Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vegan MoFo: Longan barbeque seitan (L is for Longan)

Another brief post today because (you guessed it) I'm exhausted. I always compose MoFo posts in my head throughout the day and inevitably they're a bit more interesting than what actually gets posted... because by the time I actually reach the point of writing the post, I'm tired and a bit loopy and just not that coherent anymore. Anyway.

It's Wednesday, and I missed the farmer's market again-- I was at work late and then just too tired to go. But Josh got some good stuff. Here's the haul, which again won't give you many hints about this week:

Farmers' market 10/12/11

Back to MoFo: for L, I had wanted to do lychee. I recently had fresh lychee (as in not from a can; it's still "fresh" in the sense that it's been shipped halfway across the world and has been sitting at the Japanese market for who knows how long) for the first time and had it on my list of possible L foods. Josh had to stay home with the Emperor on Monday (no preschool on Columbus day, puke) and decided to go on a field trip to San Jose and asked if I wanted anything from the asian market... so I jumped at the chance to move forward with the lychee plan.

However, he went to a different market than the one we usually go to (Mitsuwa) and the one he went to (Lion) didn't have lychees! Aaaaaaah! MoFo was in terrible peril! And then he found longan instead.


Peeled on the left, not peeled on the right. If you know what fresh lychee looks like, you're probably thinking, "my, that looks like the same exact thing." Well, they're slightly different, but they are closely related. Fresh lychee's bumpier and redder on the outside, and lychee fruit is sweeter. To me, longan's a little sweet, a little sour, a little bland. Not the world's most fascinating fruit. I read that they could be used more or less interchangeably with lychee, and then I read that lots of people like lychee chopped up in barbeque sauce, and then I decided to play with one of my all time favorite recipes ever.

The original recipe came from this book, which might be the defining the cookbook of my childhood:

Formative tome from my childhood

My mom and stepdad used to cook out of this book all the time when I was a little kid. It's where I got my love of Thai food, sriracha, soy sauce, coconut pancakes, and many other things besides. When I was in college, my mom gave me her copy-- she told me that the recipes she liked out of it, she'd made so many times she had them memorized. Her copy was objectively pretty disgusting, covered in all sorts of foods and saturated, absolutely saturated, with cigarette smoke. But I clung to it for years and years, even after I found a remaindered copy (see picture) in Santa Cruz a couple of years ago. I finally got rid of her copy when we moved this last time because I couldn't really justify keeping two copies of the same cookbook and that one was really just pretty stinky and falling apart-y.

It's an interesting book in that it was written in the 80s, when a lot of asian ingredients weren't widely available in the US. It has some fairly authentic recipes and then tips on how to make your own 80s-y close as you can get with no asian market ingredients. Like how to make coconut milk using... get this... shredded coconut and... milk. Heh. Some of it is pretty funny in hindsight, but I understand why it made sense at the time.

I've never made anything out of it that I haven't liked, and that's saying a lot considering that it is one of the least veg friendly cookbooks I've ever owned and there's always a significant amount of finger crossing that goes into veganizing any of it.

Oh, you wanted to hear about the longan barbeque. Right! Right! Back to that. I'm posting my recipe because a) it is significantly different than the one in the book, even without the longan and b) I'm pretty sure this book is pretty much out of print forever now. Which's too bad. But anyway, here we are.

Longan barbecued seitan

Seared seitan in longan barbeque sauce

1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tbsp peanut or canola oil
2 tbsps molasses
2 tbsps agave
1 inch piece of ginger root, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sriracha
1/2c low sodium soy sauce
1/4c sake
1 heaping cup chopped longan
1 lb seitan (I used the American Vegan Kitchen Savory Seitan recipe), cut into 1 inch wide strips

1. Combine 5 spice, oil, molasses, and agave in a mixing bowl and mix til smooth. It really helps to pour the oil into the tablespoon before the molasses/agave so measure that first.
2. Add in the ginger, garlic, sriracha, soy sauce, and sake and mix thoroughly.
3. Then add in the longan and stir again.
4. Submerge the seitan strips in the sauce and let stand for at least 30 minutes to marinate. Longer = better but 30 minutes is fine.
5. Preheat the oven to 450F.
6. Put seitan on rimmed (essential! do not use a sheet without a rim!) baking sheet or in roasting pan, pour a little marinade (including longan chunks) on top and bake for 7 minutes.
7. Flip, baste with more marinade, and cook for another 7 minutes.
8. Turn the oven to broil and broil until the edges of the seitan start to char a little, about 3 minutes.
9. Pour a little more sauce over the strips before you serve.
I've made a great many variations on this sauce over the years, and this one was just really good. I'm not sure how much the longan added... I liked the additional texture, sort of reminded me of pearl onions. But I couldn't really say that I could pick out the longan flavor. Oh well. Even if the longan wasn't a terribly successful experiment, I was so happy to make and eat this, and so delighted with how it turned out and the good memories I had while putting it together.

The AVK seitan works WONDERFULLY in this recipe and we all loved it. It worked better than some other proteins I've used other variations of this sauce on (tofu, canned mock duck, etc).

Even the Emperor liked it! He ate two big strips of seitan and a ton of quinoa (I told him it was called "quinoa rice" and he is now convinced that it is called "green rice" which seems to work for him). We also had the end of the kale salad from yesterday with dinner and like yesterday, he wouldn't touch it. Ah, that's life I guess...

By the way, I may have taken the cutest picture of him ever, I'm not sure:



CraftyEarthMama said...

Looks delish. I've never cooked with longans.
And yes, that is a super cute picture, love it!

Anonymous said...

My very veggie 14-year old daughter just came in as I was looking at your bbq seitan and said, "That doesn't look very vegan!" Nice job! Now I have to try it!

ZuckerBaby said...

Yes. Yes please. It's coming up to BBQ season in Oz, I may just have to try this out!!

Anonymous said...

I love how you use the most unique ingredients! Your creativity is drool-worthy (just looking at your dinner makes me hungry!) xo, Cara

Amey said...

so fun! you are ROCKIN' the mofo!!!!! i love the nostalgic memories of that cookbook, so sweet!

Veganosaurus said...

I have to admit that I come here regularly now just to look at the Emperor pics. :)

This one's super cute but my fave so far is the one where he's eating the pear.

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