Frances Gonzalez, the founder of Vegan Wines, is proud to be from Puerto Rico. In this series of blog posts, we want to highlight a few amazing vegan chefs from the island nation, also known as La Isla del Encanto or “the Island of Enchantment.” We’ll be chatting with them about how they turn traditional Puerto Rican cuisine into delicious vegan dishes.
We’ve asked these chefs a few questions and even requested their favorite plant-based Puerto Rican recipes to share with all of you. And then we paired them with our wines, of course!
You’ll find the links to their restaurants and services below, so if you’re able, please give your support to these great vegan chefs and restaurants during this time – or on your next trip to Puerto Rico!
We’re kicking things off with Loumiry Sanchez. He’s a creative vegan chef, plant-based nutrition advisor, and the owner of El Grifo restaurant in Caguas, Puerto Rico where they serve incredible vegan food and craft beer.
Let’s get to the questions and hear from Sanchez himself!
Do you think traditional Puerto Rican food lends itself well to vegan adaptations? What’s the hardest part about making plant-based Puerto Rican food?
Yes. Many elements of typical Puerto Rican food are vegan in themselves and people don’t even recognize it as such (guanimes, tostones, rice, etc.), as the general idea that veganism is boring salad and tasteless food still persists. The enormous challenge of making our typical Puerto Rican food and matching flavors using plant-based foods lies in the amount of fats and highly processed ingredients that contain them.
My approach to veganizing a dish is to make the most nutritious version possible without sacrificing the flavor that we like and still evokes the satisfaction of well-being that we feel when eating our Creole food.
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Which dishes are the easiest to make vegan?
All. The reality is that after all these years, it’s almost impossible for me to see a recipe and not to immediately veganize it in my mind. I’m always creating, literally 24/7 I’m thinking and rethinking how to veganize everything.
How do you compensate for the flavors and textures of meat in these traditional dishes?
Trial and error!! To be able to achieve the flavors and textures, I do a “brainstorming” of what I’m looking to recreate in that specific dish, and then I’m creating lists of basic elements (lipids, acids, carbohydrates/sugars, spices, vegetables, etc.) that I must combine to get those flavors, textures, colors, aromas, and so on.
It may sound a little far-fetched, but as I walk down the street, I wonder, “Will those palm stems help me recreate a braised chicken?” Some recipes I prepare three to seven times until I achieve the result I’m looking for. It’s an adventure! 😊
Do you have any go-to plant-based ingredients or spices that you turn to when making vegan Puerto Rican food?
Puerto Rican Creole food definitely vibrates in coriander, garlic, and recao.
(Note from Vegan Wines: FYI, “recao” is culantro.)
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🤩¿Ya probaste nuestro nuevo GFO Steak? No animals were harmed during the making of this juicy and savory vegan steak!!!! . . ….hecho completamente en casa a base de garbanzos, servido "medium well" y le acompaña un majado de batata mameya hecha en leche de coco, naranjas y cardamomo. Por el costado aderezan crema agria y cebollines…. disponible en nuestro evento de degustación del nuevo menú este viernes y sábado. . . . Compra tu boleto para el evento de degustación presionando el botón “GET TICKETS” que aparece en la parte superior de nuestra página o llame a nuestra localidad al (787)666-8466 y nuestro personal le asistirá. . . . . ➖El Grifo➖ 97 Betances Caguas PR 00725 (787)666-8466 ONLY CASH / PAYPAL / ATH MOVIL / EVENTBRITE . . . Horario especial esta semana: •Viernes, 8 noviembre 2019 4:00pm – 9:00pm •Sábado, 9 noviembre 2019 4:00pm – 9:00pm . . . . #elgrifopr #elgrifo #tastingmenu #veganevent #vegansteak #plantbasedrestaurant #nouvellecuisine #vegan #plantpowered #plantbased #wholefood #healthyfood #localcuisine #farmtotable #slowfood #sustainability #organicingredients #madefromscratch #rawfood #veganrevolution #govegan #consciousfood #local #caguas #puertorico
Do you prefer using meat substitutes?
No. In fact, in my personal life I don’t tend to consume them. I believe in veganism full of whole and nutritious foods that generate well-being for the world and so do we.
The food industry has been responsible for saturating the market with many alternatives of meat substitutes that, although they can be a transformation tool for people who want to consume more vegetables, end up becoming a trap because the vast majority of these foods contain ingredients that are exaggeratedly refined, altered, or modified, with large amounts of sodium, fats, and sugars that affect the proper functioning of our body and health. On the other hand, the production of whole foods (in their original or not very processed state) generate less climate load to the ecosystem.
What is your favorite vegan Puerto Rican dish? Could you send us a recipe?
Guanimes with Jacalao (see recipe below!)
Recipe: Guanimes with Jacalao
“Through this recipe, we wanted to rescue the nostalgia of those days eating at home with our grandparents, but in a more nutritious way using plant-based foods.”
Vegan Wines suggests pairing this dish with our Nerkihue Quiebre Syrah.
- 1 cup – Organic corn flour, fine
- 1 tsp – Pink salt (optional)
- 1 can – Coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp – Anis (extract)
- 1 cup – Water
- 4 tbsp – Maple syrup
- 1 tbsp – Vegan butter
- 10 Guineo leaves (as they’re known in Puerto Rico) or banana leaves
- Baking paper
- Thread to tie cakes
Before starting, prepare the banana leaves. Wash them well and cut them into sizes of approximately 6″ x 4″. Cut baking paper larger in size than the leaves, and then cut several strips of thread.
- Combine cornmeal in a container with salt, coconut milk, anise, water, maple syrup, and vegan butter.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until it begins to boil and shrink. Turn off and wrap the mixture in the ready-made leaves.
- Place a piece of baking paper on the work table. Then place a pre-cut banana leaf on top and grease with a little coconut oil. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dough into the center by crushing and distributing it until an oblique shape is obtained. Wrap and tie the ends with thread until well adjusted.
- Steam, covered, for about 40 minutes.
- Serve with Jacalao (see recipe below).
- 2 cups – Green jackfruit (cooked)
- 1 leaf – Fresh warlock’s oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
- 3 Sweet chilies
- 1 to 2 Garlic cloves (ground)
- 1 White onion
- 1/2 tbsp – Ginger (grated)
- 4 to 6 Green olives with red peppers
- 1 tbsp – Sofrito
- 1 cup – Tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup – Vegetable broth
- 1/2 tbsp – Seaweed (dulse or kelp)
- 2 Laurel leaves
- 2 tbsp – Cilantro
- 1 1/2 tbsp – Cumin
- 1 1/2 tbsp – Paprika
- 1/4 tsp – Curry
- 1/8 tbsp – Black pepper
Before starting the preparation, we suggest cooking the jackfruit in water for at least 30 minutes over medium-low heat to eliminate the astringent flavor that it brings with it. Then discard the water and start the preparation according to the steps below:
- In a deep frying pan, pour 1/4 cup of vegetable broth, and add the sofrito. Cook the following vegetables over medium heat: onion, garlic, chili, and oregano, until softened.
- Crumble the cooked jackfruit and add it to the pan in conjunction with tomato sauce, grated ginger, all dried spices (seaweed, laurel, coriander, cumin, paprika, curry, black pepper) and the rest of the vegetable broth.
- Cook over low heat and covered until all flavors are combined and the liquid has been reduced a little. Add the olives, mix, and then add salt to taste.
- Serve with guanimes and place fresh coriander or recao leaves on top.
Let us enjoy the exquisite flavors of our land in health and harmony!