Pinangat or Pangat is a Filipino fish stew I’d like to refer as “poor man’s food” because of its simplicity yet nourishing effects.
Growing up near a beach and a fisherman’s market, my mom would always serve Pinangat for breakfast. Some Pinangat versions call for Calamansi or Filipino citrus, others call for coconut milk. I grew up eating the latter.
While some folks say they understand why I don’t eat meat, they don’t get why I’m also banning fish. I believe that fish are not seafood, they’re marine life. Creatures in the ocean have enough predators to keep a healthy ecosystem, let’s not mess it up.
But when I do miss my Pinangat, what does a vegan Filipina got to do? Create her own authentic version!
I say “authentic” because I believe Filipinos don’t eat meat for the sake of eating meat, we eat it because of its distinct texture, flavor, and fat. Actually that goes for all cuisines-as what I learned from vegan chef, Tal Ronnen.
So if I’m able to execute all those three: texture, flavor, and fat, then the recipe will be just as the same and authentic as what I grew up eating. Authentic as in it’ll bring you back “home”. The problem with ready made alternative meat sometimes is that it has its own flavor. So while it tastes good, it doesn’t necessarily taste “authentic”.
So for this Pinangat recipe, I opted to create my vegan “fish” from scratch.
My technique was inspired by another vegan Filipina, Nona Lema, who published a cookbook called “Gulay“. I don’t remember her exact steps but I remember her incorporating coconut shreds as the “fish flakes” and steaming it.
Her recipe uses coconut milk and instead of wrapping it in seaweed, it calls for some kind of leaves like Banana leaves (the name escapes me).
So without further ado, here’s my take on Vegan Pinangat:
- 1 vegetable buillon (or if using liquid vegetable broth, use 2 cups vegetable broth & 2 cups water)
- 4 roma tomatoes, cut in 4 (big chunks)
- 4 long dried Wakame pieces
- 2 tablespoon Flax oil
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or refined coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons Calamansi juice
- 4 cups water (2 cups if using liquid vegetable broth)
- Add the water and vegetable buillon/broth to a medium pot steamer.
- Simmer for about 5 minutes then add the tomatoes, wakame, and oil.
- Wait until it’s boiling, pour the calamansi juice, mix, then add the steamer on top.
- Steam the vegan fish to infuse the flavors of the broth (see below for the recipe)
- Steam for about 10 minutes each side.
- Combine the wrap and broth when ready to serve.
The wrap wouldn’t break apart for awhile but it would disintegrate if left in the broth let’s say for more than four hours. It’s best to combine only when it’s ready to serve.
- 1 pack extra firm tofu
- 1 pack Nori seaweed wrap
- 1/2 cup fresh coconut flakes
- sea salt
- On a seaweed wrap, put two thin slices of firm tofu.
- Spread about a tbsp of coconut shred on one of the tofu then sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt.
- Combine the two tofu like a sandwich
- Wrap it with the nori seaweed sheet.
- Add to the medium steamer for flavor infusion.
The firm tofu will have the same texture as the fish while the coconut shreds will serve as the fish “flakes”, the nori seaweed will give the distinct “sea taste”, and the sea salt will give the slight “sea saltiness”.
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