Thursday, October 20, 2011
Vegan MoFo - R is for Rendang Nangka
R was a difficult letter because I couldn't decide what to make. Rice paper rolls were my original idea as I have wanted to make them for a long time and then I thought about making a risotto but that seemed a little mundane. On the morning I was due to cook something for R, I read this interesting post on I Eat Grains! about how green jackfruit has a very meaty texture and neutral taste and decided to try it out in a Rendang curry. I even stumbled across a rendang recipe using jackfruit in my copy of World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown.
World Vegetarian Classics contains chapters of regions around the world and each chapter starts with a page about an expert in the regions cuisine. I was interested to find that the expert for South-East Asia was Sri Owen, a cookbook author that Cindy and Michael from Where's the Beef have been posting about in recent times. Cindy and Michael have posted a Sri Owen recipe for rendang using tempeh instead of beef which apart from being doubled in quantities looked very similar to the ingredients in my cookbook. The main difference between these recipes was the latter part of the method.
Cindy and Michael mentioned a few tweaks they would make next time around which was to increase the ingredients in the spice paste and/or reduce the amount of coconut so I took this on board and altered the World Vegetarian Classics recipe a bit. I used the stated amount of chilli but decided the leave the seeds in to make it spicier, increased the shallots, garlic, ginger and galangal and cut back on the coconut milk a little.
Reducing the coconut milk decreased the cooking time by about 30 minutes which was fantastic as the curry still took a good 2 hours to cook. The initial preparation doesn't take very long but once that is out of the way, it's just a matter of stirring every now and then. After about an hour, a crust develops on the bottom of your pot which you need to scrape off a few times and mix in with the sauce. These crusty bits were a highlight of the curry as they contained so much flavour.
The man and I were so impressed with the jackfruit in this rendang, my son was a little less enthused about the jackfruit but still liked the curry. The texture of the jackfruit was rather meaty and the pieces were mostly intact after 2 hours of cooking. I think jackfruit is a great mock meat alternative for gluten and/or soy free people and it's something I will use more often, perhaps in my "butter chicken" next time. You can find green jackfruit in tins at asian groceries but be aware that they also sell ripened jackfruit in syrup which is sweeter and softer and wouldn't produce the same result.
The rendang was served with basmati rice and choy sum steamed with minced garlic drizzled with a touch of sesame oil at the end.
Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.
Rendang Nangka (Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics with some tips taken from Where's the Beef)
4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
3 red chillies, roughly chopped
1cm piece galangal, roughly chopped
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer removed
1 teaspoon salt
2 x 540g tins green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Place the shallots, garlic, ginger, chillies and galagal into a blender with about 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and process until smooth. Pour the blender mixture into a large pot along with the rest of the coconut milk, turmeric, bay leaf, lemongrass, salt and jackfruit and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat to medium and allow it to simmer, uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 60 minutes the gravy will become very thick and will require more frequent stirring. A crust will begin to form on the bottom of your pot which should be scraped with a metal spatula to allow a new one to form. After scraping the crust a few times, the gravy should be almost totally absorbed by the jackfruit. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 30 minutes, scraping the crust a few more times. There should be no liquid remaining. Remove the lemongrass and bay leaf before serving.