Sunday, October 30, 2011

V eggies & Seitan in a Brown Sauce with Szechuan Style Fried Eggplant with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Sometimes I really surprise myself and get really ahead of myself.  This meal is exactly what I mean by that.  I made this on the weekend, on a Saturday when the Hubby and I were spending the day off together.  We both woke up way too early (should have definitely slept in!) and were tired midday.  Hubby, unlike me, has no issues with going back to bed and taking a nap for a couple hours.  I try as hard as possible not to do that because I know how quickly the day goes by then, and working so much really makes you want to take advantage of the time you do have off.  So, off Hubbs went to sleep, and here I was, bored and tired, but not wanting to waste the day (why do I have to be so stubborn!?), so I went through my new Vegetarian Times Magazine and since I was hungry, I decided I would ultimately make every recipe in there (well, most anyway!).  So, I realistically looked through the magazine a second time and looked through the fridge, and decided I couldn't really make anything at that moment.  So. what was I to do?  Go through my bajillions of cookbooks and find something else.  SO, I looked through all the books and settled on something I haven't really made any recipes from before - something I bought when I was a teen still living in Michigan.  The book was Linda McCartney's On Tour - Vegetarian Recipes from Around the World.  I found several recipes I could make then and there, but they were pretty damn labor intensive.  What did I have but time though, afterall?  SO, I started and several hours later (this was supposed to be time off - away from the kitchen, right???), I went and woke up the sleepy Hubby and showed him the great spread.  He was definitely surprised and impressed.  And loved every bite.  It was pretty damn tasty.  So we sat down, ate dinner and enjoyed a nice movie together.  A nice ending to a good (and tasty!) day!

Veggies & Seitan in a Brown Sauce with Szechuan Fried Eggplant with Spicy Sauce:

Serves 4

Veggies & Seitan
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper, julienned, about 1 cup
1/2 orange pepper, julienned, about 1/2 cup
1/2 yellow pepper, julienned, about 1/2 cup
1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly, about 1 1/2 cups
2 broccoli spears, cut into florets and stems peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups seitan, sliced thinly

Brown Sauce (will include recipe later)
Cooked White or Brown Rice

Fried Eggplant:
1 medium/large eggplant, peeled, sliced into 1/2" slices and cut in half
1/2" no-taste oil, such as canola

1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flax eggs
2/3 cup water

Spicy Dipping Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons red chili paste
1/2 teaspoon agave
1 large tomato, finely chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
2/3 cup water
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1.  Prep the vegetables first.  Set aside.  They will come together very quickly once everything else is going.
2.  Now prepare the dredging mixture for the eggplant - it has to sit for 15-20 minutes before it can be used.  In a small mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, sea salt and black pepper.  Whisk together (I used a fork).  Add the flax eggs and water and whisk again.  A thick batter should have formed.  Allow it to sit for the indicated amount of time, stirring occasionally.
3.  Make the spicy dipping sauce.  In a large pan over medium heat, add the oil and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the garlic and the Serrano pepper.  Saute for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant, but not browned.  Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan.  Add tomato paste, red chili paste and agave and stir until the pepper and garlic are coated.  Cook for one minute.
4.  Add the chopped tomato and the water and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat slightly and allow the sauce to continue cooking.  You want the sauce to be pretty thick - about the consistency of a thick marinara.  This will take about 10 minutes.  When the sauce has thickened, turn the heat off, cover with a lid and keep on the stove - you want the sauce to stay warm. 
5.  Begin to cook the eggplant.  Place the oil in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat.  Allow the oil to become hot.  In the meantime, Line two plates with paper towels and set aside.  Dip the eggplant slices into the mixture.  It should stick and coat the pieces very well. 
6.  The oil is ready when a drop of the batter begins sizzling and immediately comes to the surface.
7.  Make sure the eggplant slices are thoroughly coated in the mixture, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl.  Place carefully into the hot oil.  You can cook up to 5 at a time in the oil, depending on the size of your pan.  These need to cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.  If yours are cooking faster than that, your oil is too hot. 
8.  Once the eggplant slices are cooked thoroughly on both sides, place on paper towels to drain and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.  Continue cooking the rest of the eggplant.
9.  Begin cooking the seitan and veggies.  Place a large wok over high heat and add the oil.  Once the oil is hot, add all of the peppers, the onions and the broccoli.  Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently.  If the veggies appear to be sticking to the pan, add a small amount of water - this will also help to steam the veggies and let them cook faster.  Once the veggies are tender-crisp, add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the seitan and cook just until hot.
10.  Add the brown sauce by the ladleful, stirring to coat, until your desired sauciness is achieved.  I used about 2/3 of a cup of the sauce.  Stir to coat. 
11.  To serve: place a serving of the prepared rice in the center of your plate, top with the sauteed veggies and seitan mixture, followed by any additional sauce.  Place 2-3 slices of the fried eggplant (you can always get more - the plate just looks better when it's not so heaped with food!) on your plate and serve a ramekin or small bowl of the dipping sauce on the side.  That's it!  And if you're cooking for two, you'll have leftovers for the next day.  Can't wait to eat this tomorrow too!



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