Seitan isn’t something I use very often, primarily because I really don’t miss meat at all, and there’s no doubt that Seitan resembles meat in terms of texture.
However, every now and then, there’s a recipe that could and should be really enhanced by the use of Seitan, and this, in mho, is one such recipe.
According to Wikipedia:
“Wheat gluten is an alternative to soybean-based foods such as tofu, which are sometimes used as meat substitutes. Some types of wheat gluten have a chewy or stringy texture that resembles meat more than other substitutes. Wheat gluten is often used instead of meat in Asian, vegetarian, Buddhist, and macrobiotic cuisines. Mock duck is a common use for wheat gluten.
Wheat gluten has been documented in China since the 6th century. It was widely consumed by the Chinese as a substitute for meat, especially among adherents of Buddhism. The oldest reference to wheat gluten appears in the Qimin Yaoshu, a Chinese agricultural encyclopedia written by Jia Sixie in 535. The encyclopedia mentions noodles prepared from wheat gluten called bo duo. Wheat gluten was known as mian jin by the Song dynasty (960–1279). Wheat gluten arrived in the West by the 18th century.”
This stir-fry has all the kick and oomf of a kung fu fighter lol…big tastes, big flavours and big textures.
Of course the Seitan could be substituted with tofu or tempeh…or just left out altogether, but the texture really helps this high-kicking stir-fry along the way!
Regarding Black Bean Sauce, it’s one of the few store-bought chinese sauces that’s vegan. You can make your own if you can track down fermented salted black beans.
Here’s list of basic ingredients they can vary…) ….google it…. 😉
Vegetable Oil, Fermented Salted Black Beans, Garlic, Vegetable Stock, Dark Soy Sauce, Rice Wine, Onions, Red Pepper.
In the end though, the key to this dish is a couple of really good quality, good-sized, juicy, tangy tomatoes…. which can be a hard-ask, given that some super-market tomatoes taste of very little….
Like so many, this is a dish born of necessity: when the cupboard is bare, cook something wonderful with whatever you’ve got. In this case, cabbage and potatoes.
And in so doing, make something that transcends all expectations.
There are recipes that just live on and on. Passed down through the generations. They are changed, adapted, and personalised as they go. But essentially, they remain the same.
Caldo Verde’ translates as ‘green broth’. It is in origin, Portuguese, although I’m sure other versions will be found, wherever you can grow cabbage and potatoes.
The traditional Portuguese dish is often flavoured with chorizo sausage and/or chicken stock….. which is obviously outside my remit.
So this is my cruelty-free recipe for Caldo Verde with an entirely optional extra of marinaded hot-spice fried tempeh.
caldo verde + fried spiced tempeh + paprika oil
caldo verde + spiced fried tempeh
top with spiced tempeh
It’s my third attempt to get this dish ‘right’ for me, and I have done a fair amount of investigation of the history of it too.
The first one I used the wrong greens….and the second one was too thin. Along the way I learnt that the flavours should be simple and straightforward. There should be no messing with the simplicity of this dish.
I also read an interesting article about the type of cabbage that would be used. A lot of recipes use Kale. This one said use a hard green cabbage. I followed this suggestion as it seemed to come from an authentic source.
( I did try it with Kale, but I far prefer the hard green cabbage….)
To flavour the dish I’ve used vegetable stock, with the addition of sticks of peppery celery. I used Bay Leaves….Olive Oil…good quality Salt …and ground Black Pepper.
As is so often the case, less is more.
On a good day, Caldo Verde might be supplemented with a few slices of fried Chorizo, so I have added, as a completely optional extra, a few chunks of harissa/chipotle marinaded sautéed tempeh.
But, to be honest…Caldo Verde doesn’t need the distraction..
This is the daily food of Marathon Runners …no… Marathon Winners!
I listened to a radio programme the other day about a UK athlete who went to train with the Kenyans. He couldn’t believe the diet they trained on: Maize (polenta) and Beans. And Tea.
He said he used to pop into town and buy jars of peanut butter to supplement his own diet, because he couldn’t cope!
I found this story very inspiring, so I concocted a recipe (based on traditional Kenyan recipes), of Spicy Red Beans and Soft Polenta.
The simple fact is, that what we, in the West, have come to call “Vegan Food’, is, most of the globe over, just food. Simple ordinary sustaining, nutritious food.
I love beans, there are so many varieties and they are so versatile. Slowly, as this blog progresses, I am discovering that there are bean dishes from nearly every country across the planet. And I intend to find them all!