Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shakshouka

This was supposed to be my 20-minute Monday dish, but it took longer than 20 minutes to cook, so I didn't count it.

It's going to be my temporary mission to attempt to make veganized versions of egg dishes like these both delicious and aesthetically pleasing, because they are so good and because we should be able to do it!

I had something entirely different planned for Monday, but Laura Calder was making something like this on  French Food at Home, which I usually catch most of at the gym on work days, even though her dishes are appallingly meat-, grease-, and sugar-heavy (I know, this is the French way, though I am hardly an expert on French cooking or Laura Calder, having been introduced to her even as a concept only a few weeks ago).  In any case, I was pretty stoked that she was cooking something vegetarian for once, though she did manage to meat her version up by actually serving it on a bed of prosciutto "to make it taste better."  Sigh.

Anyway, I was starving and her dish looked great and was the type of veganizing challenge I like.  She called it Basque eggs, but it's a popular dish all around the Mediterranean.  I know of it as the Italian uova in purgatorio ("eggs in purgatory"), and it's also called shakshouka in the Arab world, and it probably has many other names as well.  Basically, it's eggs poached in a tomato or tomato-pepper sauce, and the non-vegan version can be gorgeous, with the egg whites melting into a softly bubbling red sauce, and the yolk resting creamy and bright yellow in the middle.  This, vegans, is not something I think we can realistically replicate.  Delicious as vegan "eggs" might be, they're always going to look a little funny.  I actually dreamed about this dish last night and have some ideas for tidying it up, which, I hope, will work, and then I'll post them.  But it will still taste the same.  For now, the dish is worth making even in its chaotic form, for its ease and quickness and all-round deliciousness.  You don't even need a recipe.  Here's what you do:

Fry up some onions (any kind) until they're soft:


Then add garlic and sliced red peppers--and I added mushrooms too, though this isn't traditional, but neither are vegan eggs:


Continue to stir and fry until the mushrooms release their juices and begin to brown and the garlic is fragrant; then add tomato wedges.  My proportions in this were one small red bell pepper and two tomatoes:


I also wanted mine to be a little spicy, even though this dish is usually quite mild, so I added some Jamaican curry mix I had made some time ago (from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian).  Cook that until the tomatoes begin to release their juices, add salt and pepper to taste, and then add your egg replacement.  This is about 1/4 cup of the ubiquitous Vegan Brunch omelet mix stirred together with about the same amount of finely-grated tangy cheddar-type cashew cheese and a little extra water to make it pourable.  Pour it over the back of a spoon into the dish so that it sits on top rather than sinking to the bottom.  Don't stir!


Cover this and cook it gently, because you don't want the bottom to burn, for about 20 minutes, until the omelet mix sets up.  Here it is, nearly ready:


Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley and black salt if you have it and serve with bread.  The cashew cheeze "melted" a bit into the sauce; the omelet mix on its own wouldn't do that.

So this falls into the "glorious mess" category, and is truly tasty, but I want it pretty too, dang it!

8 comments:

  1. Oh hey, that's really neat. I've never cooked a vegan "egg" like that before, but it looks like a very happy mess!

    My band was catching breakfast in a different town last weekend, and I was watching them eat eggs (I wasn't without food though, I packed granola and ate some hash browns), and I was trying to figure out how in the hell you would ever replicate a yolk. No idea. It might just be one of those things. Personally I never even liked yolks but I like to veganize everything!

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  2. Allysia, I've done the vegan yolk thing, here: http://airyway.blogspot.com/2010/08/vegan-poached-eggs-black-salt.html

    It's astonishingly realistic-tasting, and it's something like this, somewhat deconstructed, that I'm planning for my next try at this dish...

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  3. Oh man, this looks amazing. I can't ever get my vegan brunch omelets to hold together anyhow, so I like the notion of using the recipe in ways in which that doesn't matter.

    BTW, I made that Jamie Oliver risotto recipe you recommended a couple of nights ago (the one with dried porcini), and it was amazing :).

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  4. Come on Zoa, you don't think the shakshouka looks good? Maybe it looked imperfect in person but the picture sure looks good, if a little molten! Just mince up the parsley and sprinkle it over the top — or maybe add green onions. I share your annoyance with people who add meat to veg dishes so they will taste better. Tsk.

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  5. Thanks, Stacy! Give it a shot--it's pretty worry free even if it does decompose somewhat in the pan. And yes, I certainly heart that risotto! Did you grind up the dried mushrooms and everything?

    Andrea, I didn't say it didn't look *good*--it just doesn't look *pretty*--and you have to admit that some of the omni versions really are gorgeous. Laura Calder's in its bed of prosciutto was gorgeous, but I bet you could do something similar with radiccio...

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  6. Yes, I ground that mess up--it was awesome!

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  7. You are so brilliant! I've always been intrigued buy this dish (I love red pepper) but would never have thought of putting it together like this. Also, I checked out your other poached egg post (which I guess I actually have seen before and forgot about) and also - genius!

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  8. What if it were layered upon a bed of roasted eggplant slices, or roasted red pepper spread.

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