If you love Filipino Food, then Dinuguan needs no explanation or justification on why it’s soo good despite its appearance. But if you’re not familiar with Filipino Food, then chances are you might get grossed out by its original black color.
Basically, Dinuguan is a pork blood stew consisting of pig parts that taste surprisingly delectable and delicious. I’ve recently learned that Dinuguan came from a Spanish influence, an adaptation of their blood stews and meat-heavy dishes (Spain colonized the Philippines and left a heavy mark in Filipino (food) culture). So I guess it’s technically false that the use of blood stews originated in the Philippines. In any case, any non-vegan Filipino who grew up in the Philippines would know, Dinuguan tastes amazing.
The problem is, not only Dinuguan defines the absolute opposite of cruelty-free, it’s also highly unhealthy. With all the fats, cholesterol, and sugar, Dinuguan is one expensive dish (because of trips to the hospital later in life). So, to put a creative spin to a Filipino favorite, I’m veganizing it and making it healthier-without all the bad stuff! It’s “Filipino mom-approved” so I’m proud to say it’ll produce the same taste and flavor.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 2 cups or 1 block of extra firm tofu, chopped
- 1 cup or 8 oz. oyster mushroom, chopped
- 1 cup or 8 oz. gluten cake, chopped (available at most Asian stores) (or seitan is ok too)
- 2 vegetable bullion or 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup palm sugar (organic if possible) (brown sugar or turbinado sugar is good too)
- 6 tbsp. vegan butter or olive oil
- 2-3 whole serrano pepper
- pinch of salt
- pinch of ground black pepper
- 2 cups black beans (either soaked overnight and cooked to soften, or the ready canned ones)
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 chunk or 2 tbsp. of dark chocolate bar (I got 70% dark, make sure it’s fair trade ).
HOW TO MAKE IT:
- Using a high performance blender, puree the black beans with water. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, fry the tofu. Set aside.
- Using the same pan you fried the tofu on, fry the gluten cake for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle some sugar and salt to the gluten cake. Fry for another 30 seconds. Set aside.
- In a medium size pot, saute the garlic and onion with oil until fragrant.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar. Simmer for about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the fried tofu and wheat gluten cake to the mixture.
- Pour the black beans to the pot. Mix well.
- Mix in the vegan butter or olive oil, vegetable broth, and dark chocolate to the mixture. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning to taste. (vinegar or dark chocolate or sugar or oil, etc.)
- Add the serrano peppers.
- Simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Serve with rice or rice cake (puto) on the side.
Feel free to cook the tofu and gluten cake before you start or while you’re simultaneously sauteing the oyster mushrooms and spices. You may also adjust the seasoning towards the end to achieve the perfect balance of sour-sweet-savory with the rich, creamy taste of the sauce. My uncle, who makes the perfect pot of Dinuguan, makes his recipe a little on the sweet side so I’d like to add more sugar towards the final simmer.
By the way, shout out to my friend TJ who suggested to incorporate dark chocolate! And of course, a special thank you to my mom who meticulously critiqued my dish and offered priceless advice veganizing Dinuguan- which I’m now sharing with you. Enjoy!