A surprising and delightful vegan alternative to smoked salmon
Several weeks ago we received a complimentary review copy of The Buddhist Chef, 100 simple, feel-good vegan recipes written by Jean-Philippe Cyr, the creator of The Buddhist Chef. Published by Penguin Random House Canada, this book arrived at exactly the right time. We have just begun the Orthodox Nativity Fast, during which time we essentially eat a vegan diet (although there are certain seafood which are permissible during the fast). We were hoping that this book would offer new ideas and inspiration, and it did not disappoint.
The Buddhist Chef cookbook begins with a short introduction which allows the reader to understand Chef Cyr’s adoption of Buddhist philosophy and veganism.
This is followed by a set of kitchen basics which includes a description of some ingredients which may be unfamiliar (and not easily accessible) to many people; raise your hand if you’ve heard of Kala Namak Himalayan black salt.
The particular equipment listed to make these recipes include a blender and food processor. This was reassuring, because even if we couldn’t access the fancy Himalayan salt, the rest of the ingredients we knew we could find, and the equipment was nothing fancy.
The recipes in this lovely book, many of which are accompanied by full page photos, are categorized by Breakfast and Brunch, Salads, Soups and Bowls, Lunch and Dinner, Snacks and Sides, Dessert, Sauces and Toppings, and finally, Drinks.
Many of the recipes pay homage to Cyr’s Quebec roots, so here you will find a recipe for vegan Cretons (which are traditionally made with pork), Maple baked beans, and Mushroom poutine. Other recipes draw inspiration from other cultural cuisines, such as Pad Thai, Eggplant Green Curry, and Moroccan-Style Tofu to name a few.
All recipes indicate the serving amounts, preparation, cook and rest times where applicable, and a short preamble which gives a glimpse into the recipes creation. This is very helpful when planning what to make and deciding how long you need to make it.
We have already made several recipes from this book, including the Portobello Bourguignon (quite yummy) and Mushroom Quinoa (so good, the purchase of the book is worth it for this one recipe alone). And then, we decided to make bagels with “smoked salmon” and fried capers.
Given that we’re from Montreal, a city with a strong and delicious bagel culture, this seemed an obvious choice as a recipe to review and share with all of you. Plus, we were intrigued (and honestly, a little apprehensive). Smoked salmon is so perfect, so unique, we were not convinced that this carrot-based recipe would do the original justice. But, it seemed easy enough, so we dove right in. The verdict, carrots are magical, Chef Cyr is a genius, and this recipe is going to be on regular repeat.
Chef Cyr suggests using either grated carrot or carrot pulp for this recipe. Carrot pulp is what is left over from juicing carrots but since we don’t have a juicer, we went with grated carrot.
We used the fine side of our box grater, giving us thin strips of carrot. This seemed to work out quite well, although the texture of the carrot pulp would likely have been even better.
A note about bagels: some of them do contain eggs. If you are keeping a strictly vegan diet, read the labels carefully or ask your bagel shop worker if they use eggs in their recipe.
The recipe does not indicate that the bagels should be toasted. We did toast them in this recipe, as we prefer the texture and flavour of toasted bagels.
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The recipe below makes 4 to 6 servings. Because we were not sure how this would turn out (sorry for doubting you Chef Cyr), we halved the recipe. It worked out beautifully to do this, and we imagine that you can just as easily double or triple the recipe as well.
For the vegan salmon
- 4 cups (440 g) carrot pulp or finely grated carrots
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 3 tablespoons capers, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- salt, to taste
For the fried capers
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
- 4 - 6 bagels, sliced in half
- Sliced red onion, to garnish (optional)
For the vegan salmon
- 1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, then let rest for 1 hour at room temperature for the flavors to develop.
For the fried capers
- 2. Rinse the capers, then pat them dry using a paper towel.
- 3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil.
- 4. Add the capers and fry for 2 minutes.
- 5. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
- 6. Spread the vegan salmon mixture on the sliced bagels. Garnish with fried capers and a few red onion slices, if desired. Enjoy.
Excerpted from The Buddhist Chef by Jean-Philippe Cyr. Copyright © 2019 Jean-Philippe Cyr. Photography by Samuel Joubert. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.