24 August 2011

Re-Imagining Tradition

Thank you so much for the encouraging comments on last week's blog post. My no-added-sugar, whole grain, mostly-raw plan is going well. Fresh fruit and vegetables abound, summer seems as ideal a time as any to embark on such a journey. My body already feels better than when I was weighed down by excessive sweets and simple starches. The added mindfulness this cleanse (or sorts) gives me is certainly a bonus that I hope to carry with me once I gradually reintroduce modest amounts of the food I'm currently avoiding.
Now for something a little different. Just prior to my dietary adjustment, I began to revisit some traditional dishes from my childhood, with the purpose of making vegan-friendly versions of them. The food upon which I was raised--primarily that of Hawaiian regional and Filipino cuisines--often contained either meat, eggs, or dairy, if not all three. Filipino cuisine in particular seems to be inclined toward having meat or seafood in just about every savory dish; even if they don't contain discernible chunks of animal flesh, vegetable dishes are often flavored with dried shrimp, fish paste, or minced pork. Some of the most popular desserts are enriched with eggs and either evaporated or sweetened condensed milk. But as is the case with so much of non-vegan fare, there are ways to adapt even the most notoriously meat-heavy Filipino dishes without compromising flavor. I always enjoy attempting to reinterpret traditional dishes with a vegan spin. It's a deliciously fun way to bolster my renewed appreciation for the communal spirit behind the food of my heritage, as so much of the Filipino dishes my mother and grandmother prepared during my childhood are associated with sit-down, family-style meals or potlucks.

Apritada (also referred to as afritada) is a dish I recall eating occasionally (albeit reluctantly, because I was a very picky eater as a child). It is usually prepared with pork or chicken, much like adobo, but with the addition of tomato and beer. Potatoes help to make it a filling, one-pot entree. My vegan version obviously doesn't include meat, with firm tofu as the main protein. I also added chickpeas, which are sometimes included in traditional variations of apritada. It's a slightly tangy, hearty, wholly satisfying stew that even my own mother approved.
Apritada (printer-friendly version)
Inspired by Hawaii Filipinas' Favorite Recipes by the Filipino Women's League
Yields six to eight servings

15 oz firm or extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, frozen, and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 c beer (one 12-oz bottle)
1/4 c distilled white vinegar
2 tsp vegetarian "chicken-style" broth powder, or regular vegetable broth powder
1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c tomatoes, diced (one 14.5-oz can, drained)
1 c tomato sauce (one 8-oz can)
1 T soy sauce
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, or other thin-skinned potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 2/3 c cooked chickpeas (one 15.5-oz can, drained and rinsed)
1 medium-sized bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 dried bay leaf

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Toss the tofu with salt and pepper and cook it until the tofu is uniformly golden brown, turning occasionally. Lower the heat and carefully add the beer, vinegar, and broth powder, stirring to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the liquid just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the tofu to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the tofu from the skillet and reserve the cooking liquid.

In the same pan, heat 1 tsp oil and cook the onion and garlic over medium-low flame, until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, potatoes, chickpeas, bell pepper, bay leaf, and reserved tofu cooking liquid. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then cover and cook over medium-low heat until the potatoes are fork-tender (approximately 20 minutes). Return the tofu to the pan and simmer uncovered for another five minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with steamed rice and enjoy.

What are some of your favorite vegan remakes of traditional dishes?


  1. tiffany- it's so awesome that grew up with such an amazing cultural background.  i've always been interested in filipino and hawaiian food.  i never knew how heavily filipino food relied on animal products.  it's so great that you've been able to veganize these dishes ;) 

    i hope you post a veganized hawaiian dish soon.  the only thing that comes to my mind for hawaiian food is pineapple and pork!

  2. What an interesting post! I don't know anything about either Filipino or Hawaiian cuisine.

  3. Thank you for sharing this recipe, Tiffany. I'd never heard of the dish. Definitely will try it!

  4. I don't think I've tried Filipino cuisine - but would like to.  This looks great! I find myself veganizing a lot of midwestern food - like "loose meat sandwiches" and such.  It's great to get that comfort food and still have it be vegan.

  5. Alessandra Zecchini8/26/11, 3:21 PM

    I like it, it seems to have all ingredients I like, but I am not familiar with Yukon gold potatoes, is this just a type of yellow potato?


  6. Yes, it's a type of yellow potato. Any thin-skinned potato would work. Russet or other starchy potatoes will work, too, but you should peel them first.

  7. Glad to hear your cleanse is going so well! The apritada looks super delicious, I love those home style type of food! :-)


Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)