I have been lucky enough to travel extensively throughout the US including down in the south which I love.
While in New Orleans on one trip, I enrolled in a local cooking course to watch how good cajun food was made.
Although it wasn’t plant based cooking and I wasn’t vegan or didn’t even cook back then, I thought it would be a fun thing to do.
The principles for cooking cajun food are still the same whether it’s vegan or not. You just change up the animal products for cruelty free ingredients.
The most important thing I remember from this experience was the importance of making up a roux first. Roux is pronounced ‘roo’ and it is what gives gumbo and jambalaya their flavour. It uses what the locals call the ‘Holy Trinity’, onion, capsicum (bell peppers) and celery. I also add garlic.
Once you have the base right you can add whatever ingredients you desire with cajun flavours to make the perfect meal.
If it tastes good, they’ll be asking “Who made dat?”
See my recipe below.
- FOR THE ROUX
- 2 tablespoons of plant based butter
- 1 cup of wholemeal flour
- 1/2 cup of diced brown onion
- 1/2 cup of diced green capsicum
- 1/2 cup of diced celery
- 1 clove of garlic
- 400 grams of mock chicken diced into 1 inch square chunks
- 2 chopped carrots
- 2 chopped zucchinis
- 1/2 cup of peas
- 1/2 cup of beans
- 1 cup of broccoli
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 cups of low gi brown rice
- 6 cups of mock chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons of cajun seasoning mix
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- Lite salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Place the plant based butter and wholemeal flour into a large non-stick pot on a medium heat. Stir together then around until the roux is smooth and a light brown colour (slightly darker than peanut butter). This should take about 10 minutes.
Throw in the onion, capsicum, celery and garlic. Stir on low heat for a few minutes until you can smell the fragrant flavours combined.
Now add in the Gumbo ingredients. Bring to the boil then turn down to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it to ensure the liquid doesn't completely evaporate.
Once the liquid has reduced to a minimum take off the heat, remove the bay leaves and serve.
Garnish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.
A traditional method to serve Gumbo is on white rice infused with salt and lashings of butter. I chose to use low gi brown rice and to cook it all in the same pot to save my blood sugar from spiking high, cut out extra fat I don't need in the butter and to save extra washing up.
Unless you have many mouths to feed you will have plenty of leftovers to freeze for easy lunches or dinners. This dish always tastes better the next day and the day after.