Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hearty and Spicy Seitan Gratin

Being a huge 'carnivore' since I was born, I'm noticing that I'm developing more and more a need to explore vegetarian dishes. Those who know me well will tell you that I will rarely say no to eating a nice juicy medium rare ribeye steak. But lately, I find myself drawn to vegetarian and even vegan dishes, especially when they're hearty and full of flavour.
With this post and recipe, I'm hoping to slash out a major stereotype that some of my meat-eating friends and readers have towards vegetarian food...that of eating a plate composed of a few leaves of cold lettuce and strings of bitter-tasting-weird looking sprouts, and that of food that will leave your stomach growling until it is fed with proper fuel - MEAT.
There are so many reasons why a person will choose to be a vegetarian; love of animals, a dislike for the taste of meat, personal health..etc. As for my personal choice, I'll continue to eat meat because I love the taste, but I'll scout for more vegetarian recipes just because a lot of them are awesome. Some of them can make a dish taste so rich and creamy. Oh, and I love dairy products, so vegan dishes will have to wait on my recipe exploration list and will remain as side dishes for now.
Yes, I do find it quite challenging to prepare a tasty dish that's gratifying, without the MEAT, but it is possible, just like this wonderful Seitan Gratin. Seitan is another variety of soy-based food made from the gluten of wheat used in Asian and buddhist cuisines, and tastes just like ground beef. It's a flavoured soy-based product with a lightly sweet and salty bbq or teriyaki tang. Taste it first and you'll know just about how much seasoning you'll need to add to your dish. It can be found in any health food stores. This gratin is one of my favourite meals to prepare because it's so rich, tasty and takes 20 minutes to prepare. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do. There are hardly leftovers when I serve this dish to my 'carnivorous' family.
Preparation: 20 minutes, Baking: 10-15 minutes
Recipe "au pif":
1 lb Seitan, cut in small cubes and grinded in food processor
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onions
2 carrots, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/4 cups vegetarian chicken stock (found in health food sections of supermarket or health food stores)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 large russet potatoes, half cooked and very thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
1/4 cup heavy cream (or 15% champetre cream)
1/2 cup emmental cheese, grated*
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large pan (that can go in the oven) over medium high heat. Add the Seitan, stir with wooden spoon until it looks like cooked ground beef and let it brown for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the onions, carrots, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the bay leaf and tomato paste, stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and stir for about 1 minute. Gradually add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, peas and the dried chili flakes, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.*
Place a thin layer of the potato slices over the Seitan mix and drizzle half of the heavy cream over the potatoes. Repeat with 2nd layer with remainder of potato slices and cream.
Sprinkle the emmental cheese over the top and bake until browned and bubbly on top, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve hot.
Serves 4 people.


Anonymous said...

looks AMAZING! Thanks!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the introduction to Seitan.

QlinArt said...

I hope it's easy to find in the caribbeans.

Sanjana said...

This sounds gorgeous! I will have to give it a go!