Swiss Chef Christian Krebs is not personally 100% vegan. But you know the old saying, “happy wife, happy home.” His vegan spouse, Vera Webber, is a second generation owner of the historic and renowned Grand Hotel Giessbach. Among its three restaurants is the vegetarian/vegan Le Tapis Rouge for which Chef Krebs serves as culinary consultant.
Based on the enthusiasm Chef Krebs displayed during the 22nd Festival Gourmet International in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for vegan cuisine his wife is a successful influence. As guest chef at Café des Artistes, considered by many to be Puerto Vallarta’s premiere restaurant, Christian Krebs took the challenge of proving vegan dishes are not simply a platter of steamed vegetables. He enthralled guests at both his vegan cooking demonstration and the sold-out themed dinner attended by Puerto Vallarta’s food aficionados.
Yet in a country known for its meat, fish and seafood, Café des Artistes owner/chef Thierry Blouet was not the only one who gave center stage to vegan cuisine during the festival. One of the original founders of Puerto Vallarta’s Festival Gourmet International, this multi lingual Puerto Rico born French expat has made Mexico and Puerto Vallarta his home for decades. The quality of his restaurants have justifiably gained Chef Blouet celebrity status leading with his flagship Café des Artistes located in the heart of historic Puerto Vallarta.
Smiling broadly at the Café des Artistes cooking class Chef Krebs conducted for the festival he stressed that all dishes are fascinating if they start with a good recipe and preparation. Like all excellent chefs, he uses multiple ingredients creating layers of flavor in recipes such as delicate rice flour crepes which held a fragrant filling of sautéed tofu and spinach seasoned with vegetable and herb reductions. Thin slices of sautéed eggplant, onions, tomato and herbs were arranged in individual timbale molds and baked melding the flavors into an eye-appealing dish.
His twist on a vegan sushi roll of seasoned quinoa, papaya, mango and avocado paired with a wasabi scented soya based panna cotta is refreshing and not at all difficult to prepare.
Quinoa sushi with wasabi panna cotta – 4 rolls
Note: make the wasabi panna cotta one day ahead since it needs 24 hours to gel. Use agar not traditional gelatin which is made from animal ingredients.
Special equipment: bamboo sushi mat for rolling
Ingredients for the sushi:
- 16 ounces (2 cups) water
- ½ pound (1 cup) quinoa
- 5 ounces (1/3rd cup) rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sake
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 mango peeled and sliced lengthwise into sticks
- 1 avocado peeled and sliced lengthwise into sticks
- 1 small papaya peeled and sliced lengthwise into sticks
- wasabi paste to taste
- 4 nori seaweed sheets
Ingredients for wasabi panna cotta:
- 4 ounces ( ½ cup) soy milk
- 4 ounces ( 1/2 cup) soy cream
- 1 teaspoon agar powder (or 1 tablespoon agar flakes or ½ bar agar)
- 3 tablespoons wasabi paste
- drop or two of green vegetable coloring
- chopped fresh herbs (to use as garnish and/or add to panna cotta)
Preparation of sushi:
- Cook quinoa in 2 cups simmering water, covered, for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed and the white “tails” are visable.
- Gently stir in rice vinegar, saki, salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
- Place one sheet of nori on the bamboo mat and gently spread with ½ cup seasoned quinoa.
- Spread a line of wasabi paste lengthwise across the quinoa and arrange sticks of sliced avocado, mango and papaya.
- Using the bamboo mat, roll the nori tightly. Allow the roll to rest for several minutes before slicing.
Preparation for the panna cotta:
- Slowly heat the soy milk and soy cream for 2 minutes, stirring, until the agar melts. Remove from the heat. Add the wasabi paste and combine.
- Add the food coloring if desired.
- Line 4, 4-ounce custard cups with plastic wrap and fill with panna cotta. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Unmold each panna cotta onto a plate. Garnish with fresh herbs and arrange the sushi slices.
When you go:
Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) is served by many international airlines from major cities worldwide.
For the 23rd Festival Gourmet International in November 2017 check the web site: http://www.festivalgourmet.com/en/
Disclaimer: the author was a guest of the 22nd Festival Gourmet International, Puerto Vallarta Tourism, and Café des Artistes.
Additional articles on Puerto Vallarta by Marc d’Entremont
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