For the non-Australian reader, believe me, that title is hilarious. Just so you know.
Ah, vegetarians: the barbeque pariahs. Centre stage at a good old Aussie bbq are fat pork sausages in bread with tomato sauce, chicken skewers with Moroccan seasoning and of course…the piece-de-resistance…the 400gm T-Bone. Well I for one intend to rally against it! Or at least at the next bbq eat my side salad very moodily.
For as long as I’ve been a vego I’ve always felt a little left out at bbqs. Vegetarian fare is often relegated to the ‘side dish’ space and it totally sucks because I have a weakness for all things char grilled (meat excluded of course).
This is where my amazingly wonderful family-away-from-family come in. And they never fail to embrace the vego and never ever fail to impress in the food department.
Dario and I have only been Canberra residents for a few years. It’s a pretty transient place with a notable portion of the population originating somewhere other than Canberra.
As we are away from home, for us and for many it means that you find yourselves adopting another family. And boy do we have a good one! Our feelings about this have become even stronger after having Raffaella – having people around to show your kid what love is all about is, in my books, essential.
So what does this have to do with bbqs? For me, bbqs are synonymous with family gatherings. As kids, the Sunday arvo barbie on the beach or in the park was as common for us as a commoner in Commonsville. On a side note, it’s fascinating too that you can pretty much arrive at any public park across Australia and there will be a 95 percent chance that it will be equipped with one or more free or very low cost public bbqs. We have just come to expect it.
And our most recent bbq was an example of why I love our Canberra family so much. When I sent the email invite out I considered requesting a meat-free event – let the revolution begin! According to Dario this was apparently ridiculous, so instead we went with ‘a minimal amount of animal-origin fare’. But that part of the email was super-moody I swear. The result was a table lovingly donned with all things plant-based. Quinoa salad, zucchini and funnel chanterelles, chocolate cake, satay on vege skewers, and strawberry tart. God I love these people.
And one member of the family has so generously shared their own recipe. And let me tell you, we are in the presence of greatness. I’m in the process of getting this guy to work with me on a more extravagant post but for now you will have to be content with this totally delicious teaser.
Chargrilled Vege Skewers with Mango Satay
2 tsp toasted Cumin seeds
1 tsp toasted Coriander seeds
1 – 2 sticks of lemongrass
350g raw peanuts
a good handful of coriander leaves
3 small dried chillis
3 – 8 large fresh red chillis
1 inch knob of ginger
1 spring onion
3 cloves of garlic
juice and zest of 3 limes
½ a french (red) shallot
¼ white onion
2 tomatoes (peeled is best, but with skins is fine if you can’t be bothered)
½ a mango
1 270ml tin coconut cream
2 – 4 tsp of soy sauce
You can really go two ways with this, you can take the traditional route and use a mortar and pestle or you can put it all in a blender or food processor. Using a mortar and pestle will take longer and make lots of mess but will give you a better flavour in the end. Crushing and grinding will usually get you quite a bit more flavour as it releases a lot more of the juicy, oily goodness from ingredients like these. You will also end up with a slightly different, perhaps more rustic texture in the finished product. Using a food processor will also give a great flavour, however and is much quicker and easier. Both methods give wonderful results, it just comes down to how much time you have and how messy you want it to get.
If using a mortar and pestle, add the ingredients one at a time in the order they’re listed, grinding them before adding the next. The idea is to start with the driest ingredients moving onto the more fibrous. This works really well as the dry ingredients are rough and course and help you tear up the fibres in the next lot. Keep adding the rest one at a time, progressively moving through to the wettest ingredients. You want to end up with a slightly crunchy, fairly liquid paste.
If you’re using a food processor or blender, just throw all the ingredients in and pulse slowly. The key here is to keep an eye on the consistency. You don’t want it pureed as the small chunks give it its satisfying texture. You also want to make sure it doesn’t turn into peanut butter, so add some water if it’s getting too gluggy and thick.
Heat a large frying pan at a low-medium heat with just a dash of peanut oil, and when warm add the paste. You want to slowly fry the paste which will draw out all the oil in the peanuts and develop the flavours. Fry until all the paste has changed colour into a darker, more shiny brown. You should also start to see a film of ‘flavour’ start to form on the top. Depending on your pan this could take from 10 – 30 minutes.
Finally pour over chargrilled skewers of mushroom and zucchini, or a fresh salad of tofu, fresh carrots, green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Garnish with beansprouts and sprigs of coriander.