ARGENTINEAN CAULIFLOWER STEAK RECIPE
2 small or 1 medium cauliflower
1 litter of vegetable stock or dashi
2 cups of preserved lemon butter
2 cups of cashew labneh or any thick vegetable yogurt
3 cups of fresh chimi churri
2 cups of raw tomato sauce
a handful of toasted Brazilian nuts
sea salt flakes to taste
For the dashi
1 litter of water
a big piece of celery
2 garlic cloves
a handful of parsley
1 tablespoon of allspices
1 big piece of kombu seaweed
For the preserved lemon butter
1 preserved lemon with its oil and juice
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1 tablespoon of water
For the cashew labneh
1 cup of raw cashew nuts
1 cup of water
1 pill of vegan lactobacillus
For the chimi churri
1 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 cup of fresh chopped oregano
1 cup of fresh chopped chives
2 tablespoons of aji molido
olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt to taste
For the raw tomato sauce
2 ripe tomatoes, grated (discharge the skins)
1 garlic clove, finely grated
a drizzle of olive oil
½ teaspoon of sea salt
½ tablespoon of coconut sugar
black pepper to taste
The bed, the cashew labneh; what we do here is to make a cream, using a hand blender, with same proportions (weight) of cashew nuts and water, and a pill of vegan lactobacilus (1 every ½ kg) (that is added before blending); the mixture needs to be fermented at room temperature for 24 hours or in a yogurt maker for 12 hours. After that, you take out the excess of water and the labneh is ready; you want this to be thick so the cauliflower doesn’t end up swimming.
For the chimi churri, you use same proportions (volume, cups) of parsley, fresh oregano and chives, and add the Argentinean aji molido (you can find the Turkish crushed red pepper that is a good substitution, or use a milled crushed chili); you finish the mix with some fresh lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. Very important: chimi churri should be consumed within 48 hours maximum.
Raw tomato sauce: for this one you need to grate the tomatoes and the garlic and finish it up just with sea salt, coconut sugar and black pepper. Proportions: 2 garlic cloves for every kg of tomatoes; for that amount you use 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar, black pepper just to taste. You always need to try salt, sugar and pepper as this will ensure the right balance for its acidity.
Toasted Brazilian nuts: here you just cut them big vertically, put them in a baking tray, spread some sea salt over them and drizzle some olive oil. Then place them in the oven at 170C (low temperature) for about 20 mins, always checking they are not near to be burnt; they need to be taken out when they are gold toasted and with a strong nut aroma.
For the cauliflower: to pre-cook the cauliflower I normally do a dashi, that is a regular vegan stock with the addition of Japanese Kombu to intensify Umami flavors. First you boil the cauliflower for about 15 mins; texture is critical, so you need to check it with a fork: the fork should be able to go in but with the cauliflower offering some resistance. This will ensure you don’t end up with a mash. You leave them to cool down.
The lemon butter for the massage You can do the preserved lemons or buy them. Making them is extremely easy but you need to do it 3 days in advance and ensuring you keep it fermenting in the darkness. How? You cut lemon slices of about 2mm diameter and pile them one over the other with a sprinkle of sea salt in the middle; after this is done, you cover the whole thing with oil; I use cold pressed rapeseed oil as it is very neutral and healthy. For the butter you blend the preserved lemons with their own oil and juices, add the coconut oil, the water and the almond butter, which will help the whole thing to end up in a mayonnaise texture.
When all above is ready, you cut the cauliflowers in halves or quarters, depending on the size of the cauliflowers and the size of the portion you want to serve, we normally cut them in quarters. You massage each cauliflower with the butter and them put them, in a baking tray, in the oven for about 15 mins at the highest possible temperature. You want them to be burnt just superficially, while being hot inside.
- Spoon a generous bed of the cashew labneh.
- Drizzle it with olive oil as you would do when serving humus.
- Add some spoons of the fresh chimi churri on top.
- Place the cauliflower quarters or halves.
- Add on top the raw tomato sauce.
- Finish the dish up with the toasted Brazilian nuts, micro herbs and some sea salt flakes.