Thursday, May 05, 2011

Try This Delicious Seitan Fajita Stir Fry For Your Vegan Cinco De Mayo Dinner! Serve With These Simple Margaritas

Seitan, a form of "wheat meat" makes a good high protein substitute for flank steak in this Mexican stir fry

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Happy Cinco De Mayo!
My favorite holidays involve lots of food and no hassles of gift giving. What's more fun than a holiday involving wonderful Mexican food and margaritas! Here are some recipes for both.

What is Seitan?
Although it sounds like the devil, seitan (pronounced say-tahn) is actually a meat-like food that is derived from wheat protein or gluten. The traditional way of making it starts with making dough out of wheat flour and water. The dough is then kneaded and rinsed under water to remove the starch. Eventually it becomes a stretchy gluten that is then simmered in broth for an hour or more. You end up with a product that has the texture of meat and one that can take on many flavors. It's low in calories, has no saturated fat or cholesterol and is very high in protein. For vegans who crave the taste and texture of meat, this could do the trick. 
But it's not for everybody. People with celiac disease or wheat or gluten intolerance should obviously avoid this product. For those avoiding gluten, Butler Soy Curls are a much better alternative. They are made from minimally processed soy beans and are gluten free. 

Westsoy Seitan Strips
Believe it or not, I bought my first seitan product last week. I've had it in restaurants in dishes like "mock duck" but never prepared it at home. I found some seitan strips by Westsoy at Whole Foods last week and decided to give them a try. A 1/3 cup serving is only 120 calories, has 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol and has a whopping 21 grams of protein. It's also low in carbs with only 4 grams per serving. And although I usually avoid fake meats, this one was quite good and it was the perfect ingredient for my Cinco de Mayo stir fried fajitas!

Ingredients include filtered water, vital wheat gluten, soy sauce, garbanzo bean flour, defatted soy flour and garlic.

A Great Mexican Seasoning
I bid on and won a huge basket of Morton and Bassett spices during a recent fund raiser at the Sonoma Humane Society. Included in the basket was a Mexican Blend that is a mixture of cumin, garlic, paprika, white pepper, thyme and onion. It makes a wonderful seasoning for today's recipe.

Great in fajitas, salsas and other Mexican dishes

Vegan Seitan Fajita Stir Fry
[serves 4]
For the marinade
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Mexican Blend seasoning
For the Fajitas
8 ounce package Westsoy (or other) seitan strips
1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup room temp water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut in thin strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and cut in thin strips
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
kernels from 2 ears of corn
8 corn tortillas, warmed *
Vegan sour cream (optional)
Guacamole (optional) or Manila Mango Salsa (optional)
* Or serve over polenta or brown rice

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl.
If seitan is not evenly and thinly cut already, cut into thin strips with a knife or pair of scissors.
Place seitan strips in marinade and stir to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, drain the marinade and mix it with the water and corn starch. Set aside. 
Using a wok or large sauté pan, sauté the onion on medium heat for 3 minutes. 
Add bell peppers and cook another 3 minutes or until they begin to soften. 
Add jalapeno and cook for another minute.
Add marinated seitan, fresh cilantro and corn. Stir a few minutes until heated throughout.
Add marinade and water mixture and cook until thickened.
Serve immediately with warm tortillas, vegan sour cream, guacamole or salsa, if desired.

Per serving (stir fry only): 214.4 calories, 8.8 g fat, 1.0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15.8 g protein, 19.7 g carbohydrate and 3.1 g dietary fiber. 

Now for that Margarita!
I like Margaritas on the rocks. No salt on the rims, no sweet Margarita mixes and recipes using simple syrup which is just a supersaturated solution of sugar and water. I like them tart with just a few simple ingredients.

This is a bit more tart than one made from a mix!

Pick your Favorite Tequila
My husband used to travel to Guadalajara for business. Not far from there are the many distilleries that make Tequila, North America's first distilled drink. So needless to say, we've got a pretty good stock. There are so many different Tequilas that it can be quite confusing. Let me try to explain:
* Gold is the most adulterated Tequila. It's young and contains color and flavor additives.
* Blanco is the purest Tequila. It's clear, aged 2 months or less or bottled after distillation.
* Reposado is stored in wood barrels from 2 to 11 months.
* Anejo is aged at least 1 year.
* Extra Anejo is aged at least 3 years.
For a good margarita, I prefer Reposado. Anejo and extra Anejo is more for sipping. Gold is used by restaurants to make frozen margaritas. Blanco also makes a good margarita but is a little stronger than Reposado because it's not aged as long.

Our dwindling Tequila collection. It gets smaller every time the kids visit!

On the left is French Cointreau. On the right is Controy from Mexico.
Mexican Controy has more of a bite.

Margarita on the rocks (Ryan Fitzgerald's Recipe)
[makes 1 drink]
2 parts Tequila
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 part agave nectar

Shake with ice and serve in a chilled glass or over ice with a slice of lime.

Margarita on the rocks (From the makers of Cointreau)
[makes 1 drink]
2 parts Tequila
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
1 part Cointreau

Shake with ice and serve in a chilled glass or over ice with a slice of lime.

After testing both recipes, we mixed them together which I think tasted the best! So here's the combo recipe:

My Favorite Margarita Combo (combining the best of both)
[makes 2 drinks]
4 parts Tequila
2 parts freshly squeezed lime juice
1 part Cointreau
1/2 part agave nectar

Shake with ice and serve in a chilled glass or over ice with a slice of lime.

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