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Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Special Meal: Curried Seitan, Jeweled Couscous, and Veggie Fries with a Spicy Dijon Aioli

I call this a special meal because not only does it taste and look great, but it can also take a long time if you make everything from scratch. I decided to make seitan for the first time. I first had this "wheat meat" in Munich Germany and it was love at first bite. It was served in an Asian take-out box on a skewer with spiced chickpea couscous and a curry satay sauce which inspired this more Middle Eastern version. If you want, you can simply buy a package of seitan at the store, but I never get to Whole Foods, so I decided a science experiment was in order! Although I generally avoid gluten, this treat is packed with Vitamin C and protein, so I'm digging in. Read below for directions or skip right to the cooking preparation and other ingredients :)

Homemade Seitan

Prep: 5 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes | Yields: 1.5 lbs (enough to serve 3)

1 package of Vital Wheat Gluten (8oz)
3 TBS Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

For the simmering broth:
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup liquid aminos
1 tbs liquid smoke
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp chili powder
3-4 slices onion

In a broth pot, bring the simmering ingredients to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Pour the liquid into the flour and begin mixing immediately. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. You can't overwork this stuff. Press the dough out flat on a cutting board. You can either cook it in blocks or strips. I did both. The seitan will swell while cooking, so make it thinner than you want your finished product to be. Turn the broth to simmer and add carefully. Crack the lid and cook for 45 minutes. You want to check every 15, turn, and make sure everything looks good (this broth smells great, so save it for soup!).

While this is cooking, prepare your marinade.

1/4 cup curry powder
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1 onion, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbs salt
2 tbs red curry paste (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Whisk and let the flavors begin to infuse at room temperature.

When the seitan is done, remove with tongs and let it sit in a strainer for a few minutes (this is more to cool off than dry). Mine was quickly cool enough to handle. Place on your cutting board and cut into strips, then dice into 1-inch cubes. In a Ziploc gallon bag or tubberware, toss your seitan in your marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning halfway through.

While this was marinating, I chopped my veggies. Honestly, this was kind of fridge cleaning. I had veggies from the garden that I wanted to use and veggies that were gonna go bad if I didn't. I used approximately:
2 large carrots
2 cups of green beans
and part of a giant wild zucchini that makes it impossible to determine how much

While your seitan is still marinating, go over here and read this awesome recipe for Zucchini Fries that I utilized. I also used her killer flax mayo recipe, but forewarning, if you're gonna half it you'll need to doctor it up with ener-g egg replacer and a little liquid lecithin.

Now that you've made the fry coating, and your seitan of epicosity is ready, pour it in a baking pan with half the marinade. It should look something like this.

It is beautiful, I know. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the directions to prepare the zucchini fries. They are simple and yet so delicious. I had leftover crumbs so after cutting my carrots and green beans which were lightly tossed in evoo and spread on a smaller baking sheet I poured the almond meal over the green beans.

Each item requires a different cooking time, but by staggering when you put them in the oven, they can all be cooked at the same temperature and finish at the same time. When your oven is ready, put the zucchini fries in (these take the longest, at 40 minutes). The carrots and green beans will take about 15-20 minutes, and the seitan will take about 20 so just keep an eye on things and use your nose. With 15 minutes left I flipped all my veggies (except the green beans) and stirred my seitan, adding the rest of my marinade.

Now about this glorious Jeweled Couscous:

Prep: >5 minutes | Cook: 10-15 minutes | Serves: 4

1 cup dry couscous
2 cups water
1 small onion, minced
1-2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup pistachio nutmeats and almond slivers
3/4 cup raisins, preferably golden but I only had red
4 tbs of red or white wine
4 tbs of vegan butter
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1-2 celery stalks (depending on size)
1/2 an Orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak your raisins in the water. Wash and cut your veggies. In a medium-large pot, sauté them in a little evoo. When onions are transparent and fragrant, add your saffron. Stir and add butter. When melted, add the wine and water (reserving raisins). Let this simmer a bit and bring to a boil. Stir in your couscous, cinnamon and other spices. Cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes. When most the liquid is absorbed, stir in the nuts and raisins plus cilantro. Cook uncovered for a few more minutes, if necessary.

When everything is done, plate it as artistically or hungrily as you want. Drizzle some marinade or fry sauce on your seitan. If you want a couscous dome, use a small ramekin or glass bowl that fits in your palm and pack down the couscous with a spoon back. Place the plate over the top of the bowl and flip it, then lift up the bowl carefully. I like this method of presenting the couscous because it is like treasure when you dig in and the "jewels" fall out.

Enjoy :)

This can also be seen on my personal Instagram

Create, share, love at first bite!