Next week, friends, Mr J-M and I will board a plane to Oslo and we’ll both visit Norway for the first time. When I’m getting in the mood for a holiday I’ll often try to recreate some of the country’s traditional dishes; this wasn’t too tough for Spain, say, but Norway’s cuisine seems to be (unsurprisingly given its geography) rather fish-centric. Since Mr J-M is quite fond of a chowder, I decided to attempt a veganized fiskesuppe – a creamy, smoky, milky soup usually made with root vegetables and big chunks of fish. It’s generally not seasoned with much other than salt and pepper, and maybe a little dill.
So I thought and thought, and my beloved PPK group came up with some great ideas for replacing the seafood, but Manchester city centre was entirely devoid of hearts of palm and so I decided to grab some organic smoked tofu and lots of oyster and chunky chestnut mushrooms and take it from there.
Having never sampled a fishy chowder in my pregan days, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Mr J-M gobbled the lot and assured me that it’s a very acceptable substitute and hits the right notes of smoky, fishy, and chowdery. The smoked tofu is kind of a must, as it takes the place of chunks of smoked fish. The veg can be substituted for other root veg as you see fit (carrots, parsnips, celeriac, etc.) but I’d recommend leaving the oyster mushrooms in for a bit more….gill-iness? The dulse isn’t compulsory either but it lends a fishy taste, if that’s your thing. Let’s go!
Vegan Fiskesuppe (Norwegian fish & vegetable chowder)
- 1 large knob vegan butter
- 1 block smoked tofu (225g)
- 4 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 leek (chopped)
- 2 stalks celery (chopped)
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms (sliced)
- 1.5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup unsweetened soya milk
- 1/2 tub Oatly creme fraiche
- salt, pepper, and dulse (or crumbled nori) to taste
- 1 small lemon juiced
- Begin by heating the butter in your pan, along with the minced garlic and your tofu, chopped roughly into big chunks. You don’t want to fry off the tofu to a crisp – you want it to be soft and squishy like fish.
- Add the leek and celery and let sweat over a low heat until softened. Add a splash of olive oil or stock if needed.Add the mushrooms (and/or other vegetables) and the stock and milk. Add salt, pepper, and dulse.
- Cover the pan and let simmer over a low heat for around 30 minutes.
- Before serving, mix in the oat fraiche/cream and the lemon juice.Serve with crusty bread, and a little wee dollop of the leftover oat fraiche on top (or a drizzle of the cream).
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