Vegan Dinuguan with Activated Charcoal by
Content Creator and Founder of Astig Vegan
Every Filipino has eaten a vegan Filipino dish. It’s a bold claim but it also happens to be true. RG Enriquez-Diez, the Astig Vegan, enumerates commonly-found and widely-loved Filipino classics that are free of animal products: suman, adobong kangkong, ginisang munggo… She keeps going but we’re convinced. She had us at suman.
RG challenges any misperceptions of vegan Filipino cuisine with her YouTube channel’s catchphrase: “Filipino food can be vegan, healthy, and delicious without losing its soul.” She proves this with her approach to recipe development – working with the original recipe first, taking time to understand it’s soul and how to best preserve it. Next, she’ll eliminate the animal products and brainstorm ways to appropriately substitute them. “What people cling onto isn’t the animal product,” RG says. “It’s the experience you had from eating it.”
“What people cling onto isn’t the animal product, it’s the experience.”
This approach underpins her Vegan Dinuguan recipe which you can find on this page. It was based on her uncle Daddy Noynoy’s specialty dinuguan which she describes as less tangy and more sweet. In her research, RG found existing vegan dinuguan recipes that recommended black beans to recreate the dark sauce usually achieved with pig’s blood. While the recipes were delicious, RG noticed that the beans created more of a grey color than black. She explored other vegan-friendly blackening ingredients used in the Southern Philippines like black sesame or charred coconut. She settled on activated charcoal, which she stresses is optional. “It’s optional,” she reassures. “I don’t want to make it inaccessible. Organic black beans can also work.”
Activated charcoal, considered by some as a detoxifying ingredient, is a very effective pigment for food so use only a small amount. A dash is plenty.
- 1/4 cup cooking oil for frying the tofu, reserve about two tablespoons for the saute later
- 2 cups cubed firm tofu
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed, and minced
- 1 medium onion, peeled and minced
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups oyster mushrooms, sliced
- 3-5 long green chili pepper or "siling pang-Sigang" (other green chili peppers can be used). Leave them whole but if you want the stew to be spicy, you can chop them in pieces.
- 1 can (about 15 ounces) organic black beans, pureed
- 3-4 tablespoons of mushroom broth powder mixed in 1 cup water, or 1 cup liquid vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon vinegar, or more if preferred
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- dash of activated black charcoal for food coloring
- Fry tofu in oil over high heat until the tofu is golden brown on all sides.
- Lower the heat and add garlic, onions, and salt. Saute until tender.
- Follow with oyster mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are slightly tender.
- Pour the broth and black bean puree. Mix well.
- Season with sugar, vinegar, and chili pepper.
- Add a dash of charcoal powder until you reach your preferred black look.
- Mix well and simmer uncovered for 5-7 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning to taste. Add more vinegar if you want it tangier. The vinegar should have mellowed down and the flavors should be savory with a slight sweetness and tang. If you need it to be more savory, add more broth and/or salt.
- Turn off the heat and serve hot with steamed rice or with Filipino steamed rice cakes called "puto".
- You can slice or dice the chili pepper to make your Dinuguan spicy.
- Get organic black beans if possible. Organic black beans not only will taste better than conventional black beans, but organic will also have better color.