Wok Wednesday – Hoisin Explosion Seitan

Hoisin Explosion Seitan

Hoisin Explosion Seitan

It's that time again! Wok Wednesday is upon us once more and this week we're doing Hoisin Explosion Chicken. Or rather, everyone else was. I was dining in my Zone of Seclusion this time and so I used seitan in place of the chicken. As usual, the original recipe can be found in Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge

I thought the most interesting part of the recipe this time was the "velveting" of the protein. Chicken, as I'm sure most of us have noticed, dries out very quickly when cooked. Velveting involves using a wash of egg white and cornstarch to form a shell around the chicken to seal the moisture in. Trying translate that into both vegan and low-carb terms was a bit challenging to say the least. Progress was made but I'm still not entirely sure I've conquered it.

On the other hand, I love hoisin sauce and so this was a wonderful chance to consume more of it. Great dish and quite simple once you get past the technical aspects of it. It may even have given me some ideas. 😉

Be sure to visit the Wok Wednesdays blog and check out everyone else's  versions!

Sometimes, life is good

Baby bok choyLiving out here in flyover country, it can be real easy to become jealous of those who live in major metropolitan areas. Folks who can always get the latest exotic produce. But, sometimes the gods of produce smile upon us.

While I was walking through the local mega-mart, I saw some lovely baby bok choy. And I felt moved to feature them in a dish. And as I was fighting a head cold, a chance to make one of the Thai dishes I always worried was too hot presented itself. So I decided to make some Pad Korat. I can say it was certainly hot. But what the hey, that's how it was advertised!Pad Korat

You can get the original recipe here from the folks at Import Food.

Sometimes, the gods of veg do smile down upon us. So keep your eyes open and maybe you too will get lucky!

Meet your Ingredients – Grits vs Polenta

Uncooked polentaIs it all just cornmeal? Or is there something different about grits, polenta or even plain old cornmeal? And then there's masa harina, what's up with that?

Masa probably deserves its own post so let's just look at grits and polenta. Are they the same thing? As with so many items in life, the answer is yes, and no.

Not really satisfying, huh? OK, let's drill down a little further. Both are just ground corn, otherwise known as cornmeal. Boiling either will produce grits or polenta, depending on where your ancestors hail from.

But, and you knew this was coming, it can be rather more complicated than that. Different types of corn produce meal that varies quite a bit in its properties. Such as taste, storage, or even color. I've drawn on Anson Mills website for a great deal of the corn information that follows. They're a great place to get artisan grains and meals. And more information about them than you ever dreamed existed.

The corn that was exported to Italy in the 17th century was what is known as hard flint corn. This corn has an extremely hard  kernel and takes multiple passes through a mill to produce a fine meal. This characteristic is also what gives polenta it's firm texture when cooked.

Corn in the American South however tended to be what is called soft dent corn. As you might expect from the name, the kernels in this corn were softer and could be ground in a single pass through a mill. The resulting product is a less uniform particle size and a less firm consistency when cooked.

So, where does that leave us? As a practical matter, unless your miller is willing to tell you precisely what kind of corn went into your meal, grits and polenta are interchangeable. If you do know, flint is for polenta and dent is for grits.

And what about white vs. yellow vs. ??? I think that's best left for another time.

Meet your ingredients: Mustard Oil

Mustard Oil and Seeds

Mustard Oil and Seeds

In the US at least, if you buy a bottle of mustard oil, it'll say "for external use only". Now as much as I like to make fun of people who need warnings like that, why would I want to cook with it? Am I stupid or what? Leaving the larger question of my intelligence for others to answer, let's see what the problem with mustard oil might be and whether we really need to be concerned.

The main concern about the oil is that it contains erucic acid which used to be thought highly toxic to humans. That was based on studies in rats, who are not as able to digest the oil as humans. So keeping your rats away from the mustard oil stash would be a good idea.

Now, having said that mustard oil is safe, I must admit to handling it a bit differently than other oils I use for cooking. First off, I never use it by itself. I normally dilute it 50:50 with whatever other oil I'm using. And I always heat it to the smoke point before adding the remaining oil. That's to reduce the strong odor and taste associated with the oil.

Mustard oil is an important part of cuisine in some areas of India and we can enjoy the flavor it brings to food in our cooking as well. Just be aware of the issues with it and use it properly. And if you'd like some more scientific information about mustard oil and erucic acid, you can download an article here.

Wok Wednesdays – Curried Tempeh

Curried TempehOur Wok Wednesday project this time out was Stir-fried Curried Beef. As always, the original recipe can be found in Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.
As I was going to be the only one eating, I went ahead and veganized the recipe. I didn't change a lot, subbed out the beef for tempeh, subbed veggie broth for the chicken and added a little more liquid to the tempeh marinade.

Curried Tempeh
Recipe type: Stir Fry
Cuisine: Chinese
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
Bowl A
  • 8 oz tempeh, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons dry sherry
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
Bowl B
  • ⅓ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
Bowl C
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, shredded
Bowl D
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
Bowl E
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 16 oz bag frozen peas, thawed
  • ¼ teaspoon sweetner
  1. Heat wok to smoking point and swirl in oil
  2. Empty Bowl C into the wok and stir fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant
  3. Push the onion mixture to the sides of the wok and empty Bowl A into the the middle. Spread it evenly into one ;ayer and allow to sear without stiring for 1 minute.
  4. Sprinkle on Bowl D and stir fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  5. Empty Bowl E into the wok and str fry for about a minute.
  6. Swirl in the contents of Bowl B and cook 30 seconds to a minute, until everything is cooked through.

I hope you enjoy my contribution and be sure to check out all the other versions on Wok Wednesdays!

The Wok love is in the air!

In Praise of Leftovers penned an ode to their wok, hopefully by now the romance has blossomed!

(h/t) Grace Young and the crew at Wok Wednesday

Quickie Royal stir fry

Quickie Royal stir frySometimes it's fun to dig up genuine ethnic recipes and play with all the seasonings in the cabinet. Other times you just need to get some food on the table. Today was one of the latter.

This particular dish was inspired by a recipe in Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day. I'm not really sure what makes it royal and as written it's not really a stir fry. So I pretty much grabbed the ingredients and did my own thing. There's very little prep, basically just cutting up the onion.

Quickie Royal stir fry
Recipe type: Stir Fry
A quick stir fry with very little prep time
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium red onion, shredded to green bean size pieces
  • 8 oz bag cole slaw mix
  • 16 oz bag frozen green beans, thawed
  • 10 oz box frozen broccoli spears, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons Golden Mountain sauce
  1. Heat a wok to smoking, add the oil and swirl around until hot.
  2. Add the onion and stir fry until fragrant.
  3. Add the cole slaw mix and stir fry for one minute.
  4. Add the green beans and stir fry for one minute.
  5. Push the ingredients in the wok to the sides and add the broccoli. Stir fry until warmed though.
  6. Add the Golden Moutain sauce and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils.
You can find Golden Mountain sauce in Oriental grocery stores or online. If you don't have any, use light soy sauce instead.

There you go, cutting board to table in about 10 minutes. You could add your choice of protein and serve it over rice if you like. I added pan-fried tofu to mine.