By Kay Stepkin, Special to Tribune Newspapers
January 2, 2013
A treasure from Asia, seitan typically offers center-of-the-plate protein in vegetarian meals. The name, from the Japanese words for "ideal protein," was apparently coined by George Ohsawa, whose work and vision led to the macrobiotic movement in the 1960s. The chewy food is also called wheat meat, mock duck and crazy chicken.
Centuries ago, Buddhist monks in China invented a method of washing the bran and starch from wheat flour, leaving the gluten and we began importing it to the U.S. in the late 1960s.
This spicy version of seitan is wonderful served over whole-grain pasta or brown rice or — in an Asian-Latin fusion — rolled into warm corn tortillas.
For added flavor, stir in some gomasio, an Asian mixture of roasted crushed sesame seeds and salt. It's another treasure from the East.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 24 minutes
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 serrano chilies, seeded, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1 pound seitan, cut in 1/2-inch strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut in 1/4-inch strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in 1/4-inch strips
3 medium tomatoes, cut in small wedges, halved crosswise
2 green onions, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/4 cup each: shredded fresh basil, cilantro leaves
1. Place the ginger, chilies and garlic in a large bowl. Whisk in the water, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, soy sauce and the sesame oil. Stir the seitan strips into this marinade; let stand 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the marinade.
2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a wide skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the seitan; cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from the pan. Add the bell peppers; cook, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan. Add the tomatoes and green onions; cook, 4 minutes.
3. Return the seitan and peppers to the skillet; add the reserved marinade. Cover; reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes and peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. If the pan gets dry, add a little water. Remove from the heat; stir in the herbs.
Per serving: 224 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 22 g protein, 336 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
Kay Stepkin is a vegetarian cooking instructor and former owner of a vegetarian restaurant/whole-grain bakery. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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