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Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011, 09:38 pm
The rat can cook: Marko's Jambalaya

Although it seems to offend some furries, ristin and I enjoy vegetarian meals a few times a week. Also, I have a great love of American cooking, which is where a book like Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson comes in handy. This is very much an American cookbook and should have been marketed as such here; most of the recipes involve ingredients that are unheard of here and all of the measurements are in Imperial. Nonetheless, I've done my best to adapt the recipes for Australian conditions, and one that came out particularly well is Marko's Jambalaya. (It was originally called Veggie Jambalaya but any jambalaya worth its salt has to have chorizo sausage in it.) But I can't leave you this recipe without making a few observations about its ingredients:

Black-eyed peas: Other than a band, what are black-eyed peas? I've never seen them in the shops but I haven't yet given up hope of finding them in Australia. I replaced them with chickpeas and was very satisfied with the result.

Filé powder: I searched for this extensively online and came to the conclusion that the only way I can get this in Australia is by begging a friend to mail it to me (but see below under Old Bay Seasoning). It is only through the kindness of guma_kawauso and rally_fox that I have any hope of including this, but I know jambalaya isn't authentic without it.

Old Bay Seasoning: This actually is illegal in Australia. Not content to let market forces keep American ingredients out of this country, my nanny state had to go to the trouble of outlawing it. Not wanting to break the law, my only hope was to find a substitute: Bay Seasoning. (In looking this up, I found Gourmet Shopper also stocks filé powder, which I had missed in my searches earlier. Clearly what I said above was incorrect, but my gratitude to Guma and Rally still stands.) EDIT: It seems my information about quarantine may be out of date and you can actually get this by mail order here now.

Vegetarian sausage links: The original recipe called for vegetarian sausage links, but I couldn't insult a jambalaya like that. I'm a great fan of vegetarian cooking, but this kind of ingredient gives it a bad name, affirming the stereotype that you need meat substitutes to have a satisfying meal. In this case though, you can't have a jambalaya without Spanish chorizo sausages. Rats are proudly omnivorous!

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 11:53 am (UTC)

Sounds good! I really need a proper crockpot. :) (tugrik recommended this one to me a while back, but it's really too expensive for me, alas. But then, they don't ship outside of the USA, anyway, and it seems you can't buy it locally, either.)

Wed, Oct. 19th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)

You could always ask an American friend to mail it to you, but the cost of shipping! What makes this crock pot so good anyway?

Wed, Oct. 19th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)

I'm not sure; you'd have to ask tugrik. I know he's someone who researches his options before committing himself to buying anything, so I trust it is a good one, though.

Yeah, I probably could have someone pass it on to me, but given its size and weight, that'd likely cost a lot itself, as you say; I'd expect a low three-digit amount for that (with insurance/tracking), and I'd have to pay customs on top of it as well (small items do slip through, presumably because customs figure that they're not worth the effort, but large ones will get charged). So it's just not worth it.

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 12:08 pm (UTC)

Black eyed pea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-eyed_pea

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)

I know I could look it up on Wikipedia, but I like to ask on LJ for some local flavour, if you'll pardon the pun.
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Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)

I'll go along with this, yes. Not that I cook vegetarian often, I'll admit, but good ingredients deserve due respect, whatever their nature. (That said, I did use some particular fake ground beef whose name I forget, making a thoroughly respectable chilli. And Quorn's burgers are, whilst completely unconvincing, rather nomworthy nonetheless - and quite high in fiber, too!)

As for this recipe, I'd personally be inclined to add quite a bit more garlic - but then, garlic is the stuff of the gods. =:9

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)

VIVA LA CARNIVORE!!! *omnomnomnom*

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)

I thought andouille sausage was more authentic in a jambalaya? But, to be honest, I've not tasted that because I've never found any. And heaven help me if Rally ever found out how that sausage is made...

As for the use of chickpeas for black eyes, it sounds passable enough, but I was under the assumption that the chickpeas are very light in flavor. The peas are light as well, but their flavor is a bit distinctive. But I'm glad that worked out.

We are both glad to have helped. I suppose filé is being allowed more since that whole precursor to cancer proved to be a dud. I'd wager you can't send the tree though. With the soil and weather on the East coast, the plant might become invasive... delicious, yet invasive.

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)

I loved the sassafras tea you gave me! I wonder if T2 would have any? It's a long shot, but worth checking.

I've only seen jambalaya with chorizo, but that could be because andouille is hard to get, even over there. Why would it be a problem if Rally finds out how the sausage is made?

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)

Every recipe I've ever seen calls for andouille, which as far as I can tell is the traditional sausage put into jambalaya.

I live on the bank of the Mississippi, so Cajun food is easy to find.
Not as easy as it is down South, but easier than most of the US.


Edited at 2011-10-17 09:07 pm (UTC)

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)

You have to remember, I live quite a sheltered life here in Australia. :) I will have to see if I can find andouille sausage then, but considering the trouble I've had with other ingredients, I'm not very hopeful. :/

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)

Poor rat. :(

You and Ristin come visit, and we'll go get some ingredients and make a proper 3 pot Cajun dinner together. It's a little known fact that I can cook when the mood strikes me. ;)

Or, if you prefer, we can go to a nice little bar/restaurant a few miles out of town whose owner learned to cook in New Orleans.

Tue, Oct. 18th, 2011 08:32 am (UTC)

Aww I'd love that! Thank you! (Both being cooked for and being taken to the little bar.) As much as I enjoy cooking, I love being cooked for even more.

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)

Some varieties of Andouille sausage are made using the entire gastrointestinal tract of the pig...

Tue, Oct. 18th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)

He refuses to eat offal (something that's common in US dietary practice), and the sausage is made with the whole digestive tract. He's also not at all someone who likes natural casings.

As fro the tea, you can ask. If they don't have it, maybe they can order it? But if it's Pappy's Sassafras, don't even bother. What you want is basically dried roots of the plant. You then strip the bark and steep it.
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Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)

Ah, well, I can answe this. Back in the 60s of 70s (can't remember when) Sassafras (the plant from which file comes from) was tested on lab rats. There were precursors of carcinogenic chemicals present in the urine. Based of this single study with scant research, the US banned products made with sassafras containing the chemical safrole (present in file). Most of the world followed suit as well.

However, recent and further research suggests that the previous research was flawed. It only tested rats, not humans, and none of the rats developed cancer after testing. Within the last few years countries have relaxed their ban on the product. However, soft drinks and candy companies have not re-introduced the chemical (it was a flavoring in rootbeer), and instead use Wintergreen, which oddly enough is more toxic. X3

Mon, Oct. 17th, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)

It's important to note, that in lab tests, the rats did develop liver problems, but only after extremely large doses of the chemical. Problems were similar to cirrhosis, which of course is cause by drinking. But another fact is that anything in excess will kill you. For a person to become ill from safrole, they would need to ingest a close to a whole forest. If your stomach or bladder doesn't rupture at that point... then you probably might fall ill. In nature, many animals feed on the sassafras plant, which include deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and swallowtails.

Lastly, safrole is supposedly a clandestine precursor to MDMA.
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