The Happy Home Cook: Vegan Kaldereta

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First posted in http://www.astigvegan.com/vegan-kaldereta/

 Vegan Kaldereta (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Vegan Kaldereta (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Kaldereta is a spicy Filipino stew with meat and potatoes cooked in tomato sauce, liver spread, cheese, and chili pepper. Usually, it has beef, pork, or chicken but the most popular version has goat meat. For the most part, Filipinos love this dish for its tender meat and spicy sauce. And more often than not, they serve it with a side of rice. Historically, Filipinos learned about Kaldereta from the Spanish who introduced it in the Philippines during the era of Spanish colonization. Since then, Filipinos have been serving Kaledereta at big parties and special occasions.

From the sound of it, Kaldereta may seem difficult if not impossible to veganize. After all, it has goat meat, liver spread, even cheese. But in reality, the vegan version is easier to make than the meat version without sacrificing taste and texture. Not to mention, the vegan version cooks faster because you don’t have to tenderize anything.

As for texture, you can go with different kinds of meat alternatives. To replace beef and pork, you can use “meaty” tofu (I’ll explain in the recipe). To replace the texture of chicken and goat meat, you can use jackfruit. Just make sure you use unripe, green jackfruit. By the way, Kaldereta uses liver spread too. How the heck are you going to veganize liver spread? Simply use mashed lentils or tempeh to have the same earthy flavor. With the right alternatives that have the same flavor profiles, you can have a meaty Kaldereta without the meat.

In my family, we serve Kaldereta during town fiestas and big parties. Rarely do we have it as an everyday dish. That’s because Kaldereta has tons of ingredients and the meat takes forever to cook. It’s more of a specialty dish. Plus, my family is not a big fan of spicy foods. With the exception of my sister, everyone in my family tends to stay away from chili peppers. But you can’t have Kaldereta without the chili pepper. It won’t be Kaldereta if it’s not spicy! Sure, my version does not have meat, but it does have meaty ingredients. But I won’t dare not put any chili pepper. Besides, living in the Bay Area has opened up my palette and eventually developed my liking for spicy foods.

Whether you’ve had Kaldereta before or you haven’t even heard of it, I hope you try this vegan version. In the recipe below, I will walk you step-by-step so you will feel confident making it even if you’ve never cooked or eaten Kaldereta before. And I invite you to share your creation with your loved ones. After all, Kaldereta is meant to be shared.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total: 40 minutes

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced

  • 1-2 pieces yellow onion, peeled and chopped

  • pinch of salt

  • ¼ red bell pepper, deseeded, cut into chunks

  • ¼ green bell pepper, deseeded, cut into chunks

  • 2-3 thai chilies, thinly sliced (or more for extra spicy)

  • 4-5 pieces dried bay leaves

  • 2 cups tomato sauce

  • 2 cups mushroom broth, plus more to taste (vegetable broth is ok)

  • 3 red potatoes, peeled, cut into big chunks

  • 1 large carrot, peeled, cut into big chunks

  • 1 firm tofu, frozen, thawed, cut to cubes, then fried

  • 1½ cup young green jackfruit, sliced (preferably simmered in vegetable broth ahead of time)

  • ¼ cup vegan cheddar cheese or ¼ cup coconut milk

  • 2-4 tbsp. mashed lentils (optional)

  • 1 -1½ cup tempeh, cut into chunks (optional)

  • ¼ cup peas

  • ¼ cup sliced green olives (optional)

  • 2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish

Preparation

  1. Using a large pan or pot, turn on heat and saute garlic and onions in oil over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and saute until onions have turned soft and slightly opaque.

  2. Add potatoes, bell peppers, bay leaves, and chili pepper. Pour tomato sauce and mushroom broth and mix.

  3. Cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes have softened, stirring occasionally to make sure potatoes won't stick on the bottom of the pot.

  4. Once potatoes can be pierced by a fork, add the rest of the ingredients - carrot, tofu, jackfruit, vegan cheese or coconut milk, lentils or tempeh, green olives, and sweet pickle relish. Mix well. If using vegan cheddar, gently mash to fully melt in the sauce.

  5. Cover and simmer for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks on the bottom of pot or pan.

  6. Add salt and mushroom broth to taste. If adding more broth, simmer for another 5 minutes.

  7. Turn off heat and serve with a side of rice.

Notes

When using vegan cheese, choose one that melts easily. I like the brand, 'Follow Your Heart".

Choose a savory mushroom broth or vegetable broth and not the generic bland ones that come in a box. You can also use mushroom powder or bullion. Just make sure it has no msg or strange preservatives. 

I like to freeze then thaw my tofu before frying because it gives a chewier, meatier bite. Alternatively, you can also use your preferred mock meat like seitan wheat gluten or soy protein.

You might have noticed that I’ve already posted a Kaldereta recipe before.  This one is an upgrade and an improved version from the previous one without making the steps complicated. Although some of the ingredients might be unfamiliar, the cooking method remains basic. And you’re more than welcome to omit the unfamiliar ingredients if you’re compelled to (just not the chili pepper!) The most important part is that you have a tender and hearty main ingredient in spicy, flavorful thick sauce.

Last November, I had the honor and pleasure to feature this recipe during a live cooking demonstration at Vegfest Pilipinas, the Philippines’ all-vegan festival. After much deliberation of what dish to make, I chose vegan Kaldereta. I was happy and thrilled that the audience enjoyed both the demo and samples. And now I’m happy and thrilled to share the recipe here with you.

In the video recipe, you will find that I have a special guest toward the end. I don’t usually have guests in my episodes but I thought this one would need a stamp of approval from a very credible person. With two thumbs up from the crowd in the Philippines and my special guest, I hope you find this recipe a winner. Please feel free to let me know how it goes. As usual, I love hearing back from you. Let’s get to cooking and kain na, let’s eat!


 Chef Richgail Enriquez

Chef Richgail Enriquez

RG Enriquez at astigvegan.com discovers ways to show that Filipino food can be vegan, healthy, and delicious without losing its soul. Born and raised in the Philippines, RG veganizes the Filipino food of her childhood. She has appeared on the television show, "Adobo Nation" and given demonstrations and talks at "Savor Filipino", "Taste of South Lake”, “Barrio Fiesta”, Pitzer College, and Cal-State East Bay.


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