Stir Fry ft. Mock Duck | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Fifteen

Although I really like where I live thanks to the area’s great walking paths, access to the woods, multiple pools, etc., I do not love how car-reliant it makes me. There just aren’t many places within easy walking distance. I suppose that’s more a symptom of American suburbia than my neighborhood in particular, but it still stinks. So I was bummed to learn that the nearest grocery store is closing as part of a village overhaul project. :( Granted, Global Foods is still more than two miles away, but at least it’s feasible to walk there. I’ve done it once or twice, as has Steven. And it’s definitely close enough for super-quick, “Oh crap; we need an onion” runs. Plus, because it’s an international market, it has all those fun ingredients you can’t find at the chain grocers: a million kinds of noodles, just as many types of rice, cheap and exciting produce. And bizarre canned fake meat.

I say “bizarre,” but I have a sincere and appreciative fondness for these visually unappealing cans of seitan-based meats, and I’ve bought them occasionally over the years (including this memorable experience with “seitan tidbits” eight years ago).

I have not, however, tried the canned mock duck before — at least not of my own preparation. (There’s a decent Thai place nearby that used to do a fun pineapple-y mock duck curry, but I think they’ve since taken it off the menu, unfortunately. ) So when I made a quick run to Global Foods today and discovered that all the shelf-stable foods were 20% off as part of a closing sale (sob), I picked up a small haul that included a can of mock duck and a can of — wait for it — faux pork. My god.

While the pork is still sitting in my pantry, I used the mock duck right quick. I figured it would be best as part of a stir fry, so I made this hoisin-based sauce and whipped up a stir fry with red bell peppers, broccoli, mock duck, and rice noodles.

I’ve gotta say, I really dug (Digged? Should I just not use past-tense “dig” in this context?) the mock duck here! It’s definitely the same kind that Thai place uses; I could tell by the bizarre bumpy texture that I can only assume is meant to mimic real duck meat. Never having eaten a duck, I cannot verify how realistic those bumps are. I think the key was to drain it of its excess oil, both by putting it in a colander and by literally squeezing the chunks dry. I also sliced it into smaller pieces and lightly fried it before adding the sauce, so it had a chance to get nice and crispy. It’s got a gentle, almost sweet, gamey flavor, and the crispiness was a nice foil to the softer peppers. Plus, broccoli in a stir fry is always a home run; the space between the little nubbins soaks up all the sauce for a truly enjoyable bite.

So yeah, I’m well pleased with this dinner! Now I think I’m going to do what I failed to do last night: Make a cobbler for dessert. I’m craving something sweet after that salty dinner.

If you’ve used mock duck or mock pork before, what’s your favorite preparation for it?

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A Chickwheat Seitan Fail | VeganMoFo 2019 Day One

Y’all. Y’ALL. I’m starting VeganMoFo with an epically wonderful fail. It seems appropriate in this new era of raw, unvarnished blogging, right?!

Yesterday evening I decided to get a head start on today’s dinner by preparing some seitan — specifically, the chickwheat shreds from Avocados and Ales. Let it be known that I’ve made seitan plenty of times in the past, using recipes from plenty of different sources. Although I’ve never been able to get it quite as juicy and tender as the kind you buy at the store, it’s always been perfectly fine, and I’ve never had any of the difficulties or spectacular fails I’ve read from other folks who’ve attempted seitan. (Ah, hubris.) So I was excited to try this recipe, which uses a new-to-me method: a long, intense kneading period in a food processor or KitchenAid rather than a few quick kneads by hand. I loved the look of the resulting chicken-style shreds and planned to use them in a quick stir-fry tonight.

Well. I blended up all the wet ingredients before adding the vital wheat gluten. As I stirred it all together, I thought the texture seemed… off. The dough was much softer, smoother and more liquidy than seitans of yore, and I couldn’t detect any of the distinctive gluten strands that tend to form as soon as you add the wheat gluten. But I persevered, dumping the mass into my KitchenAid (fitted with the dough hook) and beginning to knead.

And knead. And knead. And knead.

Rosie is judging me for my seitan fail. I GET IT, ROSIE.

Occasionally I stopped to check the dough, and I began to sense that something was amiss. There were a few stringy strands, sure, but nowhere near the amount I get even when kneading by hand. I’d reached the point where I had to make a decision: Either abandon the project or persevere — knowing that something was dreadfully, fundamentally wrong with my dough and that the results would likely not be as intended. I chose the latter. Maybe it would be edible, if not perfect. This is what I get for my hubris, I thought to myself. I shouldn’t have been so smug about seitan-making!

After 20 minutes (the time recommended by commenters who had also used the KitchenAid method!) my poor mixer was hot and my sad dough was… awful. Basically soft, sticky taffy. I dumped it all out onto aluminum foil as recommended and tried to fold it up into a packet, only to look on in absolute horror as the taffy-seitan oozed right out of the crevices. Panicking, I tried lifting it up to rearrange it on the foil. My hands sunk deep into the ooze and the foil ripped, a big glob of dough (batter?!) still attached.

Eventually I managed to wrangle about half the dough onto a new piece of foil, which I quickly wrapped up and dropped into my steamer. (The recipe calls for an InstantPot, but commenters say it works fine in a stovetop steamer too.) By now I knew the texture was wrong, but perhaps it would become something edible in the steamer.

It did not.

Two hours later (well past my bedtime) I removed the swollen foil packet and set it to cool for a few minutes. When I cautiously peeled back the foil and poked at the blob within, I realized it hadn’t improved with steaming. It was soft and squishy and could absolutely, positively not withstand the post-steam shredding that makes the chickwheat recipe so tantalizing.

As I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed, I had a sudden and horrible thought. I ran to the pantry and checked the flour shelf. Here’s what I saw.

A very obviously labeled bag of chickpea flour next to a canister of another flour.

On the left is a glass canister of white whole wheat flour. On the left is a bag — a very clearly, very obviously labeled bag — of vital wheat gluten.

Guess which one I used.

Sigh.

IN MY DEFENSE, I used to keep my vital wheat gluten in that jar, and Steven was the one who repurposed it for the white whole wheat flour a few weeks ago, so I didn’t have a tactile memory of putting flour in the jar. In my mind, it was still wheat gluten. Also, when I made the chickwheat, I measured the flour/wheat gluten by weight, so I just poured it in — I didn’t really look too closely at the consistency of the flour I used, or I would have noticed it didn’t have the very specific, silky texture of vital wheat gluten.

Frankly, I’m shocked it even remotely resembled seitan. There were definitely some strings forming when I kneaded it, likely because whole wheat flour has a slightly higher protein content than all-purpose flour. (And yes, I know one can make vital wheat gluten from flour.) I don’t know what I’ll do with the monstrosity, but I might try to flatten and fry it up into some kind of patty? Or dice it and fry it? We’ll see. Mostly I’m mad I used so much electricity kneading and steaming the dough, but hey, we have solar panels so at least I don’t have to be too guilty.

As for dinner, I made a quick fried rice, loosely following the method in Appetite for Reduction. I used green beans and garlic from my garden (woo!) along with a bell pepper from the farmers market and a shallot from the… grocery store. (I also used ginger paste, which it such a lifesaver when you don’t have fresh ginger!) It was good. It would’ve been better with some chickwheat shreds. Next time.

And with this illustrious beginning to MoFo, I’m off to the gym, a new habit for me. I lift weights! I have defined muscles! I wish I had the added protein from chickwheat shreds coursing through my veins so I could get even more ripped! NEXT TIME.

P.S. I see that today’s MoFo prompt asks participants to introduce themselves. You can check out my bio here — it’s still accurate!

P.P.S. In retrospect I know I should’ve taken more photos of my chickwheat process, but hey… I expected it to come out perfectly and I didn’t realize I’d need to document my failure. Oh well.

Vegan Hand-Raised Meat Pies

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Two: International Week

If you read the title and thought, “Hmm, someone’s been watching The Great British Bake Off,” you’ve got it! Steven and I spent the past few months binging on all seven seasons, and I’m so very sad it’s ended for good. One positive note? I now have a massive list of British bakes to veganize and master! Perfect for international week. (Given yesterday’s recipe for Irish farls, it seems like I’m working my way across the British Isles!)

I recently tried my hand at vegan meat pies made with a hot water crust pastry. Lacking a pastry dolly (of course Paul Hollywood has a branded one for sale!), I wrapped my pastry around a glass and it worked just fine. My filling is relatively simple, just homemade seitan and lots of veggies, but you could use vegan sausage or beef crumbles and complementary vegetables.

Vegan Hand-Raised Meat Pies // govegga.com

Be sure to read through the recipe before beginning — hot water crust pastry can be temperamental, and you need your filling ready to go before you start the pastry. As it cools, it becomes difficult to work with.

Hand-Raised Seitan and Veggie Pies

Makes six pies

For the pie filling

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 cup seitan, diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 T vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T ketchup

For the hot water crust

  • Follow the directions here. I added dried sage to my crust for a little extra flavor.

Method

First, prepare the filling. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium, then add onions and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, carrot, and leek and sauté for another 5 minutes or until all veggies are soft. Add the spices and seitan and cook for another 2 minutes, then stir in the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Turn off stove but leave on the burner.

Next, preheat your oven to 425˚F and prepare your hot water crust pastry according to the instructions here. Working quickly, use a small drinking glass (about 3″ diameter) to mark the base of the pie (don’t cut out this smaller circle), and use a knife to cut a rough circle around it — add about 1″ extra, for a circle about  4″ in diameter. Wrap the pastry around the drinking glass to form the pie crusts.

For the lids/tops, cut circles a little larger than the diameter of the pie crusts. (You can use another drinking glass if necessary.) Cut a small hole or slash in the tops. Place all raised crusts on a baking sheet. Add filling to the pie crusts, all the way to the top, then place the pie lids on top. Wet your fingers and gently crimp the crust to attach the lids.

Optionally, brush with an aquafaba wash before baking. You can also use pastry leftovers to add decorative leaves, etc.

Bake for 35 minutes or until pastry is golden-brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before eating.

Notes

  • Brushing the pastry crust with aquafaba will give it a nice shine akin to an egg wash. Alas; I was out of aquafaba the day I made these!
  • Feel free to experiment with the fillings — the crust is pretty good at holding it in, so something saucier would likely work just fine.

PIN IT

Vegan Hand-Raised Meat Pies // govegga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: If you’re in the United States, I sincerely hope you’re voting today… and not supporting a candidate who represents the worst of humanity.

A Veganized Family Recipe: Pepper Steak

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 20: Veganize an old family recipe.

Full disclosure: This is going to be a quick and dirty (and kind of cheater-y!) post! This has been a super duper busy weekend visiting my family in RI, and I just haven’t had a chance to actually make this recipe. But I know exactly which recipe I would veganize: pepper steak. I haven’t eaten it for years, yet I can vividly remember many dinners that included this recipe alongside mashed potatoes. I have a particularly fond memory of eating it at my grandmother’s table, surrounded by family. And I have this recipe card, with my mom’s distinctive handwriting (albeit a version  from ~20 years ago!) and lots of stains from years of use.

peppersteak

Veganizing this recipe would be pretty simple — I’d just use steak-style “beef” strips (homemade via Miyoko?!), vegan Worcestershire sauce, veg “beef” broth, and a reduced cooking time. I’d serve it with mashed potatoes and some extra gravy, and I’d savor the cruelty-free version of a childhood favorite.