Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Covid-19 lockdown recipe 1 - homemade Vegan meat

We are preparing to go to lock-down due to the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand, this is a sad and difficult situation, and supermarket shelves often are bare of some essentials. So I will try to do a few posts with tips about cooking with ingredients that may actually be available (or am I the only one buying them?), are affordable, and go a looooong way. For example, the other day there was no flour or yeast to be found, except for some specialty flours, like corn or coconut or gluten .... one of my essentials, which I always have at home. Actually, I had these packets pictured above in the pantry already, and it seems that the packaging has recently changed, you can see it here

I usually add a little gluten flour to my pizza, focaccia and bread dough, but there is another use for this wonderful product: you can make your own vegan meat at home!!!

Easy to make, low cost and versatile, with a 500g pack (about $7.00, the new packs are 300g, listed at $4.79 in Countdown) you get about 1kg or more of finished product' and can eat for days and days and days. I like to make 'fillets' and strips, suitable for different uses. Put the gluten flour in a bowl and add seasoning (a little salt, or herbs, or what you like, even a little olive oil if you like it 'fatter'. Then add the same amount of water and mix with one hand until you get an elastic dough. Squeeze out any excess water (usually just a little if none) and set aside for 10 minutes. Cut into very thin slices with a serrated knife.

Or use scissor for thinner strips.

Place one slice at the time in a large pot of simmering vegetable broth (use plenty of broth for 500g of gluten flour, as it makes many slices and they will grow while simmering). Cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.

When the 'meat' is ready pick up piece by piece and place on a couple of clean cotton tea towels to dry for 10-20 minutes. Now it is ready to use for you favourite recipes (use the remaining stock to make soup, it is perfect for ramen!!!). If you are not using it straight away place in a sealed glass or plastic container and store in the fridge for up to two weeks (or freeze for longer periods). 

When you need a few slices just take out and sauté with a little oil in a skillet. One of my favourite uses is to brown the slices on both sides and then add some lemon juice and soy sauce and put them in a panino, or on top of rice or ramen noodles. For a smoky flavour substitute soy sauce and lemon for liquid smoke, for a mediterranean flavour, sauté in olive oil flavoured with garlic cloves, rosemary and/or sage, then sprinkle with salt (and lemon juice, if you like). Pizzaiola style: olive oil and garlic, then add some tomato paste, a little water to mix, salt and dried oregano. Add to stews and curries, cut into strips for a stir-fry (perhaps with some sesame oil, or chili), use to top bowls of noodles... this Vegan meat, also known as seitan, is super versatile, and also very filling (remember, pure gluten after all, you only need a few slices at time, just like for meat). Enjoy!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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