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Vegan Planet: Yuba-Wrapped Vegan Haggis

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Yuba-Wrapped Vegan Haggis

 Okay, I know the real thing is gross and that the chances are remote that anyone would ever say, “I’d go vegan if only I had a plant-based alternative for my beloved haggis.”

Still, I’ve always loved the challenge of making a vegan version of meat-based recipes, not because I miss the meat (could anyone actually miss haggis?) but because I like to show that virtually anything that is made with animals can be made with plants — and no one has to suffer and die for it.

Haggis is traditionally served on Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25th) with mashed potatoes and mashed rutabaga (called “swede” in Scotland). I first made my vegan version (mostly as a joke) for my husband Jon who is of Scottish heritage. It turned out so well (what’s not to like about a bean and vegetable loaf made with oats and a splash of Scotch?) that I included a recipe for it in my book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Over the years, I have since tinkered with the recipe. Below is the latest version in case you want to celebrate the birthday of a certain Scottish poet.

This morning, I got my vegan haggis ready to cook all day in the slow cooker. These photos show the mixture in the bowl before going in the slow cooker, then in the slow cooker before and after folding the yuba over it. Sorry for the quality of the photos on the fly. I’ll try to snap a shot of the “after” photo later on when it’s done cooking.

P.S. If you do make this, you’ll want a flavorful brown gravy to go with it. Scottish cuisine isn’t big on seasoning and so the seasoning in this recipe leans to the mild side.

Yuba-Wrapped Vegan Haggis
Yuba, or bean curd skin, is used as a crispy outer wrapper for the Scotch-laced oat, bean, and vegetable mixture. Yuba is available in Asian markets where it is sold fresh or frozen in large sheets and is a versatile ingredient often used as a dumpling wrapper. Note: if you can’t find bean curd skin, the recipe can be made without it — just spoon the stuffing mixture directly into the lightly oiled cooker insert and proceed with the recipe. The stuffing can also be baked in a loaf pan.

1 large sheet fresh or frozen bean curd skin (yuba)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, finely shredded
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more if needed
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned black-eyed peas or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans or other nuts
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Scotch whiskey (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon vegetable broth powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour (if needed)
1 potato or onion
Your favorite brown gravy, to serve
Thaw the bean curd skin if frozen — it should then be soft, not brittle. If brittle, soak in a shallow bowl of water for a few seconds to soften. Lightly oil a 4-quart slow cooker and set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until tender then add the mushrooms and cook until softened. Stir in the oats and the 1/2 cup of broth. Set aside.
Mash the kidney beans and black-eyed peas and stir into the oat mixture. Add the nuts, parsley, whiskey (if using), soy sauce, thyme, vegetable broth powder, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more broth to make it hold together. If the mixture becomes too moist, stir in up to 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour or chickpea flour.
Cut the potato or onion into 1/2-inch slices and arrange evenly in the bottom of the slow cooker — this is done to make the loaf easier to remove from the slow cooker. Line the slow cooker with the yuba sheet and spoon the stuffing mixture inside, spreading evenly. Fold the yuba sheet over onto the mixture to enclose it.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Serve hot with brown gravy.
Serves 4 to 6

Oven-Baked Variation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a round baking dish and line it with the yuba. Spoon the stuffing mixture inside, spreading evenly. Fold the yuba sheet over the top of the mixture to enclose it. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 minutes longer to slightly crisp the yuba.
NOTE: If you can’t find yuba, you can bake it without it — just spread the mixture evenly into an oiled loaf pan, cover tightly, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

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I think your version has much more to offer than the "original."

From wikipedia… "Haggis is a dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach.")

Using Yuba AND a crockpot are both very clever ideas.

Best, Mark
Thanks, Mark. The original is UNTHINKABLE. (Yikes!)
I don't mean to be a total pedant, but as a Scot I felt compelled to let you know that we call "rutabaga" turnip, or neep. Hence "Haggis, neeps & tatties" (haggis, turnip and potatoes). I was always confused by the differing usage of turnip/swede in Scotland and England (when travelling as a child), so I understand why a non-native would be as well :)
Just to offer credit where credit is due, Robin Robertson has had this very recipe for years in her vegan crockpot cookbook. I made this for my husband on Valentine's Day in 2007, and it marked the beginning of a long and still wonderful romance. There is a tendency for the yuba to burn and stick to the pot--a liner isn't a bad idea, though I shudder to add plastic to a heated surface.
Ooops! Just realized that this IS RR's site! Thanks once more for keeping my love of adventurous vegan cooking alive. (For that very same Valentine's meal, my husband made vegan flan.) Anyway, I belong to a food swap, and I need to recreate the haggis for 12 individual servings. Other than doubling or tripling the recipe, are there ingredients you think that should be otherwise modified? I don't know what haggis actually looks like--if it's served as a pie or as crispy sausages or individual balls--and any help in this regard would be tremendously appreciated. Same goes for freezing and reheating portions.
Belinda, The best way to make this recipe for a crowd may be to double the recipe and make it in a large oval slow cooker. Another alternative is to treat it as a "loaf" and bake it in a couple loaf pans in the oven. You can then more easily slice it into your 12 portions needed.
Thank you, Robin. I wound up doubling the recipe--our Chinatown market sells HUGE sheets of yuba, several in a package--and cooking one in the slow-cooker for 5 hours and one in a Corningware crock in the oven. For the slow cooker, the sliced potatoes were a lifesaver (and a delicious breakfast treat), and I feel the version in the slow-cooker turned out best. I couldn't get the bean curd skin crisp to my satisfaction in the oven version. One thing I did that wasn't mentioned in your blog (until now) was that I turned the haggis so that the part where the yuba gathers is on the bottom and the top skin is relatively clear (and easier for cutting). It looked somewhat more true to the photos of haggis I saw online, but not as disturbing. This version of the haggis is a great improvement over the cookbook recipe, and I've written notes in the book to amend. All my swap attendees really enjoyed it. Thanks again!
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