Saturday, April 30, 2011

recipe from vegan/vegetarian chef julia simon, pt. 2

all photos by julia simon

seitan mole tamales      *vegan-ification of a chow recipe

for the seitan, you'll need:

2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup soy flour
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp smoked habanero powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar

wet mix:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6-8 dashes or 2 tablespoons smoke flavoring
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup water mixed with mock beef or mushroom bouillon

to simmer:
4 cups water
2 tablespoons Mock beef or mushroom bouillon concentrate
3 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, peeled

mix your dry ingredients thoroughly, and make a well in the center. mix your wet ingredients in a measuring cup. Using a fork first, then your hands, slowly pour the wet into the dry, working the dough as you pour. When you've emptied all of the liquid, use both hands to knead the seitan for a few minutes, until it comes together, then roll it into a short, squat cylinder.

in a wide pot, place your seitan (cut it into two pieces if need be) and pour your stock mixture over. bring it all to a boil. cover and simmer 1 hour.

no cheesecloth here, dears! you want a lighter, less dense seitan. also, putting the seitan in while the stock is cold gives it a better "crust" (thanks for the tip, ppk!).

we'll come back to the final seitan prep once we have our mole done, giving the flavors time to blend.

unlike many mole recipes, this one's free from straining - blend the sauce long enough and it'll be plenty smooth.

5-7 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (how many you use depends on their size - if your pack is mostly small chiles, use more)
4-5 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded (see above)
8 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups reserved seitan cooking liquid, to be used as needed
3 super-ripe Roma tomatoes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or earthbalance
1/3 cup raw pecans, walnuts, or cashews
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 ripe yellow plantain, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, for frying the plantains
2 tablespoons molasses or maple syrup
1-2 corn tortillas (these act as a thickening agent, use as many as you need)
1.5 ounces bittersweet vegan chocolate
1.5 tablespoons salt, or to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or earthbalance, for frying the finished sauce

in a dry skillet, toast your chiles until they have a bit of char on both sides. set aside.

toast your sesame seeds, tossing, until they're a bit brown. set aside.

in a baking pan, put your tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves. broil 5 minutes, until they're all got a bit of char. set aside.

in your skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil. sauté your plantains until they soften a bit, two minutes per side. set aside.

toast your thyme and oregano very gently in the same skillet, about 30 seconds. set aside.

put your tomatoes, onion, garlic, seeds and nuts into a blender. puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. with the motor running, add your chiles one at a time. how much stock you add here is up to you - you want to maintain as thick a consistency as possible while keeping the blender running, so add a little bit at a time until your sauce is moving again. add your herbs, the plantain, and the tortilla, and blend until the texture is very smooth, about 5 minutes - there will still be tiny bumps, but they'll be very small.

heat the remaining oil in your skillet and pour in the contents of the blender. sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes. add your chocolate and stir until it blends in completely. taste for salt and sweet, adding either sugar or salt until you're satisfied.

for the masa:

3 cups masa for tamales
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 cups vegetable or mock chicken stock, warmed
2 tsp baking powder
Salt to taste

with a whisk or hand blender, beat the shortening until it's fluffy. you could also use a stand mixer here, if you have one, with the paddle attachments.

using a fork, mix the masa, salt and baking powder. make a well in the center. slowly add your stock while mixing with your fork, continuing to work the batter until it's uniform. it'll be pretty wet, no worries!

while continuing to beat the shortening with your mixer or whisk, add the wet masa by handfuls until you've emptied your bowl. beat on low until everything's well blended. the dough will be a little wet and very spongy. set aside.

one last step for the seitan:

slice your seitan into 1/4 inch wide strips and drain on a paper towel. in a large bowl, toss the seitan with about 1/3 - 1/2 cup flour, evenly coating the strips. the flour coating will give your faux-pork an awesome crust.

heat enough oil in a skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. add your seitan in batches (took me 3) and fry until browned on each side, about 3 minutes. drain, again, on paper towels.

chop your strips roughly, into pieces less than an inch long. mix your chopped seitan with the entire batch of mole in a bowl and set aside.

bring it all together, finally:

you'll need:
30 cornhusks
a steamer, or the set up described here
dexterity and a hungry belly!

tear 3-4 husks into strips to tie your tamales with. you'll need 20-25.

flatten a husk on a cutting board and using your hands, grab 1/2 cup masa. smooth it into a rectangle in the upper-center of the husk. press about 1/4-1/3 cup mole into the center of the masa, and using the sides of the husk, roll the filling into a package. then roll the husk around the package, fold up the bottom and tie it with a strip of husk. here's that pictorial how-to from last time. set upright in your steamer or pot.

repeat until you've made 20-24 small tamales. cover with remaining husks and lid.

this is a 2-3 hour active recipe - but it makes tons of tamales and they're superb. we usually make a big batch, take it off the burner, leave it covered, and show up at a potluck with the 'males still inside, all warm and ready to eat.

serve with soy sour cream or just nosh plain. enjoy!

thank you julia of no face plate for sharing this lovely recipe!

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