7-21: Jambalaya

Cajun and Creole cooking are not something I’ve had a ton of experience with, so 7-21: Jambalaya is somewhat unfamiliar territory. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of New Orleans cuisine, other than my mother’s ill-fated attempt at making gumbo once.

It’s not a difficult recipe (quite the opposite, actually), but I don’t feel like I have a solid understanding of the difference between what makes it good and what makes it great. That’s something that comes with experience, both as a taster and as a creator.

I couldn’t have even told you that there are two types of jambalaya, Creole and Cajun. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the difference between the two is the absence or presence of tomatoes. Simply Delicious identifies this version as Creole, which is correct–that’s the version that has the tomatoes in it, which this one does. ??

They suggest using pepperoni, but you’d probably want to use Louisiana hot links if you want to be more authentic about it.

Ingredients. I’ve swapped out pepperoni/hot links for vegan pepperoni and real shrimp for vegan shrimp. The “shrimp” are breaded (unlike what the recipe calls for and what real jambalaya would have), but they’ll have to do.

The weird brown lump in the front right of the picture is a vegan ham. Since making this recipe, I’ve actually invested in a few vegan cookbooks from The Gentle Chef (different author/recipe than the link from above, but it inspired me to look for cookbooks with similar recipes), who I highly recommend.

Unpacking the pepperoni. You have to admit, they do look pretty “real”.

These pepperoni tend to taste better if you crisp them up in a pan first, even before using them on something like a pizza (or in this case, jambalaya).

After crisping. Now they look really real.

Removed the pepperoni, but kept the flavor. I’m going to try to retain as much flavor throughout this process as possible, especially because I’m not using any meat or dairy (which is where you usually get a lot of it from).

Diced my “ham” so that I could brown it in the pan.

Why brown this, you say? Looks brown already to you?

No. THIS is BROWN. Brown = flavor.

Removed my ham, kept the pan flavors. Next up: onion!

Now the onion gets all of the pepperoni and ham flavors.

Adding in the pepper strips.

Dicing tomatoes.

Added in the rest of the chopped veggies and the rice.

Looks good–now we need to let the rice cook.

Added the “meat” back in.

The jambalaya simmers while I get the fryer ready for the shrimp.

If I have to use breaded “shrimp”, I might as well do them right.

Final dish–it’s 2020, and we eat vegan jambalaya now. Wasn’t bad, and definitely had a LOT of flavor.

Grade: B+