Monday, February 28, 2011

Sweet and Sour Seitan from scratch. Almost.

I have had a horrendous schedule of late and today, the last day of the month, is only my 6th day off.  My wife has taken to buying seitan of late.  I can't fault her for this as she's the penultimate carnivore, (so she says), but of late has given up eating beef and her cooking has more and more of a vegan bent to it.  Don't remind her but like I say, one step at a time.  Of late.  

The product looks incredibly like the picture in the ad!
I have Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten on a recurring order through Amazon and it's almost too inexpensive to stop but I have 2 cartons of 8 boxes plus 6 boxes laying around so I stopped the subscription for awhile.  Hodgson Mill, Vital Wheat Gluten, 6.5 OZ (Pack of 8) Just in case you want to buy some RIGHT NOW I've magnanimously inserted these links.  If you buy it through these links it also will help me make a few bucks to support my extravagant order-two-different-dishes-even-though-you're-not-that-hungry-but-you-have-a-blog habit.

I also saw a video on Everyday Dish TV that mentioned some seasoning mixes and some pre-made seitan mixes called Bill's Best.  (I don't get anything if you click here).  I admit that I copped out in a way, usually I just add my own mix of "secret" spices to the vital wheat gluten and make up a batch of my "secret" stock and cook away but this recipe was made with Bill's Minit-Meat Beaf.  They have secret spices AND secret herbs.  It also is pretty incredibly simple and took about 30 minutes.

I really wanted to just avoid buying a batch of commercial seitan.  This stuff came out pretty good to be honest.

Sometimes I just start cooking with no clear direction and tonight was one of those times.  Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Philly cheese steaks, Italian?  I had no idea.
But I also had some leftover rice I was looking to use up too.

I knew I wanted to pan fry the seitan but was feeling kinda lazy.  I should have cranked up the mini deep fryer but it uses A LOT of oil so I went with the pan fry instead.  My grandmother used to use the word, "Patchke," when she referred to playing with something.  It's a cross between tinkering and playing. I'm not sure if it's Yiddish or Russian but I'm sure I'll get a comment clarifying it.

Most meals are pretty simple and straight forward, cut some stuff, get a pan, add heat, make pan sauce, add starch, eat.  So a meal like this, even though pan frying is pretty simple, adds another layer of prep ... and cleanup.

I had onions and garlic working in another pan but no clear idea yet.  You can go in a lot of directions from here.

I grabbed some peanut oil and a non stick frypan, and set it on medium heat.  I tossed some corn starch in a mixing bowl, added some salt and pepper and paused.  My eyes wandered back and forth as if on an instrument scan going down to minimums trying to beat out a snow squall, and they settled on ... 5 Spice powder.  I now had direction.  That went into the corn starch mixture too.  I cut the seitan cutlets and tossed them to coat in the corn starch mixture and started frying them up.
You can just hear the sizzle.
Now really, this could be Buffalo Wings in a heartbeat, couldn't it?

I added ginger and a sweet red pepper.  I threw in some brown sugar and then I deglazed with mirin, a sweet rice wine made from sake.  I reduced that, added some stock and let that reduce a bit.  I tossed in some Shan Jah Beng, plum wafers which rounded out the sweet side of the dish.  Two arbol chilies needed to take a swim in that pool and a few dashes of rice wine vinegar cut through the sweet with the 
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I was going to add some mushrooms to the dish but honestly, they were lost in the back of the bottom shelf of the fridge and I ain't stickin' MY hand back there.  I heard a bark come out of there once.

OK, I forgot the mushrooms.  I had some leftover corn starch and made a slurry with some water, added that and within seconds the sauce thickened up and started to sheen.
You can't buy better than this folks.  Look at those crispy yet slathered pieces of seitan.
The seitan had a nice crispy outside yet had absorbed some of the sauce.  It was a meaty seitan, just right for a hearty dish like this.

I nuked the rice and dinner was served.


Curry St John said...

Hey Marty, good for you for camping with us vegans at 54! I was 45 when I saw the light - no turning back now. Great blog - love your photos. :)

Jenn said...

Looks delicious! Great tips on the seasoning. I just realized when looking through your blog that I met you at the last veggie conquest (I made the eggplant meatballs.) I'm signed up to chef at VC 6 on 3/20.


Marty said...

Hi Curry SJ,

Yup, sorry it took me so long but really glad to be on the team now!


Yes of course I remember you. I can't cook this year, (sigh), for a multitude of reasons but keep your fingers crossed I will be there with 4 other tasters, my daughter, (sous chef), one of them.
Glad you enjoyed the blog. See you soon and good luck at VC6.

Seitan said...

It really can't be better than that. I love vegan/vegetarian food and this one in particular looks extra delicious :) Thank you for the post!!

Marty said...

Hi Seitan,

One of the things I've discovered is that if you fry anything it goes up to the top of the deliciousness list.

Thanks for stopping by.