mexican and South American cuisine. It arrived in the Philippines via Spain and I guess, puchero is one good thing we can thank our colonizers / slavemasters of 300 years for.

Puchero, Spanish for “stewpot”, comes from Argentina, Uruguay, and Spain. According to Wikipedia, the
preparation and ingredients of the dish vary by region. Spain particularly likes chickpeas while Argentina and Uruguay like theirs meat-based. Puchero is usually made up of a soup of meat and vegetables.

Here in the Philippines we use chicken, beef, cabbage, baguio pechay / Chinese cabbage, and potatoes. We also like having boiled saba / cooking bananas served on the side. For families who can trace their roots to Spain (fun trivia, on my paternal grandfather’s side we get our Spanish blood from a friar), we like adding chorizo / pork sausage and chickpeas. I believe puchero is usually eaten as a hearty soup but for those with Spanish influences, we like ours soup on the side, meat and veggies served separately, and with rice.

I fondly remember the Sunday puchero tradition upheld in my family. We usually chop up the meat and veggies and mix it with rice, tomato sauce, olive oil, and vinegar in a huge wooden bowl. Each of us had an assignment, whether it’s chopping the meat, or the veggies, or pouring the sauce. My dad usually added the final touch, whether it was a splash of vinegar or a dash of salt. It was a family affair and it was so satisfying to sit down and eat the fruits of our labor.

When my brother Michael and I turned vegan, we no longer joined in this tradition. We missed the family food preparation. When everyone else
would enjoy the puchero, we would have some completely different vegan meal.

Last Sunday we had puchero for lunch and for the first time we were able to enjoy a ve
gan puchero! It felt completely familiar at once and incredibly satisfying to eat. We missed our puchero. For our version we cooked our vegetables (cabbage and baguio pechay) and saba bananas in gently boiling water until tender. Chickpeas, usually an afterthought, became one of the main stars of the dish. We cooked ours in garlic, onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

And I confess, I missed chorizo – or rather, the smoky saltiness it imparts. Luckily I had a stash of homemade vegan chorizo (off Isa’s Vegan Brunch cookbook) in the freezer. I threw in a couple of chorizos in a sautee pan with about 1 inch of water and simmered them until tender. I then sliced the sausages in half, and then in quarters diagonally. So as not to throw out the now flavorful cooking liquid, I sautéed some sliced onions in it with a splash of olive oil until tender. After setting the onions aside, I added another glug of olive oil in the same pan and fried up the chorizos.

Eating puchero after years of no puchero was… nothing short of amazing. We didn’t have the time to slice up the chorizo and veggies and mix it up with chickpeas, rice, tomato sauce, olive oil and vinegar like our family usually does but it was rewarding just the same. I got bits of everything and couldn’t even fit rice onto my plate.

If you come from a family that regularly eats a meat-based puchero – you can have your puchero veganified! So to summarize:
  1. Cook vegetables and saba bananas separately from the meat.
  2. Gussy up your chickpeas – cook them with garlic, onions, and tomatoes.
  3. Fry up your favorite vegan chorizo, either store bought or homemade. Check out Julie’s Spicy Italian Sausages, they’re a good substitute.
  4. The puchero seasonings – tomato sauce (cooked with garlic and onions), olive oil, and vinegar – are already naturally vegan!
  5. Mix everything together and dig in!


pixiepine said...

Wow- that's really neat!

La' said...

I love your blog, Philipino food sounds so interesting! Oh and I gave you Kreativ Blogger award. :)

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