Cabbage Cups with Coconut Calypso Sauce

Vegan Stir Fry with Meat options – Gluten Free Goodness

In this “Time of Pandemic” not only have I been doing more cooking than ever before, I’ve been inventing new sauces and dips to keep things interesting.  My husband adores this Coconut Calypso Sauce, which was a creation based on some ingredients I heard mentioned on this season of Top Chef.  He uses it on chicken, pasta and on the Beyond Meat burgers, which he prefers to ground beef.  More on the sauce in a bit.

If you haven’t tried them yet, Beyond Meat burgers are amazing — they are soy- and gluten-free and such a fabulous substitute.  If you haven’t tried, them I highly recommend; All of my meat-eating friends and family are astounded by how much they taste like the “real thing.”   This recipe would work well with ground turkey, ground chicken, cauliflower “fried rice” and even crumbled tofu.

I have been a vegetarian most of my life (although I occasionally eat fish and seafood) but I do prepare some animal protein for my family.  You can buy the pre-formed burgers at most supermarkets now and they come in packages of 6 at a great price at Costco.  The last time I went to Publix in March (Hubby’s the designated shopper now :- ) I saw this package of ground “meat” and decided that it would be fun to do a stir fry or make some “beef” tacos.  It’s been in the freezer for a bit, but yesterday let it defrost to make a batch of lettuce wraps, using cabbage leaves as the “cups”.

For the stir fry you can use any combination of vegetables and greens.  Just cut them into small pieces so that they will mix in well with the meat base.  Here is a list of what I used (and some of what I use in a stir fry depends on what i have in the bin — but I will highlight the ones that I feel are crucial for a great stir fry)

Scallions, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, onions or shallots, mushrooms (I used a combination of shitake and white) Cilantro, peas (when I have them, I use snow peas) carrots.  I quick fried them in a combination of avocado oil and toasted sesame oil and then set them aside while I browned the “meat”.  Then I combined them together with some splashes of gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) and some coconut liquid aminos — if you haven’t tried those (my favorite brand comes from Trader Joe’s but you can find Coconut Secret in most retail or health food stores or online.  Another excellent addition to any Asian-inspired stir fry is Chinese 5 Spice.

Now, onto the Sauce!

Maybe not the healthiest, or low-carb, but this has become a staple in the past couple of months and my husband is using it on EVERYTHING!  It’s very simple to make and you will have plenty extra.  I store the leftovers in a glass jar and keep in the fridge.  The sweet and sour sauce I buy (from Walmart) is the Kikkoman Gluten-Free non-GMO.  Gochujang is a sweet and spicy Korean seasoning paste that adds a nice spicy kick, but you can substitute with siracha, I would just use less and add more to taste.  Another option is adding some of the Chinese 5 spice blend to the sauce.

Coconut Calypso Sauce

Ingredients:
2 TB. coconut or avocado oil
1-2 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
1 can coconut milk (usually 13 oz. is the size)
1/2 jar Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 can or bottle Mango Nectar*
4 TB. gochichung Korean paste (use less if you don’t like spicy, but this is not too hot)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional:  1 tsp Chinese 5-spice blend
Sesame seeds to sprinkle over Cabbage Cups

Directions:  Saute the shallot and garlic in the oil.  When soft, add the coconut milk, mango nectar and sweet and sour sauce.  Stir well.  Bring to boil and add in the Gochujang, stirring constantly.  Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let the mixture to reduce to just above half, adding any other spices that you’d like, according to your taste.  It should take 10-20 minutes to reduce.

*I also use frozen, defrosted mango pulp from Goya when I can find, which has no added sugar

You can use lettuce leaves, but the cabbage leaves were nice and study.  Fill with a heaping tablespoon or two of the “meat” mixture, top with sauce and if you like, sprinkle on some sesame or hemp seeds.  Enjoy!

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