Vegan eggplant ‘herring’ – in mustard and archipelago sauces
Yesterday was the longest day of the year, but Swedes, who normally celebrate the eve of everything, patiently wait until the first Friday after the Summer Solstice before celebrating Midsummer – one of the biggest holidays of the year!
Even if the sun doesn’t show her smiling face to us everyday, she’s still up there in the sky much longer than usual this time of year. On June 21st, 2016, the sun set at 10:08 PM and rose again at 3:31 AM here in Stockholm. But as we all know, the sky doesn’t get totally dark right after a sunset. The sky was darkest from 11:40 until 2:00 AM, during a period known as “civil twilight”. This is described as a period when artificial sources of light are not needed to carry out most outdoor activities. So basically, it doesn’t get truly dark here right now! Instead we get a couple hours of dusk.
The sun working so hard to give us light and warmth is surely something to celebrate, and celebrate we do! If you haven’t seen the Swedish Midsummer for Dummies video, you should check it for a laugh or two! I wouldn’t say that’s exactly how it is, but it’s still pretty accurate, and it certainly paints a vivid picture of this most Swedish of holidays!
So, on to the food! Whether eaten at lunch time as a separate meal, as the appetizer before the main course or simply as part of a large buffet of food, pickled herring will be found on nearly every table in Sweden this Friday. However, not of course, on a vegan Midsummer table. Here, vegans have come up with a delicious, plant-based alternative – eggplant! Eggplant is often mentioned as a vegetable to use in place of meat, but makes a great, cruelty-free replacement for fish as well!
The key to getting the eggplant just the right texture for this recipe, is blanching. You blanch a fruit or vegetable by immersing it in boiling water for a short period of time, preparing it to be added to the sauces by softening it. Raw eggplant would be too dry and chewy, but overcooked eggplant will be too soft and mushy. So it’s very important to boil your eggplant for no longer than 4 minutes. When added to the sauces later, it will soak up the flavors in the sauces, softening it further.
Pickling foods in vinegar and salt was used as a way to keep something fresh throughout the winter or for any longer period of time. Spices, herbs and vegetables were added to the liquid in order to enhance the flavor. Personally, I am not a big fan of the pickled version of this particular dish. I do, however, love the creamy, saucy ones! So of course, those are the ones I’ve chosen to share with you here. They both contain dill, some leek, and some kind of plant-based cream. The mustard one, contains, well, mustard of course! The so-called archipelago version contains garlic, lemon and kelp caviar, to give it a little bit of that sea flavor!
Even if you aren’t celebrating Midsummer, I hope you give these vegan eggplant ‘herrings’ in mustard and archipelago sauces a try at your next summer buffet!
Eggplant in mustard sauce
- ⅓ cup (.8 dl) – plant-based cream
- ½ cup (1.2) – yellow mustard
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – dijon mustard
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – coconut sugar
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup (.8 dl) – olive oil
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – dill, finely chopped
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) – leek, finely chopped
- 1½ cups (3.5 dl) – eggplant, blanched
- Eggplant in archipelago sauce
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) – plant-based crème fraiche or sour cream
- ¼ cup (60 ml) – egg-free mayonnaise
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – dill, finely chopped
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) – leek, finely chopped
- 3.5 oz (100 g) roughly ⅓ cup (.8 dl) – kelp/seaweed caviar
- ⅛ cup (30 ml) – yellow mustard
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – lemon juice
- 1-2 cloves – garlic minced
- 1½ cups (3.5 dl) – eggplant, blanched
- Peel and cut the eggplant into fairly thick slices, roughly ⅓-½ inch (ca 1cm). Then cut the slices into bite-sized portions, maybe 3 or 4 pieces per slice.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and blanch all the eggplant for 3-4 minutes. Do NOT overcook or the eggplant will become too soggy. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add all the ingredients for the mustard sauce to one bowl and all the ingredients for the archipelago sauce to another. Mix each sauce well.
- Add half the eggplant pieces to each bowl and gently stir.
- Transfer the completed eggplant ‘herring’ to jars, and store in refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.
- Serve with boiled potatoes and hard bread as an appetizer or as part of a larger buffet.