It's Play TimeMy most recent "Chopped" play-time-in-the-kitchen was with Seitan. This ingredient-X wasn't new to me (although I had never eaten it). I usually don't buy it because it's made from wheat gluten, and I have a son with autism (many parents of autistic children avoid wheat gluten in their child's diet). However, our son was asleep and my husband and I were craving a late-night dinner. Something light. I decided it was time to "do a Chopped dinner" (as my husband calls it). Here's what I did:
Not A Recipe--A ConceptI consulted Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and found the entry on seitan, which is made from high-protein wheat flour, water, flavorings, soy sauce, and Kombu, a mineral-rich sea vegetable. I didn't want a recipe. I wanted a concept.
The seitan, also known as "Wheat Meat," can mimic the texture of chicken and beef. Mimicking the flavor of either depends upon how seitan is seasoned. Knowing that I would add salty barbecue sauce, I seasoned both sides of the seitan chunks only with white pepper. I grilled the seitan on the stovetop, but it stuck mightily to the pan. Like a Chopped contestant, I quickly adjusted. I peeled the seitan out of the pan and transferred it to the oven. What I wanted was a bit of crunch and caramelization on the seitan.
I knew roasted red peppers would add color and tang to the salad. The Asian barbecue sauce, I drizzled on sparingly. Otherwise, I would have drowned the lettuce.
Asian Barbecue Seitan Salad
12-ounce container of seitan
1 thinly sliced roasted red pepper (from a jar or freshly roasted)
Asian or Korean barbecue sauce
1 10-ounce package of organic salad mix, rinsed
Toasted sesame seeds (buy the pre-toasted seeds)
Remove seitan from liquid and season chunks with white pepper on both sides. Pan fry or grill the seitan in hot canola oil until it browns and caramelizes. (It won't brown completely, so take care not to let it burn.) Remove seitan from pan, place in a small baking dish, and drizzle the seitan with the barbecue sauce. Top seitan with peppers and place in 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
Remove barbecued seitan from oven and let it rest and become warm. Spoon seitan carefully over salad greens. Sprinkle seitan with toasted sesame seeds and serve. (Serves 2-3)