Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegan Cioppino with Roasted "Crab" and Fried Oregano

I used to do an occasional posting series called "Kvetch Corner". After the whole Avril Lavigne debacle about a year ago, I decided to keep my ranting to a minimum at the risk of re-offending Brazil and Argentina. Well, I think I'm out of the red zone now, so Kvetch Corner is back with a vengeance! So what am I going to Kvetch about this week? Brazilian waxing. Yes, I put myself in the situation. But allow me to backtrack and explain....

For whatever reason, the misses and I decided to get Brazilian waxes last week. I, a waxing virgin, was a nervous wreck prior to the experience. They call me in first. The waxing technician seems nice and professional. I disrobe. I lay on the table, and the woman doesn't even wait 5 seconds before slathering my nether regions with scalding hot wax and giving the strip a tremendous tug. I prepare to scream, but quickly realize "Hey! Not so terrible."

I hear Jane's name called, and they put her in the room next to me. Our two waxing technicians begin speaking to each other through the wall in a language that I could only decipher to be Thai or Vietnamese. Turns out Jane's waxist was a newbie, and mine was walking her through it. Not only was her waxist new, but she would actually yell out "Ouch!" every time she ripped a strip off of Jane. We imagine their conversation went a little something like this...

Jane's: "Ok, so just wax, then strip down, then pull hard"

Mine: "Yes. Just pull as hard as you can."

Jane's technician waxes and pulls.

Jane's: (Said in English) "Ouch! That looks like it hurts."

Mine: "Mine's a hairy little beast. How about yours?"

Jane's: "So much hair! I have to get it all off?!"

Mine: "Yes. I know it's gross, but just do it."

And so went our waxing experience. It wasn't as painful as I imagined (for me, at least), but I limped a bit afterward and we laughed it off. I might even try it again when need be, but at a place where I know the technicians know what they're doing AND saying...mostly for Jane's sake, not mine.

Anyway, speaking of down south experience, this dish is a Veganization of a traditionally seafood based dish, Cioppino. I first had the real deal when I was snow-birding it in Florida with my grandparents, and enjoyed it many times before my decision to quit eating animals. It's tasty and comforting. I highly recommend serving it with some linguini or other pasta of your choice. Enjoy!

Vegan Cioppino with Roasted "Crab" and Fried Oregano

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for frying Oregano (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup Organic Dry White Wine
  • 2 cups Vegan Clam Juice (recipe follows)
  • 2 15 oz cans Chopped Tomatoes in Juice
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh Italian Parsley
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 2 batches of Vegan Crab (recipe follows)
  • 1 loosely packed cup of Fresh Oregano Leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or roasting pan (I use my Le Crueset dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and Vegan Crab, and saute for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are softened and the "Crab" is browning. Add the white wine, then increase the heat to high and allow the mixture to boil for two minutes.

Add in the "clam" juice, tomatoes and their juices, the 1 cup of water, bay leaves, parsley and crushed red pepper flakes, then bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, then simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the skillet or pan to the oven, and roast for 30 minutes.

While the cioppino is roasting in the oven, get your herb-frying oil heating in a saucepan over medium to high heat (depending on your burner strength). Once the oil is hot, carefully add the oregano leaves plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then fry for 1 minute. Remove the fried oregano as possible from the pan, then place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Serve a few leaves as a garnish on each bowl of cioppino.

Vegan Clam Juice

Makes 2 Cups

  • 2 TBSP Vegetarian Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Water (See directions below)

Whisk together the Vegetarian Fish Sauce, White Wine, Lemon Juice and Salt. Pour in enough water so that the total amount of liquid just equals two cups. Use as directed in any recipe that requires real clam juice.

Vegan Crab

(Makes 1 batch. You will need two batches for the Cioppino)

  • 1 can Young Green Jackfruit packed in water
  • 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 large stalk Kombu, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 TBSP Dulse
  • 1 1/2 cup Cold Water
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Mellow White Miso Paste

Drain the jackfruit as well as possible in a colander over your sink. After all the water has drained out, use your hands to break up the jackfruit into "lump crab"-size pieces, squeezing out more water as go along. Place in an airtight container (leave the lid off at this point), and set aside.

Place the lemon juice, cold water and kombu stalk in a small saucepan, and bring the water to a boil. Allow the water to boil for a minute, then remove the saucepan from heat.

Stir in the mellow white miso paste until fully dissolved, then add the salt and dulse. Allow the mixture to sit until it reaches room temperature.

Once cooled, pour the dashi broth over top of the jackfruit. Make sure the jackfruit is fully submerged. Place in the refrigerator, and allow to marinate as long as possible. Overnight is ideal...2 hours should be the minimum.

Once you're ready to use, drain the fruit well and discard the kombu and dulse.


Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

I am laughing ridiculously hard right now! And, I must say, you are far braver than I!

Thanks for another spectacular recipe. :)

All about... (vegan) food said...

AHAHAHAAH I'm Brazilian, I'm used to that and I still think (after many years) that it's painful :P Brava!

How are the things for the wedding?

Gina said...

Haha, you're so funny I love it. I've never waxed, I don't like hair growing back in that area.

Rose said...

Very funny story...as usual, you are a really good writer.

The recipe looks fab...as usual...I'm excited about the vegan clam juice and vegan crab...haven't seen recipes like that before...pure genius...can't wait to give them a try...Thanks!

Bianca said...

Ha! Love the waxing story. I've only had my brows done, and while that doesn't hurt, I'm still afraid of getting anything yanked around down there.

Using jackfruit for crab is such a good idea. I've never had real crab, but I've seen it and I've seen jackfruit. And they both have that same sort of texture.

Jes said...

I'm amazed to hear that waxing might not be that bad!

As for the crab...what does the jackfruit can look like? The only ones I can find in the Asian stores here seem to be sweet, which I'm sure is not what I'm going for. Any pointers on what to look for would be fabulous!

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

haha! well honestly that story does not put me in the mood for seafood (ouch!), but the jackfruit crab does sound pretty awesome. Where do you buy jackfruit? I've never seen it round here.

Sindy said...

Hilarious story @ the wax! Reminds me of "40 Year Old Virgin" :D

Hmmm. I've had a can of that jackfruit sitting in my pantry for about a year. Been wondering what to do with it and been a little scared. Thanks for reminding me -making it into "crab" sounds intriguing!

Cortney said...

I used to get the jackfruit carnitas at Pure Luck, and the perfection of the texture was amazing. I can totally see how this would rock as crab, thanks for the recipe!