I’ve been thinking a lot about our vegetarian eating lately. Not that I wasn’t thinking before, but now that it’s in our 6th month of going vegetarian I think I know what works for us. Sometimes I get the meat craving, and when that happens I just eat meat, and sometimes I just restrain myself and find a meat substitute (fried eggs to be precise). Overall I do enjoy the vegetarian lifestyle, but once again, since I didn’t become vegetarian because of religious or ethical convictions, legalism is the key enemy in my life. I do not allow myself or my children to compare or look down on people who eat fast foods or highly processed foods. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit turned off by Vegans; I’m sure there are nice and non-judgmental Vegans out there, however, most Vegans I have encountered are highly judgmental and self righteous (where vegan piety just seeping out from their every pore!). I told you on my last post that I have Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet, and I have enjoyed looking through the recipes. I enjoy reading why someone chooses to live certain lifestyle, but in Alicia’s case it was that judgmental Vegan flashback I’ve encountered. She basically divides the foods into “Nasty foods” and “Kind foods” – under the “Nasty Foods” she lists meat, dairies, sugar, etc. I just wished she found another name other than “Nasty”. What happens if someone just can’t afford to buy locally grown organic foods? no supermarkets nearby? gets free food from the food pantry from a non-profit organizations? Come on Alicia, so do these people become “Nasty people”, just because they eat “Nasty foods”???? This process has been good for me, just thinking through how we eat, being responsible in the way we eat to have positive effects on this earth, but keeping the fine balance between legalistic and lax in food choices.
Anyway, as I have committed to the vegetarian diet for a year, I thought I’ll cook something that I haven’t cooked before – Seitan and Tempeh. Seitan is a whole wheat gluten (mostly all protein); vegetarians and vegans use this as meat substitute. Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans (and the ones sold at the Whole Foods market come in rectangular blocks). The ones I bought are the mixture of soybean, millet and other grains.
I didn’t follow particular recipes from books, I just kind of got out different veggies I had in my fridge and started to just cook. I marinated sliced seitans in bulgogi (Korean BBQ meat) marinate; Tempeh was sautéed with baked tofu (also can get from the Whole Foods or other health stores) with julienned veggies. I also made mild miso soup with seaweed, tofu, spinach and carrots. The rice I cook almost always consists of Korean short grain rice, brown sweet rice, wild rice, millets, steel cut oats, and different beans.
Since I didn’t follow particular recipe, all the measurements are approximation – you’ll have to adjust according to your taste.
Bulgogi marinated Seitan
16 ounces of Seitan (sliced into 1/2 inch thickness)
1 sweet onions, sliced
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar (if you don’t like using sugar, you can use brown rice syrup or other natural sweetner)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce (I use Kikkoman; I truly believe that Japanese soy sauce tastes so much better than other soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon mirin (Japanese condiment, this is like a sweet rice wine)
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
dash of black pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic (finely crushed and chopped)
1 Tablespoon of black sesame seeds
Mix all the ingredients (aside from Seitan and the onions) in a large bowl – make sure it’s well blended. Add the sliced Seitan and coat the Seitan very well – let the whole mixture sit on the kitchen counter for about 20 minutes. Heat a large frying pan and add olive oil, on a medium high heat sauté the onions (I also sliced 1 red bell pepper and julienned 1 carrot) and other veggies (if you wish) – cook until well cooked but still crisp. Transfer the veggies in a bowl of a plate. Add a little bit more olive oil and sauté the Seitans – it’ll only be about a minute for one side to be browned, so keep close watch! Brown both sides and transfer to a plate and arrange with the cooked veggies.
Sautéed Tempeh and Baked Tofu
1 package Tempeh, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
1 package Baked Tofu, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
2 carrots, julienned
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, skin peeled and julienned
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
2 scallions, sliced diagonally
salt, black pepper and light soy sauce – just to taste
Heat a skillet with olive oil – on a medium high heat sauté the ginger and onions for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the carrots, tempeh and baked tofu, gently stir to mix and sauté the mixture for about 5-7 minutes (until tempeh and baked tofu are semi browned). Add the salt, black pepper and light soy sauce to taste, and add the scallions.
With the miso soup, I used the light and mild miso (without MSG nor fish stock); mixed about 2-3 Tablespoons of miso in a hot water (about 5-6 cups), added julienned carrots, chopped seaweeds, and cubed tofu. Let the soup simmer for 5 minutes, and add about 2-3 cups of baby spinach.
My opinion: Steve and Anna loooooved the bulgogi seitan!! I have to admit, it definitely was tasty. However, as for myself, I can’t eat seitan often – for me, this is a once in awhile ingredient. This bulgogi seitan goes really well with rice, and because it’s whole wheat gluten, it’ll absorb any type of flavours.
Tempeh was okay. I like the baked tofu much better – for me, tempeh was too much like eating whole grain moist rye bread.
Miso soup, well, you can’t go wrong with miso soup. This is Jana’s favorite. She devoured the soup by itself, and then added rice in the soup and ate some more.