October 15, 2009 by
Breaded seitan cutlets frying happily away.
Put down that Tofurky! Don’t torture your vegetarian friends while going broke on their behalf. With just a few easy steps, and a couple hours of cooking and cooling, you can have a delicious and thrifty vegan alternative.
I grew up eating a lot of Chinese food, and what with 2 1/2 millenia of Buddhism, Chinese cuisines feature some of the most wonderful vegetarian foods. I’ve always been especially fond of seitan in its many guises. I like how it’s dense and chewy in a way that’s fairly unique in the veggie protein world.
After I complained about how pricey it’s gotten (nearly $10 a pound from a local company!), a friend clandestinely told me that she had worked out The Best Recipe for it. But that it was a little complicated, and that it had taken her 9 years to develop, and that she wasn’t sure she could bring herself to share the recipe.
I think I had nearly convinced her to do so when I came across this one from my very favorite vegan blog, Post Punk Kitchen.
I almost felt guilty for having found a recipe that’s so easy, and that costs about a quarter what it would to buy it pre-made. I’ve made it three times, and haven’t had it fail. Though it grated on my attention-deficit nature, I followed the instructions exactly, especially about the temperature of the water when the seitan goes in (cold) and the time that the seitan stays in the broth after cooking (a while).
Give it a whirl. You can double it and freeze some to have around when vegetarian friends drop by, or make it ahead for a holiday dinner. Your guests will thank you, and you will bask in the glow of gratitude and thriftiness.
From Post Punk Kitchen
- 1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 cup very cold water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 10 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- In a large bowl, mix together vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast flakes.
- In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients: water or broth, soy sauce. tomato paste, garlic, lemon zest.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. [It's really cool how the wet mess turns into this spongy thing right before your eyes!] Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don’t start boiling it.
- Now roll your dough into a log shape about 8 inches long and cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Place the pieces in the broth. It is important that the liquid be very cold when you add the dough, as it helps with the texture and ensures that it doesn’t fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.
- When the water has come to a boil set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the pieces every now and again.
- Now you’ve got seitan. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.
What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealable container covered in the simmering broth.
June 05, 2009 by
Paprika Braised Seitan with Chick Pea Mash
So I was out trolling for interesting meals to cook for my turn in the cohousing kitchen, when I had the good fortune to stumble on “Eat for Eight Bucks” on Serious Eats, where Michele Humes posts excellent recipes for feeding 4 people for – yes! – $8 or less. Paprika-Braised Chicken with Mashed Chick-Peas and Crispy Shallots? Yes, please!
For the vegetarian version, seitan seemed like the right protein, and I was excited to try this recipe from the always-reliable postpunkkitchen. If you’ve ever been tempted to make your own seitan, I really encourage you to give this one a try. Now that we can easily purchase vital wheat gluten, it’s simple – if just a little time-consuming because of how long it has to cook – but so delicious and will cost you a quarter of what store-bought seitan will.
So we made two batches: the Braised Chicken and Braised Seitan, each with a mild smothering of vegetables. We followed Michele’s recipe with a few exceptions:
- The seitan version used the homemade seitan cut into slices, and used just like the chicken, but not cooked as long.
- In spite of the clear flavor benefit it would provide, I left the salt pork out of the chicken version.
- To add in more flavor, we used strong mushroom broth and smoked paprika.
- We doubled the amount of all vegetables, and substituted more shallots for onion.
- Rather than frozen spinach, we were lucky enough to have fresh greens from the cohousing garden, which meant chard, kale, and mustard greens that we cleaned, blanched, and chopped before adding to the dish.
- We added whole canned chick peas to the seitan braise because we wanted to make sure to give a nice, substantial meal to the veg folks.
- According to fire code, we’re not allowed to deep-fry in the community kitchen because we don’t have the proper ventilation system. Though in my heart I wanted to rebel, we oven-roasted the slivered shallots in olive oil for 20 minutes at 400, just until they were on the verge of burning.
The sleeper star of this meal was the mashed chick peas, which were very simply rinsed, then thoroughly pureed with a generous amount of olive oil and just a little salt. When we tasted to correct seasoning, I was ready to jump in with this or that, but realized that the creamy simplicity was just right as is. What a great side, and I’ll be pulling it out often.
For dessert, I was inspired by Coconut & Lime’s Roasted Pineapple-Five Spice Sorbet. I loved the idea of the crazy flavor combination but since I don’t love cinnamon, I substituted fennel seed (which I lightly crushed) and then placed in a tea ball along with a quarter of a vanilla bean, and brought to a boil in the pineapple juice. My trusty Cuisinart ice cream maker (thanks Dad!) quickly made it into a frozen vegan treat with no added sugar.
And now on to my search for July’s meal. Any ideas?
April 25, 2009 by
This is the last recipe I’m going to post from last week’s baby shower. The grandmom-to-be wanted a chicken salad, definitely light, definitely no mayonnaise. We tossed around some ideas, and agreed on this one. It’s really nice – light and flavorful and fresh. If you’d like it vegetarian, seitan would be a good substitution for the chicken, and umeboshi vinegar for the fish sauce.
Sesame-Lime Chicken Salad
- 4 halves of skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 1/2 each of red, yellow & orange bell peppers, seeded, cut across horizontally, and then into thin strips
- 2 cups snow peas, steamed for 2 minutes and then shocked by plunging into cold water, drained
- 3/4 c. olive oil
- 3 T. lime juice
- 3 T. fish sauce (or umeboshi vinegar or additional soy sauce if you don’t have fish sauce
- 1 T. soy sauce or tamari
- 1 T. sesame oil
- 1 clove (or more) chopped fresh garlic
- 1 T. sesame seeds, toasted on low temperature for 5 minutes in toaster oven
- 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
Steam the chicken (a pot with a pasta-type insert works well) over boiling water for 35 or 40 minutes. Move around the chicken in the pot a couple of times during cooking to make sure all the surfaces are being cooked. Remove from heat to a cutting board, and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes before slicing into strips. (Try to use a good, sharp knife so you don’t overly shred the meat.) Let cool, then toss with vegetables in a large bowl. Set aside while you make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients in a medium bowl until well emulsified.
Pour half of dressing over chicken and vegetables and toss well. Taste, and add more to taste. Taste salad for salt, adding more tamari or lime juice as necessary. Just before serving, top with cilantro and sesame seeds. Unless you too make the rookie move of buying flat-leaf parsley by mistake, in which case you could decide whether to skip the green garnish or just go ahead and use it anyway.