Day 60 – Recipe: Jackfruit Thai Curry with Bell Peppers and Cashews (vegan, gluten-free, corn-free)

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The first (and only time) I’ve ever had Jackfruit was at a little vegan restaurant in Los Angeles called Pure Luck. I read on Yelp that it is now closed, which is unfortunate because that place was such a find. Their entire menu was built around jackfruit, they didn’t have any soy or fake meats, just jackfruit (Just Jack! fruit LOL). I think I had some kind of BBQ jackfruit sandwich… I don’t remember exactly what it was but I know it was delicious.

I started looking for Jackfruit recipes online last week because I’d remembered seeing cans of it at the Asian market. The first recipe to catch my eye came up on about.com, Jackfruit Curry with Bell Peppers, Cashews and Lime Leaf, by Darlene Schmidt. Even though I’m not a huge fan of bell peppers I decided to go for it. I’ve made a few of Darlene’s recipes before and they were all amazing, I figured this one would be too.

So I went to Lee Lee’s Market looking for cans of “jackfuit in water or brine” (which I really thought I’d seen there) and all I could find was “jackfruit in syrup”, which wasn’t the right kind. So I went to the frozen section and after 10 minutes of looking I finally found frozen jackfruit (why is it so difficult to find anything at Asian markets?!). But I found both green jackfuit and ripe jackfruit, and unfortunately had a brain fart and couldn’t remember which one I was supposed to buy so I grabbed the ripe jackfruit. Wrong one. This is why I ended up at the store again the next day, to return the ripe jackfruit and get the correct one. This is what I finally ended up with:

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Completely frozen solid. I put it in hot water to defrost and it was fine after 30 minutes. I ended up using 2 packages because it didn’t seem like there was much fruit in one package. So here is the recipe I followed, it is slightly different from Darlene’s only because I couldn’t find vegetarian fish sauce, but nevertheless it turned out absolutely delicious. I will definitely make this again. I don’t know if it was the brand of jackfuit I used or what but it was different than I’d remembered. This time the texture was more like a canned artichoke heart or hearts of palm, and kind of tasted like that too… but it was still really good.

Jackfruit Curry with Bell Peppers and Cashews

  • 2 packages frozen jackfruit, preferably unripe/green, OR 2 cans prepared jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup), drained

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 12 wedges

  • 1 large green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped/sliced

  • 1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped/sliced

  • 5 dried black mushrooms, soaked in water for 2 hours to rehydrate then drained, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup dry roasted (unsalted) cashews

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • generous handful of fresh basil for garnish

  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil for stir-frying

  • white wine (or white cooking wine) for stir-frying

PASTE:

  • 3 large green onions (or 6 small), sliced thin

  • 2 fresh red chilies (or more if you want it ultra spicy), sliced thin

  • 8 whole lime leaves, fresh or frozen, snipped into tiny strips

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tbsp lime juice

  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos

  • 1 Tbsp dulse, snipped into flakes

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil

  • 4 Tbsp tamari sauce

  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar

PREPARATION

  1. First, prepare the curry paste. Place all paste ingredients together in a food processor or mini-chopper and process well. Lime Leaf Tip: Prepare the lime leaves using kitchen scissors to cut out (and discard) the hard central stem. If lime leaves are frozen, you can quickly thaw them by running under some hot water. Set paste aside.

  2. Cut jackfruit into desired bite size pieces, either in strips or cubes/chunks (as you would with chicken). Set aside.

  3. Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add a little of the wine (1/2 to 1 Tbsp. at a time) instead of more oil whenever wok/pan becomes dry.

  4. Add the bell peppers. Continue stir-frying another 3 minutes, or until peppers have softened and turned bright in color. Again, add a little wine when wok/pan becomes dry to keep ingredients frying nicely.

  5. Add the green jackfuit and black mushrooms. Stir-fry another 3 minutes and add wine for stir-frying if needed.

  6. Add the paste you made earlier, plus the coconut milk. Stir well to combine.

  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, allowing curry to gently simmer 2-3 minutes, or until ingredients are nicely cooked, but not overcooked. Tip: Try not to overcook this curry, or you will lose the fragrance and taste of the paste.

  8. Just before serving, add the cashews, gently stirring them in. Now do a taste-test, looking for a balance of salty, sour, sweet and spicy. If not salty enough, add more tamari, or a little salt. If too salty for your taste, add another squeeze of lime/lemon juice. If not spicy enough, add more fresh chili. If too spicy, add a little more coconut milk. Add a little more sugar if too sour.

  9. To serve, either portion out in bowls or on plates, or ladle the curry into a serving dish. Sprinkle with generous amounts of fresh basil, and serve with brown rice or quinoa. ENJOY!

Serves 4 – 6, depending on how much they like curry!

 

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Day 59 – Eggplant revisited. A much better recipe: Hot & Sour Eggplant Stir-Fry

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Okay I know this looks pretty much the same as yesterday but it’s not, it’s so much better! I don’t usually make the same thing 2 days in a row but circumstances led me back to the Asian market today and for whatever reason I decided to try this again. Yesterday it was good, but the eggplant didn’t cook down enough so it wasn’t really that good. After looking at some other recipes on the internet, I made some adjustments and this time it turned out fantastic. I could eat the entire pan… and I’m not even that hungry! I renamed it Hot & Sour because today it tasted more hot and sour than sweet and spicy… I don’t really know why, I used pretty much the same ingredients.

But anyways if you’re looking at this now and craving eggplant, don’t make yesterday’s recipe make this one! It took a little longer but it was worth it. Oh and “mushroom broth” isn’t really a broth, it’s the liquid leftover from soaking dried black mushrooms. I only used it because I had some leftover in the fridge and I wanted more sauce. You can substitute vegetable broth or water, or just omit it completely if you want less sauce.

Hot & Sour Eggplant Stir-Fry

  • 1.5 lbs Japanese Eggplant (about 3 medium)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 4.5 T tamari
  • 3 T coconut sugar
  • 3 T brown rice vinegar
  • 3 T mushroom broth (or vegetable broth or water)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 fresh red Thai chilies, thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T arrowroot powder
  • 1 T filtered water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Toss. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and drain on paper towels.

Heat 2 T coconut oil in a wok over medium high heat til hot. Add half of the eggplant cubes and stir-fry until eggplant becomes very soft and turns semi-translucent and green-ish in color, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cooked eggplant and set aside. Add more oil to the wok and repeat with the rest of the eggplant. Remove and set aside.

While the eggplant is cooking, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together tamari, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, mushroom broth and sesame oil. This is the sauce. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the wok and throw in the red pepper slices. Stir-fry 5 minutes til slightly carmelized and remove.

Add a little more oil to the wok and toss in garlic, ginger, red chilies and green onion. Stir-fry 1 minute until fragrant, then pour the sauce into the wok. Stir well. Carefully mix in eggplant and peppers and stir well.

Turn the heat up to high and bring the sauce to a boil. While the sauce is heating, whisk the arrowroot powder with 1 T filtered water in a small bowl. Pour the arrowroot slurry into the boiling sauce and stir well to combine. Immediately turn heat to low once the sauce has thickened (it will thicken very quickly) and stir to coat vegetables evenly in the thickened sauce. Throw in half of the basil leaves and stir to combine.

Remove from heat and serve over brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with sesame seeds and the rest of the basil. Enjoy!

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So it’s kind of the same recipe but the technique is different. I think cooking the eggplant in 2 batches really helps to ensure it will end up tender. I also felt that the peppers tasted better when stir-fried separately. All in all, this is the better recipe. See for yourself!

 

 

Day 58 – Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Eggplant Stir Fry (Vegan, Gluten-free, Corn-free)

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I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve written a post! Woops, it really didn’t seem like that long. I do have an excuse though, I went to visit my parents in Sedona for 10 days and took a break. I did cook a lot, but I didn’t make anything new. I don’t mind trying new recipes for my boyfriend and I in my own home but for whatever reason I didn’t want to make anything new for my parents that might have potentially sucked. So I made a few of my favorite dishes from the past couples months, including M Cafe’s Kale Salad, M Cafe’s Quinoa Salad, Indian Roasted Cauliflower and Potatoes, and the Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine I made a couple weeks ago. I added some fresh apricots to the Tagine this time and it was so good, I’m doing that from now on.

Now I’m back home and back to experimenting. As the weeks have gone by I’m finding it harder to stay excited about this diet, so I’m constantly looking for recipes that excite me. While I was away I found a bunch of great looking new recipes, including this one from the Shiksa in the Kitchen, Sweet and Sour Eggplant. I changed a few things and the sauce turned out amazing, however I cooked the eggplant according to her recipe and it just didn’t cook down enough. Next time I make this I will cut the eggplant smaller and cook it in the wok a lot longer. So this is what I did and also what I will do in the future to make this dish perfect:

Sweet and Spicy Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry

  • 1.5 lbs Chinese or Japanese Eggplant (about 2 large)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 4.5 T Tamari
  • 3 T coconut sugar
  • 3 T brown rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 fresh red Thai chilies, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T arrowroot powder
  • 2 T filtered water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed eggplant in a single layer on a cutting board and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Thoroughly rinse salt off eggplant in a colander, then pat dry.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together tamari, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, garlic, ginger, red chilies, and sesame oil. Reserve.

In another small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together arrowroot powder and 2 T filtered water. Pour into reserved sauce and whisk til well combined.

Heat coconut oil in a wok over medium high heat til hot. Add eggplant cubes and stir fry until eggplant gets very soft and begins to fall apart, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the red pepper slices and continue to stir fry 5 more minutes.

Pour the reserved sauce over the eggplant and peppers, and stir until veggies are evenly coated. Mix in half of the basil leaves. Bring sauce to a boil then reduce heat and continue to stir until sauce thickens, about a minute.

Remove from heat and serve over brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with sesame seeds and the rest of the basil. Enjoy!

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Yum! Better for you than at your local Chinese restaurant. And much less oily.