Last week I got the urge to make Jambalaya. It’s usually made w/ lots of meat. We keep kosher, so a lot of the seafood and pork you would normally put in jambalaya wouldn’t work. Also since we live in Southern Oregon, the kosher meat supply is currently very limited. So, I decided to put in tofu, tempeh, and some fish. It usually has rice, some veggies, tomato sauce and lots of spices.
This is the story of the jumble of ingredients that went into the dish.
The rice, tofu, tempeh, and fish came from the co-op, not that exciting. The tomato sauce I used was made by my brother. He was trying to make catsup, but it didn’t quite work, so I ended up w/ 2 pints of it in my cabinet. I thought the sweetness of it would work well w/ the fish and spiciness of the dish. It did.
The bell peppers came from Ashland Food Angels, a local organization that I work at a couple of hours a week. We collect unwanted food from markets and bakeries in town and distribute to a bunch of organizations. Since I try to by mostly local food, it’s a nice compromise in the Winter to be able to use produce that didn’t sell at the grocery stores.
I picked the bay leaves that I added for flavor the last time I was in the Bay Area. I learned this a few years ago, that bay leaves are just the leaves from the bay laurel trees. I think the ones I got were from the California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica) the link has some cool info about the tree including eating the fruits and seeds, and how the wood was once used as currency in Oregon.
Be careful w/ the laurels because they look similar to some other species that are poisonous. One last tangent about the California Laurel, and this is my favorite part – in Oregon it’s called Oregon Myrtle. Gotta love it 🙂
That is the story of the ingredients in my Jumble-aya. A few final thoughts, and then some links to recipes. For the tofu, I bought extra firm tofu and then cut it into small pieces and baked it in the over for close to an hour till it had a very firm and chewy texture that was a nice substitute for sausage that would go in a standard Jambalaya.
My wife, Andrea said that the fish was just going to fall apart and not add much to the dish. She was right. I added it in at the last-minute, but it still turned to mush. A recipe I found said to use firm white fish, like grouper or sea bass. I guess mine wasn’t firm enough. One recipe recommended blackening the fish first. That probably would have been good.
I used brown rice instead of white, so it took longer to cook. than some recipes called for, but it’s supposed to cook for a while, it’s bascially a stew or risotto.
The flavor overall was good for a non meat version of a meaty dish. I tried to stay close to the spices listed in Jambalaya recipes I found. Here are a few recipes to get you on the right track: Gulf Coast Chicken-and-Fish Jambalaya and Smoked Fish Jambalaya