Thursday, April 16, 2009

Veggie Might: BBQ Slaw, Y'all

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

This weekend I was craving a little Southern fried comfort food. For a vegetarian substitute, well-pressed firm tofu, dredged in corn meal hits spot perfectly. It tastes nothing like catfish, but satisfies the craving for something savory, chewy, and cooked in oil.

To go with it, I whipped up some hush puppies from a mix my mother put in my take-home box the last time I visited (along with boxes of Luzianne tea and Duke’s mayonnaise, neither of which I can get in the great white north). I still needed a vegetable.

Oh crisper drawer, why are ye always so bare toward the end of the pay period? I had three beets and a 1/2 a cabbage left over from the massive pot of gumbo I took to an Easter/Passover, dual-holiday, superfood blowout on Saturday.

Pop Quiz 1
Drawing conclusions from the passage above, what could Leigh make with the vegetables in her fridge to go with fried “catfish” and hushpuppies?

Answer: Slaw, y’all.

Everyone from North Carolina’s southern Piedmont region knows there are two kinds of slaw: regular slaw and barbecue slaw. Regular slaw is classic mayo-based cabbage slaw with carrots thrown in for color. Barbecue slaw is cream-based with a barbecue flavor.

Regular slaw is traditionally served on hamburgers, hot dogs, and alongside fried fish and hushpuppies at fish camps.

Pop Quiz 2
What is a fish camp?

Answer: A restaurant near a river where local fisherman sell their catch to the hungry public.

Barbecue slaw is similar to regular slaw, but with a kick. It is served with barbecue, either on the side of or right on a pulled pork or chicken sandwich. When I’m back home, I go for a “slawburger,” (bbq slaw + pickle + bun = slawburger), which makes for an awesome if sloppy sandwich. And my dad’s recipe is dang good.

Pop Quiz 3
True or False: You can’t mix BBQ slaw with fish fixin’s.

Answer: False. All this stuff is interchangeable.

Since I get hushpuppies at both fish camps and bbq joints, I figured I could have bbq slaw with my fried tofish. (I just invented a new fake meat!) Plus, beets are strong and I knew they would overpower the dressing if I mixed them into regular slaw.

I was right, and it turned out great. It’s been a perfect compliment to tofish, grilled cheese, and my fork all week long.

The beets nearly overtook this recipe too, so I added more sauce than the regular recipe calls for. If you make this with more cabbage and fewer beets, halve all the amounts except for the soymilk. You’ll be golden.

Oh, crisper drawer, you forced me improvise and added color and fiber to my deep fried food festival. My arteries and my mouth thank you. Dad, thanks for the recipe. I hope it wasn’t a deep dark family secret.

Beet and Cabbage BBQ Slaw—Veganized and Fancified
Yields 8 to 10 servings

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
3 medium beets, peeled and grated

Dad’s BBQ Slaw Sauce (adapted)
1/2 c ketchup
4 tbsp chili powder (or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1/3 cup soymilk
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1) Peel and grate beets into a large bowl.

2) Chop cabbage and add to beets. Toss.

3) Mix all measured sauce ingredients in small mixing bowl.

4) Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.

5) Whisk together well.

6) Pour over cabbage/beet mixture and toss until well combined.

7) Chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with “BBQ,” “catfish,” or just eat it right out of the bowl.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
Per serving: 28 calories, .25g fat, $0.28 (8 servings)

1/2 green cabbage: 89 calories, .5g fat, $.50
3 medium beets: 105 calories, 0g fat, $.99
1/2 c ketchup: negligible calories and fat, $.37
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper: negligible calories and fat, $.02
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard: negligible calories and fat, $.01
1/3 cup soymilk: 30 calories, 1.5g fat, $.13
1 tsp liquid smoke: negligible calories and fat, $.08
1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce: negligible calories and fat, $.06
garlic powder to taste: negligible calories and fat, $.02
salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $.02
Totals: 224 calories, 2g fat, $2.20
Per serving: 28 calories, .25g fat, $0.28 (8 servings)

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Heather said...

What's a hush puppie??? The shoes favored by the older generation just doesn't fit in the context..
Might try that tofu-catfish sometime.

kathyhm said...

Got to love that the NYCers still miss the down home food! My daughter now lives in NYC and on her list of must haves each trip home is NC BBQ, cole slaw and sweet tea!

Heather - husbpuppies are little deep frieds balls of dough that are yummy! The story is that Confederate soliders would give the little balls of fried dough to the dogs in the camp to keep the puppies from barking - thus "hush puppies!"

Southern piedmont of NC

Leigh said...

Hushpuppies are deep fried corn meal balls. The sweet v. savory cornbread debate extends to hushpuppies as well. Savory (with flecks of onion) rules the day in the southern Piedmont of NC, from whence I hail.

Leigh said...

Hey Kathy, I did not know the story of the hush puppies! Thank you for adding to my stock pile of folklore. Hee!

suzannah said...

this post cracked me up, and your slaw sounds delicious! will have to try this concoction:)