Vegan "Clam" Chowder

Vegan "Clam" Chowder. Get the recipe.

(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times / June 2, 2011)


Vegan 'clam' chowder

Total time: 1 hour, 35 minutes, plus overnight soaking time for the cashews

Servings: 12

Note: This recipe calls for a commercial stove-top smoker; a heavy-duty roasting pan with a rack and lid can be substituted. This recipe uses small hardwood hickory chips or shavings; the chips are available at select cooking stores and are widely available online. Kombu (dried seaweed) is available at Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

Cashew cream

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4 cups whole raw cashews, rinsed under cold water

1. Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to soak overnight.

2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place the cashews in a high-speed blender (this will need to be done in a couple of batches) and add enough water to cover by an inch. Purée until completely smooth. If needed, pass the cashew puree through a fine strainer to remove any coarse bits; the final "cream" should have the smooth, thick consistency of heavy dairy cream. This makes about 3 cups cream (consistency will depend on the amount of water added while blending, and can vary from just over 2 cups to about 3½ cups; thin as desired).

Kombu broth

4 pieces kombu seaweed (about 5 by 8 inches)

2 quarts water

Combine the kombu and water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook 40 minutes. Strain. This makes about 5 cups kombu broth, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The broth will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 10 days.

Smoked mushrooms

1 tablespoon small hickory chips

1 heaping cup diced king trumpet mushrooms

1. Prepare the stovetop smoker: Spread the chips in the base of the smoker, directly over the burner. Place the drip pan (if using) over the chips, and a rack on top of the drip pan. Place the diced mushrooms on the rack (be sure to use a rack fine enough so the mushrooms don't fall through) indirectly over the chips (do not place the mushrooms directly over the chips, as this can cause them to oversmoke and turn bitter). Cover the smoker with the lid, leaving the smoker open only a couple of inches. (If you do not have a commercial stovetop smoker, you can substitute by using a heavy roasting pan, a cake rack and heavy-duty foil to cover the pan as a lid.)

2. Heat the smoker over medium heat just until you see smoke escaping through the opening. Close the smoker entirely and gently smoke just to infuse the mushrooms with smoke flavor, not to cook, 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to oversmoke, or the mushrooms will become bitter.