Vietnamese Vegan Curry
I have been watching quite a lot of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and there was an amazing episode in Vietnam where he ate a $6 noodle dish with Barack Obama. I loved everything he ate on this trip and it certainly made me want to go to Vietnam. I highly recommend catching it on Netflix if you haven’t already and after a few eps you would have travelled the world in a few hours. Anyway, I wanted to make something comforting that was vegan for this week in January. This recipe is traditionally made with chicken, potatoes and carrots and is called, Cà Ri Gà. I have kept the base the same and instead of using fish sauce I made a simple shiitake soya sauce stock which added a little more depth to the sauce. The lemongrass, ginger, garlic, onion base is a real winner and it can also all be cooked in one pot!
Also if you are not a strict vegan then instead of the mushrooms stock I would add 2-3 tbsp fish sauce.
whole cauliflower, cut into florets (350g) and keep the inner leaves
2.5 tbsp mild curry powder
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes
1 large white onion, sliced julienne/lengthways
8 garlic cloves, diced or you can grate them
60g ginger, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass sticks, outer layer removed, ends trimmed and sliced lengthways
2 medium carrots, trimmed and sliced into 1cm circles
1 tbsp unrefined caster sugar
900ml hot vegetable stock
170g baby corn, sliced lengthways
1 tin of coconut milk (400ml)
3 baby pak choi, sliced lengthways
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
Sea salt and black pepper
Good pinch of dried chilli flakes, optional
For the shiitake stock
10g dried shittake mushrooms (bought mine from here)
3 tbsp soya sauce
Boil a kettle with water and put the dried shiitake into a small bowl. Pour the boiled water over the mushrooms until just covered and mix in the soya sauce. You should have at least 8 tablespoons worth of liquid or more. Leave to rest and infuse.
Put the cauliflower into a bowl and sprinkle over 1.5 tablespoons of curry powder. Mix everything together and put to one side.
Set a large saucepan to a medium to high heat and add in 3 tablespoons of oil followed by the aubergine pieces. Fry until the edges have gone golden and they are almost totally cooked. These will take a few minutes and you might need to add a splash more oil. Scrape the aubergine on to a plate and put to one side.
In the same saucepan add the remaining oil and heat up before adding in the chopped onions. Fry for about 3 minutes until they have softened and gone translucent before adding in the chopped ginger and garlic. Fry for another minute and add in the carrots, sugar and leftover curry powder. Let everything mix around the pan for a minute before pouring in the hot vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then down to a simmer for about 5 minutes until the carrots have softened a little. Then add in the cauliflower florets, leaves and make sure to scrape in all the curry powder. Bring to the boil again and down to a simmer for 4 minutes before adding in the baby corn, aubergine pieces and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut and pak choi and cook for another minute. Add around 8-9 tablespoons of the mushroom stock and use the leftover shiitake to chop into an omelette for another time. Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes if using. Taste to check the seasoning and add in more curry powder if desired. Serve with basmati rice with coriander and sliced spring onion on top.