I have absolutely no idea how this got into my cupboard. I certainly didn’t buy it and it has a best before date of 2008 so it has clearly been there some time. It’s not anything like tomato ketchup; it’s very dark and thin and it’s more like Worcestershire sauce than anything else, though there is a hint of earthiness from the mushrooms. I googled around for a way to use this and couldn’t really find anything so I decided to treat it like Worcestershire sauce and make a vegan version of an old family favourite, Scouse.
If you want to know more about the history of the dish, you can read about it here. I’m from Merseyside and we certainly ate it a lot growing up. Where I live now it’s called Lobby but I’m pretty certain it’s the same thing.
The difficult thing about Scouse is that it’s so tempting to put extra ingredients in. I wanted to add herbs, spices, beer and greens, but the dish is designed to be a plain, comfort food dish for poor people who didn’t have access to many ingredients and were trying to eke out a cheap cut of meat.
I used some beefy seitan, cut into chunks, which I fried in vegetable oil in a large pan until
it had crispy edges. I deglazed the pan with the mushroom ketchup, then added two large sliced carrots, 3 large chopped potatoes and some very strong dark vegetable broth. With the potatoes, you want to chop most of them into large chunks, but cut about half a potato into very fine dice as this dissolves and thickens the Scouse. I also added a dash of browning just to improve the colour and look of the dish and another slug of mushroom ketchup for tang. Put a lid on the pan and cook until the potatoes are very soft and the sauce is thick. Liberally season with white pepper, never black!
I made this dish yesterday because I knew I’d be late in today, but if you can it’s far better left overnight anyway. It is traditionally served with either pickled red cabbage or beetroot, and usually some cheap white bread to mop up the sauce and make the dish go even further. I had lots of red cabbage but no time to pickle it, so I blanched it briefly in boiling water then added it to some fried sliced red onions and fried it for a bit with a big splash of red wine vinegar and salt, for a vaguely similar effect.
This dish, although simple, transported me back to my childhood immediately. The melting potatoes and carrots in the thick sauce mopped up with bread (or toast in my case) is pure comfort food and absolutely ideal for anyone on a budget. This one will definitely be made again.
Mofo 2010 – overall thoughts.
I went into October hoping to get some clearer cupboards and find some tasty new uses for ingredients along the way, and I certainly did that. I actually made 5 of the dishes towards the end of September and wrote them up for those days when I was working late or away from home (which was a godsend), but I really did use all these ingredients and write them up especially for MoFo, whilst working full time. This made it the hardest MoFo I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding. There were some ingredients I didn’t especially relish using but it took me out of my comfort zone and made me find new recipes. I think I made dishes from 17 different countries this month!
My favourite dishes were the yuba, the filipino vinegar, and the poha, but apart from the hominy and the juniper berries, I didn’t try anything I wouldn’t use again and I’m positively excited to use some of them again!
In case you’re wondering I do have quite a few ingredients that I didn’t get round to showcasing this month but I’m hoping to keep a random MoFo offshoot going through the blog and posting those ingredients as I use them. I certainly don’t plan to still have them around for next year!
Now I’m off to think about what to cook for the next few days now I’ve got the luxury of choice! Hope you enjoyed my weird October!