One-pot Louisiana-style stew
Before we go any further, yes, this is 100% plant-based! I know, I know, it looks like there are shrimp in there – there are, vegan shrimp! These “shrimp” are made in Taiwan and contain only a very few, totally harmless ingredients: seaweed, wheat, salt, and natural spices/seasoning. That’s it! I know that some people (mostly non-vegans for some strange reason) seem to take objection to the shape and form of this crazy creation, but the bottom line is – they’re vegan and completely cruelty-free.
So what are they like? Well, they actually have very little flavor themselves (kinda like shrimp, huh?) but they do have an amazing consistency. In my opinion, it is best to cook them in some kind of sauce or in a dish with other spices and seasonings, so that they soak up these flavors. I’ve been wanting to post a one-pot recipe for a while now, and nothing is easier than a one-pot stew!
I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of traveling in my life, and one amazing place I’ve been to is New Orleans, Louisiana. I was there in September 2008 in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, which was a little ironic since Gustav is a very Swedish name, and I was there with a bunch of Swedes! I remember going into a simple restaurant close to the hotel on the evening that we arrived. The city was all but deserted as worried residents had fled town due to hurricane warnings, and this very basic place was one of the few still opened. We were presented with a typed, one-page piece of paper with the words “Hurricane menu” written at the top. That’s about all I remember from that night, well, that and the fact that there were no glasses (they’d been packed away to protect them from breaking) and we had to drink whatever we ordered out of the bottle!
Luckily that was only the first evening. Over the course of the week the Big Easy gradually came back to life, and each night the food we ate got better and better (and the taxi drivers weirder and weirder). One driver asked where we were from. The others all said “Sweden, but this guy is from Connecticut,” pointing to me. “Connecticut!?!? I was SHOT by someone from Connecticut once!” the taxi driver exclaimed. Luckily we were just about to get out, so I opened the door and ran towards a guy on the street holding a sign that read “Huge Ass Beers!” Welcome to New Orleans.
Anyway, back to the food. This is a simpler, straight-forward stew inspired by creole and Cajun flavors. Creole cooking tends to use tomatoes more, while cayenne spiciness is a Cajun quality. Since this dish has both, I wasn’t really sure what to call it! I took the liberty of changing a few other things, too. I was in the mood for potatoes rather than rice, and was happy with the celery in the my Cajun spice mix, but of course you can also add some celery if you want, to give it even more of a Louisiana feel. This has quite a bit of heat to it, so be sure to taste the sauce before adding the cayenne and/or reduce the amount of chili pepper if you are sensitive to spicy food. I didn’t make a roux, either. If, after cooking for the first 30 minutes you think it looks too watery, cook it uncovered for the remaining 10-15 minutes.
So, I hope you enjoy cooking this one-pot Louisiana-style stew! Try not to let those vegan shrimp freak you out, and if you can’t (or don’t want to) get your hands on some, try this dish with some extra firm smoked tofu, instead!
- ca 2 Tbsp (30 ml) - vegan margarine
- 4 large shallots, chopped
- ½ green pepper, coarsely chopped
- ½ yellow pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 green chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 lb (454 g) – potatoes, cut into large cubes
- 3.5 oz (100 g) – fresh okra, sliced
- 5 oz (140 g) – canned corn
- 2 x 14 oz (400 g) cans – whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp (5 ml) – dried thyme
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) – cayenne pepper*
- 1 tsp (5 ml) – vegetable bouillon powder
- 1 -2 tsps (5 ml) – mixed Cajun/jambalaya seasoning (Mine contained celery, garlic, onion, parsley, cayenne (yes, again) etc. You can just use a pinch each of your favorite herbs and spices!)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ lime – juiced
- ½ pound (225 g) – vegan shrimp (smoked, extra firm tofu would also work)
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Melt the vegan margarine in a deep pan or heavy-bottomed pot, add the onions and bell peppers and fry a few minutes.
- Add the chili pepper, potatoes, okra and corn and fry for a few more minutes before adding the tomatoes, the paste, and all the spices and herbs, apart from 1 clove of garlic. Also, before adding any cayenne, taste the stew to see how hot it is - this will depend on how big and how hot the chili pepper is. Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes.
- Place the vegan shrimp or smoked tofu in a small bowl, add the remaining garlic clove and lime juice, and stir. Let the shrimp marinate for the 30 minutes while the rest of the ingredients are cooking. (You can even add a few drop of liquid smoke if you want.)
- After about 30 minutes, add the shrimp to the stew, stir to incorporate them, and cook for about 10 more minutes or until they are heated through. Both the vegan shrimp and smoked tofu can be cooked longer than real shrimp without them getting tough or overcooked.