I decided to include Puerto Rico in my America stop for two reasons: most people don’t realise that Puerto Rico is somewhat Governed by the USA, and there are actually more Puerto Rican people living in mainland USA than in Puerto Rico.
I’m a little behind on the plan, so Monday night became Puerto Rico night, as we spent the weekend gallivanting around the city eating other people’s food (and a big shout out goes to Laksmi Villas in Dandenong- best Indian Vegetarian we’ve come across in Melbourne, seriously good coconut chutney).
I chose to make Rice and Pigeon Peas, which claims to be the national dish, and Chicken Tofu Fricasse. Both dishes were a little time consuming, but it was nice to get back into the swing of it after a few days off. I used recipes from Rican Recipes, and made a couple of adjustments to veganise.
Rice and Pigeon Peas, as the name suggests, usually uses Pigeon Peas. I don’t know where I’d get these, and in the end I used ordinary peas, which worked, although made the dish less authentic, and less protein-packed. I also used brown rice instead of white, to make it a little more nutritious. I also didn’t have a packet of onion soup, and so added some celery salt and a little stock powder.
The Rice and peas were seriously delicious, and was my favourite of the two dishes. They were a risotto-style dish, with a strong tomato and spices flavour. The recipe was easy to follow, although if you give it a go do make sure to click the links for Sazon (spices) and Sofrito (tomato and onion mixture) first, as you’ll need to have some extra ingredients to make them and add them to the pot.
With it, we had Tofu Fricasse, my vegan version of Chicken Fricasse. Again I followed the recipe with the exception of some necessary substitutions, such as tofu instead of chicken, and my last strip of vegan bacon instead of the ham.
This dish was a sort of casserole by Aussie standards. It had potato, peas, whole olives, onions, tomatoes and tofu, making it a hearty and satisfying winter meal. The one thing I would change next time around? I would use ordinary wine or stock, instead of using the last of the non-alcoholic stuff I did use- silly Keira, Lambrusco and savory don’t mix. It turned the Fricasse a little sweet, which didn’t mesh well with the other flavours.
They were served together with some avocado and some coriander from the garden, which added to the yumminess.
Both dishes turned out well, and I would happily make them again. I loved the combination of tomatoes, olives, capers, cumin and chilli, which int something you come across very often. Many other dishes at Rican Recipes looked fabulous too, and I had to stop myself from making the Caramel Flan (we’ve definitely had enough dessert for a little while). Maybe I’ll have to make another stop at Puerto Rico during the culinary tour. We’ll see.