Books & Literature

Book Review: The Vegan Butcher, by Zacchary Bird

COOKBOOK: The ultimate guide to plant-based meat.

Great for dinner parties, but less so for everyday meals.

Feature image credit: Rebecca Wu

First released in November 2021 and in that same year awarded winner of PETA’s cookbook of the year, The Vegan Butcher by Zacchary Bird has now released its second edition featuring a bigger, brand-new hardcover. Its popularity has led to translations in French, Dutch, and German.

This recipe book is specifically designed for meat lovers who are transitioning to a plant-based diet for ethical, environmental, or other reasons, rather than due to a dislike of meat. The author’s goal is to replicate the flavour, texture, diversity and look of meat in all his recipe creations.

With that in mind, I chose to cook the Duck Poultry (page 68) and the Tandoori Drumsticks (page 98).

Tandoori Drumsticks (page 98)

I chose this recipe as it has been very creatively designed to look like chicken drumsticks. The recipe would be useful for anyone holding a dinner party for vegans; however, they are slightly cumbersome and clunky as an everyday meal. The simplicity of this recipe and its inventiveness drew me in, as there are over 130 recipes in this book to choose from, many of which are less so.

In this recipe the cauliflower serves as the “bone” of the drumstick, the jackfruit the meat and the rice paper sheets, the skin. Unlike several other recipes in this cookbook, there is no pre-prep of ingredients and there are no substitute meats such as TVP. This is another thumbs up on this latter point, as I only like to use “real” ingredients when cooking.

This meal only requires prepping and placing the drumsticks on the oven tray, turning them over once, and grilling at the end to replicate the effect of a tandoori oven. I found whilst prepping I broke a few rice sheets so you will want to have an extra amount available and also make sure you can easily transfer them to the tray as when prepping the entire drumstick can spill apart. Surprisingly, once cooked, they are easy to pick up and do not fall apart, which I totally thought it would after my experience prepping. It was amazing!

In terms of the texture of the cauliflower and the rice skin combined with the jackfruit when eating, it is quite a nice combination. It is the yoghurt and the spice that make the taste of this dish as jackfruit, cauliflower, and rice are bland ingredients on their own, even when combined. I followed the tip and added extra chilli and it was unexpectedly flavourful. I found mine did not look as colourful as in the book; perhaps I didn’t add enough paprika?

I think this is a great dish for dinner parties with vegans attending, or for special occasions. My son did ask me why I had made it look like chicken if it is meant to be vegan which is a very valid point, however this is Bird’s intention.

Duck Poultry (page 66)

The next recipe I tried was the Duck Poultry on page 68, which we ate with boiled rice and kailaan, which was later used for the Fried Rice on page 82.

Unlike the Tandoori Drumsticks, the Fried Rice requires you to prepare and cook the Jackfruit Duck, which is on page 68, as well as have cooled cooked rice on hand. Similar to when I usually make meat-based fried rice at home on a semi-regular basis, it is good for using up leftovers of rice or meat! Consequently, it could be a useful recipe for vegans or vegetarians.

I made a gross error when purchasing the ingredients and that was with the jackfruit. I bought one in brine but somehow picked up the other tin in syrup, which meant that the meat was yellow and white as the syrup-style jackfruit was yellow. This mistake led to an interesting observation; I actually preferred the texture and flavour outcome of the one in syrup, even though you are meant to use the one in brine!

The duck poultry was a really easy recipe to make, and later it very much replicated making non-vegetarian fried rice, although I did skip on some of the ingredients, such as the vegan shrimp. I know normal shrimp can give a dull fried rice a bit of oomph with its added texture and distinct taste, so I do not know if this affected the overall design of the meal. It was just too difficult to find it as an ingredient.

Other ingredients I substituted in the fried rice including the special vegan soy sauce and the vegan oyster sauce, as I had both at home and the vegan versions would go to waste. I had no intention of buying a bottle of each for one recipe. If you are vegetarian or vegan however you will likely already have these on hand.

This was a meal that was quite enjoyable and one which I would make again. It’s useful for everyday cooking up of leftovers and will easily work as a side dish or light lunch.

Bird is talented vegan chef, and his inventive style makes vegan cooking trendy and flavourful. This recipe book is designed for those that delight in making meals look as good as they taste.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Thames and Hudson
Released: August 2022
RRP: $65

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