Saturday, October 1, 2011


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Vegan "Finnan Haddie"
This is one of my favorite dishes from my new book, World Vegan Feast. It's called Finnan Haddie and, odd as it may seem, the fishy version of this, made with smoked haddock, was a winter favorite of mine when I was a kid.  I have many, many food memories (interesting food was important to me at an early age), and one memory in particular is of being served this stew on a chilly winter night at the home of our friend Rosie, who lived on a beautiful, funky homestead near Felton, CA (close to Santa Cruz).  I still go back to Rosie's house in my mind when I eat this stew.  

I have to digress here:
Rosie was born in 1910 and was the daughter of refugees from the Armenian genocide. She was one of the most free-thinking and fascinating people I've ever known.  She was a little older than my mom, but they stayed friends all of their lives.  They met through my mom's sister, Jonnie.  Jonnie and Rosie worked in the San Francisco shipyards during WWII. (I don't know whether or not Rosie was a riveter, but my Aunt Jonnie was a rivet-catcher.) 

 My mom, Eve Tonge Urbina, on the L, Rosie in the middle, and my Aunt Jonnie (Jeanette) Tonge Rankin (Summer 1943, San Francisco)

Rosie built her house pretty much by herself, sometimes with the help of my young uncle Kenny and his friend Dalny.  Dalny was the son of another old family friend, Gene Travaglio, an Italian anarchist printer whose wife Esther was another close friend of my mother's (obviously, I have some interesting family memories, too!)-- you can read a little about Esther and Gene here.  I remember them as very kind older people.

Anyway, back to the stew! My mother made it according to her Grandmother Marie Colwell's recipe-- the Colwells were of Scottish ancestry.  Finnan Haddie is actually the term for a form of smoked haddock, named for the Aberdeen fishing village of FindonScotland (near Aberdeen)-- locally pronounced "Finnan". The haddock was cold-smoked over peat and was evidently more tender than the usual stiff, hard smoke-dried fish. Finnan Haddie was often served poached in milk for breakfast, which I assume was the origin of this type of recipe. 

As a young girl, I found this stew tremendously comforting on a winter night and I was quite thrilled when I was able to devise a vegan version that I found just as satisfying.
Soya Nova Smoked Tofu
NOTE: Be sure to use a brand of smoked tofu with plenty of smoked flavor.  There are some out there that are pretty tasteless, so do some taste tests!  I use this Canadian product:

Printable Copy

BRYANNA’S VEGAN CREAMED "FINNAN HADDIE" (Milky Smoked Tofu Stew with Potatoes and Onions) 
Serves 6

4 cups creamy non-dairy milk (I use Silk Original soy milk)
2 Tbs chicken-style veggie broth powder or paste (Better than Bouillon No-Chicken vegan broth paste is delicious!)
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp liquid smoke 
(see this post for info about this ingredient)
1 long piece konbu seaweed 
2 bay leaves 
2 medium onions, thinly sliced 
8 medium thin-skinned potatoes, peeled if you wish, and quartered 
450 g (about 1 lb.) smoked tofu, thinly sliced (Use a smoked tofu that has a really smoky flavor-- s
ee NOTE above)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste 
chopped fresh parsley for garnish 

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large shallow pot. Add the konbu, bay leaf, onion, potato and tofu. 

Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer, covered until the potato is tender. (The milk will have thickened into a sauce.) 

Remove from heat, taste for salt and add plenty of pepper. Remove the konbu and sprinkle with chopped parsley. The stew is further enriched by adding a pat of vegan butter to each serving, but I leave this to your discretion. Serve in bowls. 

Nutrition Facts 
Nutrition (per serving): 
291.4 calories; 19% calories from fat; 6.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 951.4mg sodium; 1246.9mg potassium; 43.1g carbohydrates; 5.1g fiber; 6.3g sugar; 37.9g net carbs; 18.3g protein; 5.5 points. 



Becky said...

Your mom and aunt were gorgeous (and Rosie too). Would we all be as gorgeous if we dressed like that? :) The stew looks wonderful. Any suggestions for smoked tofu in the US that's good? I've never bought any.

Brenda W. said...

What a delightful blog post, Bryanna!! I can just feel all the wonderful memories and love that is part of your family history. (Your next book should be a story about your family ... the bits and pieces you've shared here on your blog are all so fascinating!)

And I agree with Becky ... those 3 women are gorgeous!!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Becky, I just added some brand names and websites to the post.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Brenda, thanks for posting-- I have been thinking about you lately. I'll email you and we'll catch up!

Anonymous said...

How interesting Bryanna. My direct decendants lived in Findon in the 1800s. I think they were the only occupants of Findon at one stage.
I feel obligated to try out the vegan version of this recipe as I think it would be wonderful comfort food.

Jen Treehugger said...

What an incredibly exciting recipe! And I have smoked tofu sitting in my fridge - I'll take it as a sign.
Happy MoFo'ing

Kristen said...

Beautiful photos, and I'm so excited to try this recipe! One of my favorite foods as a child was my Grandmother's Fish Stew, a Scottish recipe. And as a teenager, a very similar fish casserole made by a Swedish friend. Maybe you've provided the vegan access to those taste memories. Thanks so much!

Vegiegail said...

What wonderful childhood memories you have! I will surely be thinking of you and of Rosie when I make this dish.

Phlat said...

Are you still smoking your own tofu? I think you've mentioned 2 different stovetop smokers on the blog. It looked like an easy and tasty thing to do whilst at other tasks, so I was considering acquiring one. If you no longer do so, do you have a reason you've stopped? If this seems rather nosy, you needn't respond.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

That's okay, Phlat! I don't always make my own smoked tofu, but I pull out the smoker and make a few batches of smoked tofu, mushrooms, potatoes, etc. when I feel like it. The smoker is easy to store and easy to use. But you need a stove fan or else you must open some windows!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

PS: My homemade recipe for smoked tofu on this blog is a little too sweet to use in this recipe, though, if I cut the maple syrup down to maybe a tablespoon, it would work, I think.

Phlat said...

Smoked mushrooms? Are you the inventor? What varieties have you smoked? How do you use them after? Like a smoked oyster from a tin? Pray tell. I've got a few little mushrooms in the fridge wearing only bath towels, ready to sweat it out in a hot smoke box.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

No, I'm not the inventor! They are delicious! You could use them like smoked oysters, or throw them into stews, stir-fries, braises, etc.