Saturday, November 17, 2012

Carnitas Sandwiches (vegan)

This recipe is from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Recipe: see page 129 of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
This closes out my week on the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day Blog Tour, the new cookbook from Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen, but the tour will continue on for the next two weeks.

You can see a lot of photos related to the book and blog tour on the  Pinterest board for Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day that I set up. I will be adding to it in the future as I continue to find available photos to pin and as I make recipes from this book.

Traditional carnitas are made from pork. The translation of carnitas to English means 'little meats'. Look at that. This recipe really does look like pulled pork, but... it is made from canned young green jackfruit.

I discovered canned young green jackfruit earlier this year when I was reading about the famous jackfruit tacos on the Seabirds food truck here in Orange County, California. I tried making my own version and they never turned out very well.

So I was excited to see this recipe in Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day, and as I read it, it became apparent to me what I was doing wrong. I was pulling the jackfruit apart and frying it and adding some spices. In this recipe it is cooked and marinated before going into a skillet. That makes a lot of difference, and gives it a much better flavor throughout.

BTW, make sure you use 'canned young green jackfruit'. You DON'T want fresh jackfruit. I have read this is extremely pungent. Canned may be the only way to find green jackfruit in the United States, and it is preferred in recipes like this because it is odorless and tasteless. The flavor will come from the spices and marinades that are used in its preparation. I found it here in Southern California at the 99 Ranch grocery stores.

The carnitas have a strong citrus taste that comes from the orange juice and lime juice. They are also a little sweet from the brown rice syrup. The sandwich also includes a layer of guacamole and 'chili creme'. The creme is based on silken tofu, lime juice and cilantro and packs a lot of flavor.

I've only made 8 recipes from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, so I'm not going to pretend to review it, but I will tell you the three things I find most impressive about the book.

First is the sauces. The four recipes I've made that have had dip, sauce, creme, dressing, or spread, etc in them have all been outstanding. A lot of intensity. I keep wondering what the shelf life of these are because I just want to keep them around in the fridge for general use. I'm hoping at some point Tami and Celine will do a book just on sauces, etc.

The second most impressive thing about this book is the number of color photos. The book features 55 full color photos of the recipes. These aren't generic stock photos, these are Celine's photos, shot for this book to illustrate these recipes. As far as I can tell that was a record at the time this book was published two months ago. It appears the new book Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread by Jennifer Katzinger has photos of every recipe, as does the recently published Very Vegan Christmas Cookies by Ellen Brown.

Fair Wind Press is publishing this book. They also did last years The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester, which had 40 full color recipe photos. Historically, most vegan cookbooks have been low-budget productions, so this is pretty ambitious. I hope Fair Wind keeps this up, and I hope it raises the bar for some of the other publishers.

The third most impressive thing about this book relates to the very first thought I had after I received it and flipped through the pages..... "I could open my own vegan sandwich shop and use this book for all the recipes".  (BTW, secretly there are 3 fantasy businesses most men want to own. A bar, a driving range, or a sandwich shop).

I shied away from buying this book because I was expecting it to be too basic. Like what could the authors tell me about a sandwich? I know how to spread mustard and cut tomatoes and lettuce. This book goes far beyond. I keep using the word ambitious, but it is appropriate.

I won't be doing any more posts until after Thanksgiving, but when I'm back I want to continue with a few recipes I'm really interested in, but didn't have time to make for the blog tour this week, like the North End Grinder, the German-inspired Bierocks, the Unfishwich, the Retro KFC-Style Sandwich, the Party Monster, and the Dagwood Special.

(for carnitas) canned jackfruit, orange juice, onion powder, garlic, lime juice, tamari, hot sauce, dried cilantro, cumin, brown rice syrup, olive oil, shallot.

(for chili creme) silken tofu, olive oil, lime juice, sea salt, onion powder, fresh cilantro. 

(for sandwiches) guacamole, sandwich  rolls.