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Archive for April, 2011

I make my own bread, soymilk and seitan. Yes, I’m that person. It makes me laugh, too.

That said, most of my weekly culinary chores are easy. The bread is from the Artisan Bread in Five recipe. I make a big tub of dough once every two weeks and just pull out enough to make a boule of bread any time I want it. The soymilk literally involves putting soaked soybeans into a machine and pressing a button. There. The magic is gone.

The one big PITA that I don’t do quite as often (because it’s such a PITA) is seitan, the vegan wheat-meat. Oh, seitan-making used to be easy: grab a bag of Vital Wheat Gluten from the store shelf, mix it with some water and seasonings, then boil, bake or steam for a lovely cutlet, sausage or steak. But then, I discovered making seitan from scratch: making a ball of whole wheat dough and kneading it for an eternity to develop the gluten, then washing it for hours under running cold water in order to get rid of the starch and be left with the all-important protein. The difference in taste and texture was amazing: the scratch seitan was nutty and meaty, whereas the one made from powder was just sort of..well..rubbery.  Nothing else would do now, I would need to eat only that kind of seitan. So, logically, I stopped making it because 1) It’s a PITA;  2) I’m an omnivore! I’ll just go get an actual steak! and 3) All that starch washing away from the dough ball was making my frugal heart ache.

Yesterday, I decided it was finally time to give it another go (mostly because the Darling Fiance was bugging me to).  I have no pictures of the attempt, so the actual seitan-making is for another time. This time, however, I saved all of the starchy liquid from the washing…also a PITA. I left the water to sit overnight so that the starch could settle.

The next day, I poured off all the excess water and kept the pancake-batter like slurry on the bottom. Now, what to do?

A quick google search revealed that my beloved Liang-Pi noodles are made from the remainders of seitan making!! What?? Immediately, I took a tagine, laid two chopsticks parallel to each other on the bottom of it, then laid a plate on top of that. I poured water into the tagine and set it to boil. When the whole shebang was hot enough, I ladled the batter onto the plate and spread it around, much like a crepe. Close tagine, wait 3 minutes and pray.

When I opened it up, SUCCESS!! A translucent chewy wheat crepe was waiting for me. I peeled it from the plate (also a PITA..I sense a theme. Maybe next time I’ll oil the plate) and continued with the rest of the batter. As the batter cooked, I prepared myself a Liang-pi sauce. I have no idea if it’s authentic, but it tastes close enough.  (Recipe below.) Taste explosion in my mouth!!! I had none of the veggies or lamb or seitan pieces (well those, I did, but I got lazy) but the noodles and sauce were amazing! I continued to cook away.

Now, I don’t know if you are aware, but making 2 lbs of seitan makes a shitload of starch water. After about two hours of steaming these individual noodles, I was ready to shoot myself. Then the bag of whole wheat flour I’d used caught my eye: “Chapati Flour”! From there it was a short skip to Indian food then a hop to dosas. “I’m going to make dosas!!” I cried, and my cat looked at me funny.

I pulled out the trusty crepe pan, ladled it in and swirled the batter around to make a thin layer. After about a minute, the dosa had set up and I flipped it to brown the other side. So far so good. Then, through a series of events I don’t quite understand, I found myself in the shower where I realized I’d left a crepe cooking on an open flame for lord knows how long. I jumped out of the shower and ran to the stove, where I saw what used to be a beautiful dosa/crepe all shrunken and wavy. Ah well. I picked it up and was surprised to see it wasn’t burned at all. On the contrary, it was a beautiful golden color and crispy all over. I broke off a piece and it was heavenly! And so here we are, at 11:25pm with a woman who had started out to make seitan and instead spent all her calories on roasted starch water. Mmmm.

Serve these “crackers” or flatbreads just the way you would serve any other crackers…or serve them with liang pi sauce to dip in. It’s the same dish, but with a crispy twist. Be more vigilant, and end up with a crepe/dosa and prepare it as such. Or steam the sucker and end up with glossy chewy noodles that you can top with this spicy sauce, some julienned cucumbers, cilantro, celery and some steamed greens.

FAKE LIANG PI SAUCE

  • 2 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Peanut Butter
  • 1 t Sriracha
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated

Put all the ingredients in a jar, close and shake.  When well blended, add some water, maybe about 1/2 cup or to dilute to your taste.

Scavenger Crackers

Not bad for leftovers.

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