Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dominican Vegan: Featuring some of my Living Food Dishes Part 2

I started developing my cooking in college. I couldn't afford the meal plan, the food was nasty anyway,  so I ventured off it with some of my friends, like Oscar and Jose. I would call my mom and ask for her to explain the process of cooking certain foods. At first, my rationale was that it had to be done by the book since we were beginners in it. Just a few months ago, Jose and I remembered me getting so mad at him for interfering with the cooking on the chicken. Eventually, we would freestyle some of the food, without knowing what the outcome would be. In the end, we stuck to our favorite types: Caribbean and Mexican.  After I became a vegan, I switched the dead parts, for best parts. The real protein-plant based ones. Below are some of these dishes I've made over the years.

You can never go wrong with a side of Arepitas. Traditionally they are made in the Dominican Republic with yucca, one of the most popular root vegetables consumed by the Tainos.  The Yucca is pealed and cut into smaller pieces. Then grated using a grater. The grated yucca is turned into a ball of dough by draining any liquid using cheese cloth. It is mixed with butter and anise seeds.  The dough, broken into smaller balls, are then fried and flattened as they cook.  In this vegan version, you do not need any additional binders, aside from Earth Balance butter.  They cook perfectly well without any eggs.  What allows them to bind so well is the lack of extra liquid inside the grafted yucca. 

Ensalada de Rabano y Berro


I grew up eating salads of watercress and radishes, when the traditional enselada verde was not available. It's very simple to make using lime, salt, and pepper. Watercress can actually be cooked/heated as well. This is a perfect medicinal salad.  Both radishes and watercress have healing properties.


Mangu is literally mashed plantains. It is arguably the most popular dish in the Dominican Republic because it can be eaten at any time of day. People eat it with eggs, meat, salami. I eat it with Tofu or Tempeh and make it using soy butter and the pickled onions are made with apple cider vinegar.

Platano Relleno, Arroz con Gandules, Repollo
Puerto Rico is like my second home that I've never been to. I grew up with Boricuas and quickly realized there weren't many differences with the exception of how the U.S. dealt with our respective countries. Our foods are extremely similar and we make many of the same dishes with slight differences in preparation and ingredients. Here I made the rice dish using jasmine brown rice and organic gandules that have to be soaked for 8-12 hours. The stuffed plantains are uniquely from Boriken and you make it by cutting the green plantains into three quarters, frying them, and slowly scooping some of the plantain "meat" off the center. That space is used to put cheese, meats, etc. I stuffed it with tofu and vegan Daiya cheese. The cabbage is universal all throughout Latin America. We usually have it as a simple raw salad with tomatoes and in the Dominican Republic is commonly known as repollo.


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