Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spicy Vegan Chow Chow

Spicy Chow Chow

I love animals but this is not a blog about chow chow the dog  although I love this type of dog, so cute.  This is about chow chow the relish.  It is a famous kind of relish in southern part of the United States. My idea of trying it came from Michael Symon's  Chow Chow in the show The Chew.  It looked pretty darn good that I got to try it.  I have never heard of chow chow relish before.  It is time to experiment.

I modified the recipe by adding cauliflower and revising the amount of salt.  I used agave nectar instead of sugar.  I also add more fresh jalapenos since I like it spicy.

Chow Chow ingredients from left to right: fresh corn, yellow, red, and green bell peppers, cauliflower, fresh jalapenos, and red onion.
Unfortunately, I could not find yellow fresh corn so I used white corn.  It will be more colorful to use yellow corn.  Frozen sweet yellow corn can also be used (about 10 oz bag).

Spicy Vegan Chow Chow
Serve 6 (makes 6 cups, 2 jars)
Adapted from Michael Symon's recipe

2 ears fresh yellow corn (cut the corn kernels of the cobs)
Note:  substitute with 10 oz yellow sweet corn bag, thawed, if fresh corn are not available
1/2 cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 medium green bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 medium red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 medium yellow bell pepper (seeded and chopped_
1 red onion (peeled and chopped)
3 fresh jalapenos (stemmed and chopped)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp. table salt
1 tsp. whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1.5 tsp. whole black peppercorn

2 jars with tight lids

  1. Combine vinegar, agave nectar, salt, allspice, cinnamon stick, celery seeds, mustard seeds, and black peppercorns in a saucepan over high heat.  Wait till it boils, then turn it down to simmer for 30 minutes.  Set aside.  Remove cinnamon sticks and whole allspice.
  2. In the video, Michael Symon used a food processor to chop all the vegetables (corn kernel not included). This is a real quick method to chop vegetables. I tried this method but I prefer to chop the vegetables into small pieces with a knife.
  3. In a saucepan, combine corn kernels and cut vegetables with the pickling mixture from no.1.  Add enough water to cover the vegetables but not too soupy.
  4. Bring to a boil with a high heat.  Once it is boiling, turn it down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Once the relish is cooled down, pour into a jar, seal, and keep refridgerated up to 2 weeks.
Refridgerated Chow Chow in a jar.

What can you use this relish with?  You can use it as a topping of veggie hot dog, veggie burger, or  on a sandwich filling.   My favorite use of it is using it with slaw.  I mixed this relish with cabbage slaw or broccoli slaw.  I don't add anything to it, just combine the chow chow and shredded cabbage or shredded broccoli stalks and carrots (see picture below).   It is a great slaw for those who don't like mayonnaise-based slaw just like DH. 

Broccoli slaw mixed with spicy chow chow.
Furthermore, you can use the chow chow based slaw in a sandwich or veggie hot dog.  Below is my use of this kind of slaw in a BBQ sandwich.  I ate this kind of sandwich at Phoney Baloney's Healthy Sandwiches called Cali BBQ.   This BBQ sandwich starts with 2 toasted squaw sandwich bread, slathered with yellow mustard, topped with BBQ  'beef' steak trips (strips from Trader Joe's combined with your favorite BBQ sauce), and topped with chow chow broccoli slaw and sliced pickles.
BBQ sandwich with chow chow broccoli slaw.

I hope you are as brave as I am to experiment, too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Version of Coconut Bacon

Spicy Smoky Coconut Bacon
I was first introduced to coconut bacon when I first visited the Phoney Baloney's Sandwich Shop in Irvine.  My first reaction was WHAT?  How strange? However, after tasting their gluten-free VEGAN ELVIS sandwich which includes peanut butter, banana , house made coconut bacon on toasted whole wheat sourdough , I was sold.  The owner of this shop gave me a taste of  his house made 'bacon' just by itself.  Yum!  I asked him what to put into the coconut flake to make the bacon and he gave some ideas but not a recipe.

I started searching  the Internet and VOILA, many results, this coconut bacon IS popular among vegetarians!  It was first created by Chef Jesse Kimball from the Memphis Taproom, a non vegan chef.  This is what I learned from chubby vegetarian blog.  In Memphis Taproom, Cheff Kimball serves vegan club sandwich with smoked coconut with added spices so it tastes like bacon. Brilliant!

Since this discovery, I've been making coconut bacon at home and use it as toppings for salad, vegetable dish, or just munch them as snacks.  It is also great for BLT or BLAT, or club sandwich.  My version of the coconut bacon includes ground CAYENNE  to add some spicyness.  It adds a bit of bite to it.
Ingredients used from top left, clockwise:  dry unsweetened coconut large flakes, low sodium tamari, onion powder, liquid smoke, cayenne pepper and garlic granules (black pepper, maple syrup and toasted sesame oil are not shown).

I love to use this brand of dry unsweetened organic large coconut flake:  Let's Do Organic.  I know that Chef Kimball uses a fresh coconut and smoke it but I am just too lazy to do that.  This brand of coconut is cut pretty thin.  Although I have also used the Bob's Red Mill brand.  Which ever you can find will be good as long as the coconut is cut thin, the flake is large, and is unsweetened.

Spicy Smoky Coconut Bacon
Makes 5 cups (make a lot all at once and store them in a tight container)

1/2 cup Tamari, low sodium
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. garlic granules
1 tsp. onion powder
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cayenne powder  (1/4 tsp if you want is SPICY)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

5 cups dry unsweetened coconut large flakes
  1. Combine thoroughly all of the the marinade ingredients above in a bowl (without the coconut flakes).
  2. Then, add the coconut flakes and gently stir them to combine with the marinade. Stir gently so not to break the large flakes. I like to let it sit for about 1 hour since the coconut flake is dry I want the coconut to soak in the marinade.
  3. After about 1 hours, preheat oven to 325 F. Layer 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil (parchment works better). Then, spray them with canola oil spray.
  4. Layer the marinated flakes, as single layer as possible, on the 2 cookie sheets. Do not pour leftover marinade sauce onto the sheets since we want to bake them to dry.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Take them out and stir. The flakes should be slighly brown by now. 
  6. Then, bake them again for 5 more minutes. At this point keep watching so they don't get burnt. It is easy to burn them so be careful.  Depending on how hot your oven is. Take them out and stir and check. The baked flakes should still be WET but the flakes are BROWNED and all liquid marinade is ABSORBED. If the flakes are too wet, after stirring them, bake them again for another 3-5 minutes but keep checking.
  7. How do you know when they are done? The flakes will still be limp and  brown but not burnt. The flakes should NOT BE CRISPY when you take them out of the oven. They will be crispy during the cooling down process. Leave the flakes on the cookie sheets and let them cool. As they cool they will become crispy and dry. When they are cool, rake them gently with a fork and pick out the ones stuck to the parchment paper or foil. Store in a tight jar and last for 2 months. 

    Note:  if they are not crispy when they are already cool, put is in a 250 F for 5 minutes and then let them cool again.
Spread marinated coconut flakes onto a cookie sheet.

After they are baked, let them cool until they turned crispy and dry.