Our most recent Gloucestershire Vegan Group event was a vegan cooking skill-share, on the topic of cooking with tofu, tempeh & seitan.
We prepared a dish for each of the featured ingredients, following favourite recipes and chatted about the best ways to prepare these foods.
The recipes we followed were from two cookbooks; Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero. These are excellent cookbooks, Veganomicon has hundreds of tasty vegan recipes encompassing worldwide cuisines. Viva Vegan focuses on Mexican vegan recipes, and is great for those who love chilli and garlic in equal measure.
Tofu comes in many forms, to name a few: silken tofu (used mainly in desserts or Japanese dishes), firm tofu (used in stir-frys, baked or scrambled) and yuba tofu (the rich skin of soya milk, bought as dried sheets and used in stews or Japanese dishes). A our skill share we were cooking with a plain firm tofu, which you can buy in blocks in health food shops and supermarkets. My favourite shop-bought kind made by Taifun, which is extra firm and chewy. But other makes such as Dragonfly and Cauldren work well in this recipe. Firm tofu cooks best after being sliced and patted dry with a sheet of kitchen towel or clean tea-towel. This absorbs some of the moisture and allows the outside to crisp up well.
The tofu recipe we followed was Chimichurri Baked Tofu from the excellent Latin-inspired cookbook Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, this oven-baked tofu is coated in a rich, smoky, herby sauce and is intensely flavourful, with a wonderful chewy texture.
Chimichurri Baked tofu
Serves 4, two slices each of tofu
Time: About 55 minutes
* 1 pound extra-firm tofu
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 Tb soy sauce
* Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika (See Below)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the tofu into eight 1/2 inch thick slices and dab the slices dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. In a shallow glass 9×12 inch baking dish, combine the olive oil and soy sauce. Lay a tofu slice in the baking dish, pressing it into the sauce mixture. Repeat with the remaining slices and bake for 30 minutes, flipping once, until the slices are beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven but don’t turn the oven off.
2. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, spread about a third of the chimichurri sauce evenly and completely over the tops of the tofu. Flip the slices and spread another third or slightly more on top of the tofu. If desired, use a fork to poke holes through the tofu, pressing a little bit of sauce into the center of the pieces. Bake for another 25 minutes, until the tofu is firm and the edges are golden brown. Bake longer if an even chewier texture is desired. Serve the tofu hot with remaining chimichurri sauce.
Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika
Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce
Time : Less than 10 minutes
* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 large shallots, chopped
* 1 large bunch flat leaf ( Italian ) parsley, thick stems removed
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 3 Tb red wine vinegar
* 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
* 1/2 tsp sea salt
1. Place the garlic, shallots and parsley into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and sea salt, and pulse until creamy. Taste the sauce and adjust with more salt or red wine vinegar, if desired. Store in a tightly covered container and keep chilled until ready to use.
Tempeh is traditionally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds cooked soya beans into patty, much like a veggie burger. Tempeh is looks ugly but taste great if prepared well. It often has black patches from naturally occuring harmless moulds that are part of the culturing process. You can buy it frozen or refrigerated in health food shops, such as Sunshine Foods in Stroud or The Natural Grocery Store in Cheltenham. It’s also sold in jars. The brand most commonly available in the UK seems to be Impulse Foods Tempeh.
Most recipes advise steaming tempeh or boiling for ten minutes in salted water, to help release the bitterness. This process seems to be the key to cooking with Tempeh and keeping it tasty. Tempeh has a fantastic succulent texture, and readily absorbs marinades and sauces, which make it great to cook with.
The tempeh recipe we used was Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh from that vegan-bible of a cookbook Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
Hot-sauce glazed tempeh
8 ounce package of tempeh
1/2 cup wine (whatever kind you’ve got on hand, just nothing sweet)
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bring a pot of water to boil.
Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices.
Cut the tempeh to form 8 triangles. When the water is boiling, add the tempeh, lower the heat and steam for 10 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the tempeh and then immediately place them in the marinade bowl for 1 hour, flipping them every now again to cover with the marinade.
Preheat a greased grill pan over medium high heat. Brush lightly with olive oil
Grill each side for 5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let cook for 30 more seconds.:
A ball of steamed seitan waiting to be marinaded.
Seitan or wheat-meat is the insoluble protien in wheat, used historically in the cuisines of China, Japan and other East and Southeast Asian countries. The Natural Grocery Store in Cheltenham sells ready-made seitan. You can buy Gluten Powder online here amongst other places. It’s easy to make and flavour with whatever spices and herbs take your fancy. You can shape it into sausages, or make balls for slicing into sandwiches.
Seitan has a satisfying chewy texture, and works well in pasties, sandwiches, stews, stir-frys and mexican cooking.
We followed the Steamed White Seitan Recipe from Terry Hope Romero’s ‘Viva Vegan’ Cookbook, then marinaded and roasted it.
Steamed white seitan
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken flavoured broth)
4 garlic cloves (grated)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1. In a jug whisk together broth, garlic, olive oil. In a large bowl combine wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, thyme, paprika, cumin, and salt. Form a well in centre of dry ingredients and stir well with rubber spatula until dough leaves side of the bowl.
2. Knead for 2-3 mins to develop gluten.
3. Leave dough to rest for 10 min, knead again for 30 seconds.
4. Place dough on cutting board and cut into 4 equal pieces.
5. Tear off 4 X12 inch pieces of foil and place piece of dough in centre of foil, fold the short sides of the foil over the loaf, the fold over the ends the foil should be secure but loose allowing for it to expand. Place in steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes Allow the dough to cool to the touch before chilling in fridge or overnight.
6. Store seitan in the fridge tightly sealed in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks or freeze, defrost before use.
For the marinade:
1 cup light-colored beer, preferably Mexican
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons chipotle adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2. In a large bowl, whisk together beer, garlic, chipotles, adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Add seitan strips, and marinate for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Roast in the oven until golden and crispy on the edges, adding the marinade when the seitan is browned and roasting for a further 10 mins.