Monday, June 19, 2017


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It's been a long time since I last blogged.  I guess I just needed a break.  I'm happy to say that some inspiration is returning and I've been playing around with veganizing some more Peruvian recipes.  (In case you're new here, my father was Peruvian and I still have family there.)

My Abuelita's (Grandmother) house in Miraflores, Lima (it is now a restaurant).

My late father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina
The Urbina Family in Lima, Christmas 1954; Abuelita in the center, my father in the back row on the far right, standing behind my mother; my sister Karin on the far right in the first row, on the floor; and I am just behind one of my little cousins, who is third from the left on the floor.

Peruvian food is delicious and colorful.  It is a heady mixture of the cooking and foodstuffs of the indigenous people, the invading Spanish, African slaves, and immigrant from Italy (the second largest European group in Peru after Spanish), China and Japan.  I've veganized a number of Peruvian recipes on this blog and in workshops, but still have a long list to get through. (If you type "Peru" in the search bar of this blog, all of my Peruvian food posts will come up.)

Sometimes it can be difficult to find Peruvian ingredients outside of large cities, so it's not unusual for me I have to improvise, while striving to preserve authentic flavor. (I live on a little island off of Vancouver Island on the West Coast of British Columbia.) I do my best and try to stock up on authentic Peruvian condiments, etc. when I make one of our infrequent trips to Vancouver.  

Anyway, on to the recipe! Peruvians love seafood, and the following recipe is a vegan version of a well-known and popular Peruvian rice and seafood dish.  (Rice was brought to Peru by the Spanish, by the way, and is served at almost every meal, often in the company of the indigenous potato!)  I hope you enjoy it!

Printable Copy


Serves 4
This makes a satisfying light supper on its own, or an excellent side dish for a more elaborate meal. I use less fat than they would in Peru, by the way.

1-2 tablespoon olive oil and/or vegan butter

about 24 vegan "scallops"-- made from mushrooms (see below), tofu or gluten-based "Sea Meat" **(See below recipe for making mushroom scallops; see this page for how to make tofu scallops, and see this page for how to make my "Sea Meat" scallops.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons Peruvian aji amarillo paste (See Notes at end of recipe for where to purchase and also a possible substitute.)
1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels (In Peru these would be large white kernels, but I use North American yellow corn kernels.)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
1 cup thawed frozen green peas (or thawed shelled frozen edamame [green soybeans])
2 cups "Sea Stock" (vegan "seafood" broth-- see recipe below)
1/2 cup dry white wine, OR 1/4 cup Pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) or dry sherry
3 cups cooked long-grain rice (I prefer  converted/parboiled rice, but you can use a long grain white rice such as basmati)
1 cup EACH diced red bell pepper and orange bell pepper
salt to taste
For Serving:
chopped fresh cilantro, or Italian parsley, or a mixture of mint and basil
lemon or lime wedges

First of all, heat the vegan butter and/or oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet.  Add the "scallops" and saute until they are lightly browned.  Remove the "scallops" from the pan and set aside.

Add the next 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened.  Stir in the aji amarillo paste (or substitute).  Add the diced carrots, peas, wine and "Sea Stock". Cook, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is somewhat reduced.  

Add the cooked rice and the diced peppers.  Toss well and keep cooking, uncovered and stirring now and then, until the rice has soaked up some of the liquid. Taste for salt and add as necessary.  Stir in the sauteed "scallops".  Heat briefly and serve sprinkled with cilantro or alternates, with wedges of lemon or lime to squirt over the rice as desired.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 400 calories, 101 calories from fat, 11.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 423.6mg sodium, 729.9mg potassium, 62.5g carbohydrates, 6.9g fiber, 11.1g sugar, 10.5g protein, 11.8 points.


You can use my Tofu "Scallops" (recipe at this link), or my "Sea Meat" (gluten-based) "Scallops", recipe at this link), 

or "Mushroom Scallops":

Making "Mushroom Scallops":

Many recipes these days call for using thick slices of stems of King Oyster mushrooms  or King Trumpet mushrooms.  They are expensive and very hard to find where I live, so this is what I do:
I use large ordinary white mushroom caps, or even cremini mushrooms, stemmed, and cut out rounds with a small biscuit cutter. (PS: I use the scraps for mushroom soup.)

Then scrape off  the gills with a grapefruit spoon.

And peel off the brown skin (if you are using cremini mushrooms) with your fingernails (it comes off easily).

Aji Amarillo (the dried version of aji amarillo/Peruvian yellow pepper is often called aji mirasol):

In the USA you can purchase Aji Amarillo Paste in many Latin American food stores, or online Latin American food purveyors, or on
In Canada, it's overpriced on, but, if you live in a large city you can probably find a Latin American food store that carries it, or order it online from this Vancouver store chain.  
A substitute might be a Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce mixed with pureed roasted large yellow bell peppers (Scotch bonnets are "fruity" like aji amarillo, but much higher on the heat scale!)


Yield: 4 cups
This is a handy recipe for vegan “sea-meat” recipes.

6 cups hot water

10 medium dried shiitake or Chinese black forest mushrooms
1/2 oz dried kombu seaweed
2 teaspoons light miso
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetarian “oyster” sauce (see recipe and info on commercial brands below)
1 teaspoon salt

Simmer the mushrooms and kombu, covered, in the water for 30 minutes. Strain in a colander. Save the mushrooms for another dish, if you like. Discard the kombu. Stir in the miso, vegetarian “oyster” sauce, and salt. Dissolve thoroughly. Strain through a fine sieve. Refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per 1/2 cup): 18.6 calories; 6% calories from fat; 0.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 318.5mg sodium; 75.3mg potassium; 4.3g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 1.5g sugar; 0.7g protein ; 0.3 points.

Chinese oyster sauce is a favorite flavoring, thick, rich-tasting, and slightly sweet. I use the vegan version frequently to coat plain tofu for use in stir-fries and fried dishes instead of chicken, and, of course, it’s essential in some Chinese dishes. As well, it can add rich flavor to homemade seitan/grain meat. If you can’t buy it, it’s easy to make a very acceptable substitute (see below).

You can find commercial vegetarian versions, made with mushrooms, in some Asian groceries and large supermarkets (and online, including at amazon). Sometimes it is labeled “vegetarian oyster sauce” or “mushroom oyster sauce". It is also marketed as “vegetarian stir-fry sauce” (Lee Kum Kee brand-- a very common one). It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator. However, it can be difficult for people in some areas to find, so I am giving you a recipe for a homemade version.


Makes 18 liquid oz., or about the same as a commercial bottle

NOTE ON MUSHROOMS: For the dried mushrooms, you don’t need expensive shiitakes—just use the inexpensive dried Chinese mushrooms (or Chinese forest mushrooms) that are easily available. Snap off the stems and discard them, then grind the mushrooms to a powder in a DRY, clean blender or coffee/spice grinder.

1 1/2 cups boiling water

6 tablespoons ground dried Chinese mushroom (see note above)
6 tablespoons Chinese brown bean sauce or paste
OR use 5 tablespoons mild brown miso + 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 generous tablespoons brown sugar,
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in
1 tablespoon cold water

Blend all of the ingredients EXCEPT the dissolved cornstarch in a blender until as smooth as possible. Pour into in a medium saucepan and heat to boiling over high heat.  (IMPORTANT: leave the plastic cap out of the center hole in the blender lid and cover it with a folded towel, so that the hot liquid doesn’t explode.) Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir until thickened. Cool and store in a covered jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Since it is quite salty and sweet, it should keep for several months.

NOTE: You can, alternatively, microwave the mixture, with the cornstarch, in a medium bowl and cook on 100% power for about 1 minute, then whisk. Repeat until thickened and store as above.