with EL CHAVO!
to make Vegetarian Menudo!
(It's Vegan too!)
Bienvenidos Chavos y Chavas a otra edicion de mis recetas vegetarianas!
Settle down now with all your laughing and guffawing, cuz this here is
indeed a plate of vegan menudo. And it's good. No, really, its tasty
and animal-less. Oh shut up with the giggling, let me get started!
I've seen people ridicule my vegetarian Mexican recipes, some idiot
laughing at the concept of tofu in tamales, someone on facebook jokingly
suggesting I turn in my "mexican card" for the sellout idea of
vegetarian chorizo. If these cooking instructions are "authentic" or
not is of no concern to me, cuz I just don't give a fuck. I don't eat
animals, but I do aim to eat tasty food. No, I'm not Mexican but my
Chicano tastebuds favor the flavors from the homeland down south, and I
do believe these cooking instructions are worthy of your time and
effort. Do with that info what you may.
For those not in the know, Menudo is a popular Mexican dish for weekend
mornings, and often sought after as a cure for hangovers. It's a hearty
chile based soup with maiz (hominy) and usually some disgusting meats,
like Cow Stomach, aka tripe. Mind you, even lots of meat eaters hate
the flavor and extreme chewiness of tripe, and many order their Menudo
"solo con maiz" so they don't get any of the terrible tripe. Cuz
really, most of the flavor is in the broth and the maiz. And I've come
up with a fairly easy way to make your own Veggie Menudo at home!
Ok, let's get something straight: I'm not going to give you a recipe.
I'll show you how I make this dish but there's just no way I can give
you accurate measurements of what I used. Truth is, I never really know
how much of this or that I use, I just kinda wing it. The beauty of
this system is that it allows for tinkering and for you to put your own
touch on it. The drawback is that those unfamiliar around the kitchen
seem to get lost without constant preciseness, somehow tied to this
idea that it will all go horribly wrong if you add 1/2 a teaspoon
instead of a 1/4 teaspoon. Nope, it will still turn out to be food. And
hopefully next time you'll tweak it just a bit to get it more to your
Above we see the basis of this soup, a bunch of chiles. I usually look
in my pantry, see what I have, and formulate my recipe that way. This
time around, for a big pot of menudo, I'm using about 6 chiles
guajillos, 3 anchos, and 3 arbol for a bit of kick. This is probably a
bit more chile than necessary, but I like to prepare more instead of
less, we don't have to use them all.
I like to remve the seeds and veins from the chiles before I start.
This way our resulting dish is not overly spicy. Just tear the chile
and shake out the seeds and pull out the vein. Not sure why this is
done, but that's what I do. (You don't even have to do any of this if
you don't want. What do I care?) Do this with the guajillos and the ancho, let the seeds
be in the arbol chiles.
Feel free to wipe down the chiles with a damp cloth/towel to remove any
excess dirt they may have. But a lil' dirt never hurt no one. ;) We
toast them on a comal for a few minutes, this helps release the
aromatic oils in the chile. Turn them over, make sure not to burn them.
About 2 min low heat on each side should be good.
Once that's done, place them in a pot of boiling water, bring the water
back up to a quick boil. Then turn off the heat. We will let these
chiles steep for about 30 minutes, this rehydrates them and makes them
easier to blend.
Oh yeah, add an onion to the steeping chiles.
And lots of garlic! I like to use around 6 cloves, but I could see
adding a bit more. Stick to 5 or 6 for now, next time you can see if
you want more.
After 30 minutes, the chiles should be nice and soft. Uhh, I resumed my
cooking about 3 hours later as I had some stuff to do. No worries, its
not like they'll go bad. Add the chiles, onion, and garlic into a
blender, pour in some of the liquid to aid in the blending, and mix it
There's going to be lots of lil' chunks of chile in your sauce so make
sure you strain it before using. A fine mesh colander is preferable.
Don't have a strainer? Head to the 99 cent store, surely they have
some. Or use your t-shirt if you must, just strain it already.
See? All the fine smooth goodness we want is below, the rough gritty
dregs we can throw away.
Heat up some corn oil in a big pot. I used around 1/4 cup (I think) cuz
I was trying to finish off an oil bottle. You do want it to have
some extra oil as menudo works well that way. But if you want it
healthier, by all means use less.
Pour the strained chile sauce into the hot oil. You'll now need to add
quite a bit of water, so add some. Enough to make it a big pot of soup. Turn up the heat as we want this to
boil. Now we add some of our flavorings, such as a bouillon cubes..
..a palmful of Mexican oregano..
..and a few bay leaves. Oh, and salt. Just pour some in, taste, add,
taste, stop. Salt is a great ingredient, learn to use it properly.
Bring this broth to a boil, then turn the heat down to a slow boil.
Simmer this sauce for at least around 10-15 minutes, the spices will
break down, the salt will work its wonders, the broth will start coming
alive with an amazing taste, somewhat gamey, but all rich and
flavorful. This is where you work your magic, add something if it needs
it. I added a bit of black pepper, a dash of nutritional yeast, and I
think that was it. Maybe some cumin would be good.
Even though it doesn't need it, I am going to add a substitute meat in
the form of some textured soy slices. It does add a nice texture to the
menudo, and it's much easier to chew than that hated tripe. You can
find this style of slices at health food shops but I got a large bag of
these excellent ones at Bodhi Vegetarian Supply in Rosemead. (8450
Valley Bl. #6 626.280.7936)
These are a bit larger than I want, but we will cut them later. Put
some in a bowl and rehydrate by adding boiling water.
Around 15 minutes later, the TVP "meat" is ready to use.
I cut these into smaller chunks.
The most essential item to menudo is the hominy, which is basically a
certain type of dry corn kernal that has been cooked in lime (as in the
stone, not the citrus) and been cleaned of its skin. I think you can
make this yourself, but you can do that on your own time. Today we will
be using a big can of hominy, like the one we see above. I got this big
can on sale for $1.99.
Drain the hominy, it should look like this. It's already cooked, you
just need to add it to the menudo around 10-15 minutes before you shut
it off, basically to heat it up.
Simmer the chile sauce soup with the hominy for those 15 minutes. Oh
yeah, and add the TVP slices. I forgot to take a pic.
At some point you'll decide its ready. Like here, I decided its ready.
Ladle out a proper mix of maiz, tvp slices, and broth. That proper mix
is up to you.
And now, the fixings! Part of the menudo experience is all the extra
stuff you add afterwards, ingredients you don't cook and are added
according to your preference. These include sliced cabbage (essential),
chopped onions, cilantro, Mexican oregano, lots of lime wedges, and
ground up chile pequin. The pequin is a hot lil' chile so this is how
you moderate your heat for the menudo. Plus it tastes good! Add a bit,
more if you think it needs it.
A bowl of menudo, ready to eat. Of course, make sure to have some warm
tortillas de maiz on hand as well.
This is a really great dish. It's savory, spicy, and satisfying. If I
lose my job I think I'm just going to go around selling hot veggie
menudo, too many people think this is an impossible dish to
replicate. As you can see, and you will soon taste, it plainly isn't.
And since you're not cooking down all those tough animal parts, this is
actually fairly quick to prepare. And look, I've just given you my
secret recipe, at no cost. (Uhh, my recipe that isn't a recipe.) Damn, 2010 is starting to look awesome already!
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