Week Four: Memories and Traditions
One of last year’s MoFo prompts was to veganize a family recipe. Pressed for time, I didn’t actually make the recipe I chose: pepper steak. It’s been on my to-make list for literally a year, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to it — till now.
A frequent fixture at family dinners, pepper steak reads to me like a retro ’70s throwback: not very fancy, maybe a little odd (ketchup + soy sauce), but total comfort food. We always served it over mashed potatoes, where the brown sauce could shine.
It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve eaten meat, and at least that long since I had pepper steak. I was curious whether the vegan version would bring me back to those childhood meals in my grandparents’ dark wood paneled kitchen. It did, 100%. And Steven — who’d never tried this retro delicacy — enjoyed it too.
As you can see by comparing the recipe card and my recipe, I had to modify the method a bit to accommodate vegan beef strips, which don’t exactly stand up to an hour in a pan of hot liquid. But that just means this recipe comes together much quicker than the original — you’ll get it on the table in less than 30 minutes. (If serving over mashed potatoes, you can easily make them in this amount of time — just get the potatoes boiling before you start the pepper steak.)
Vegan Pepper Steak
- 1 T neutral oil, like canola
- 1/2 white onion, sliced into half-moons
- 1 large green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 package vegan beef strips (Gardein, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans)
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 C ketchup
- 1/2 T cornstarch whisked with 1 T cold water
- Mashed potatoes to serve
In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium. Sauté onions for about 3 minutes, then add peppers. Sauté for another 5 minutes, then add the beef strips. (Pour in a little vegetable broth if the pan gets dry.) Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the wet ingredients and simmer for ~7 minutes. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the sauce to thicken, then turn heat to low. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, serve over mashed potatoes.