Vegan Mexican Pozole
A gastronomical tour of the United States of Mexico
As a vegan, one of the biggest challenges I have experienced is getting out of my culinary comfort zone while traveling. I always want to experience the whole culture, yet maintain my lifestyle. In most cases, it is quite tricky to do both. Although veganism is growing worldwide, it is not always compatible with the traditions of a given destination.
Today I’m sharing an interview with Alfonso Avalos, a Mexican chef who, although not a vegan, enjoys and recognizes how delicious vegan dishes can be. He is a food lover and enjoys tackling any culinary challenge that presents itself.
Alfonso invited me to eat at his house so we could talk. One of the things that stands out about him is his commitment to satisfy all of his clients. This has motivated him to research many different diets and lifestyles, such as veganism. What’s more, since he loves traditional food, this ingenious chef has been devoting part of his time to transforming some of the best traditional Mexican recipes into vegan ones, maintaining the essential flavors of the dishes. This way, dietary limitations do not apply, and all visitors can enjoy the culinary culture of Mexico.
During my visit to Alfonso’s home, I was able to enjoy a few of his many innovative proposals. Today I will share the traditional and vegan version of one of the most famous and delicious dishes of traditional Mexican cuisine: pozole, a soup made with pork broth.
For this chef, it is complete madness to come to Mexico and leave without trying this delicious dish, so he has transformed the recipe for the vegan and vegetarian world to enjoy.
Traditional pozole is a soup made with pork broth, prepared specifically from the lean meat of the pork’s head, which provides the most fabulous flavor. It was fascinating to discover the vegan version of the recipe, since I would never have imagined the ingredients that Alfonso used to substitute the intense flavor of the pork.
Alfonso’s vegan pozole broth requires three magical ingredients: about 150g of dehydrated Shiitake mushrooms (an ingredient that I loved in this soup), 100g of white miso, and 30g of sauerkraut (fermented cole).
Miso and sauerkraut are the ingredients that generate the key flavor of pozole, in this case. Shitake dehydrated mushrooms may not be the most influential ingredient in the broth (although they do give it a unique taste), but it is a protein source, and it unfolds a flavor in the mouth that is an authentic and delicious voyage into this dish.
The next step in this recipe is to add the vegetables, which are the same in both recipes: onion, garlic, leek, and celery. These can be added into the soup as soon as you start cooking.
Then, it’s time for the chiles. Two types are used: dehydrated chile ancho (in its fresh form is called poblano) and dehydrated guajillo chile (in its fresh form it is called mirasol or ají amarillo).
In both the traditional and vegan versions, you can play with the intensity of spiciness and flavor. Keep in mind: the more profound the flavor, the less spicy the soup; the spicier the soup, the less profound the flavor.
To incorporate the chiles, you can remove the seeds and veins to decrease the spiciness without sacrificing flavor. For Alfonso, this was the perfect option for the vegan recipe he wanted to prepare. However, the fun of it is that you can decide freely, and if you prefer a spicier soup, then you just have to leave some of the seeds and veins in your chiles.
The garnish that accompanies this soup delight is nothing a simple salad of finely chopped lettuce, radishes, onions, cilantro, a touch of spice, and dried oregano. This garnish is ideal for both traditional and vegan recipes.
Here we finish this tasty and creative interview with the great and wonderful friend and chef, Sir Alfonso Avalos, who introduced me to a valuable traditional recipe from Mexico.
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