At Candle Cafe, and more recently at Blossom in New York, I’ve had these marvelous seitan cutlets which are thin and tender and come in some sort of great tasting sauce. I really want to know how to make this type of dish, but my seitan in the past has come out tasting more asian, and not nearly as tender. So I decided to take a seitan class with Myra Kornfeld at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York. Unfortunately, we didn’t make anything quite like I was hoping for, but this was the recipe that was most similar to what I’ve had at restaurants. You have to use homemade seitan for this recipe, because you need large cutlets not small chunks.
- 1 pound seitan sliced into 1/4-inch cutlets
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup shoyu
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sake, mirin, or sherry
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
- 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. coconut oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 bunches watercress, washed and thick stems removed
- 1 Tbs. sesame seeds
- a few drops of sesame oil
- 1/2 lemon
- Pepper the seitan cutlets. Pour the orange juice into a medium skillet. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and and simmer rapidly, uncovered, to let the liquid evaporate. You don’t need to stir. Reduce until you have 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the orange juice to a small bowl along with the shoyu, water, and sake. Add the scallions to the bowl.
- Place the flour on a plate. Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet on high. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil. Immediately press each cutlet into the flour, making sure both sides are completely dusted, and quickly add the seitan to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, and saute 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until both sides are lightly golden. Divide the seitan onto four warmed plates. Add the remaining tsp. of oil plus the garlic cloves to the pan saute about thirty seconds until lightly browned. Add the orange juice marinate to the pan (be careful, it will steam quite a bit) and let cook and thicken about one minute. Pour over the seitan.
- Add the watercress to the pan, and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil over the watercress and mound the watercress on the side of the seitan. Squeeze some lemon over each cutlet and serve.
I liked this dish when we had it at the class, but I didn’t love it. The sauce certainly wasn’t as good as the ones at candle cafe and Blossom. I decided to take my extra seitan and make it for Derek and his mom. I didn’t have coconut oil, so I just used olive. I’m guessing she uses coconut because she wants to heat it extremely hot, and doesn’t want to denature the oil. So I didn’t get my oil as hot, and I only used 4 tsp. rather than the 6 tsp. called for, and for less seitan (I only had about 2/3 of the amount in the recipe). My seitan didn’t get as browned, but I’m not sure that made a big difference to the taste. My sauce, however, tasted a bit different than the one at the class–I think it’s that we used sherry and they used mirin. I preferred the lighter mirin flavor I think. We used reduced sodium soy sauce, but I still found the sauce a bit over-salted. The idea of serving the cutlet over watercress was quite nice, but we thought the recipe could use about twice as much watercress, or maybe watercress + another green if 4 bunches of watercress is too expensive. I tried to present this dish as Myra did, laying the cutlet over a mound of watercress, and drizzling it with the sauce, but it came out looking pretty terrible. Presentaiton is clearly something I’ll have to work on if I make it again. Derek really enjoyed this dish–he had thirds.
I’m a bit mystified why the recipe calls for you to reduce the orange juice, then add water. I’m going to email Myra and ask her. It seems like you could just use orange juice concentrate, but maybe the cooking stage makes it taste more carmelized?
The other seitan dishes we made in my class were
- seitan-portobello mushroom sloppy joes, which I didn’t care for–the seasoning seemed off
- avocado cucumber jicama salsa was sweet, crunchy, and tasty
- seitan fajitas–this was a pretty standard dish of grilled peppers and onions, with the seitan added, and a little oregano and garlic for flavor. It was served with a creamy avocado sauce on tortillas. It was very tasty, but I’m not sure how much the seitan added. It would have been tasty with just the sauce and veggies.
- moussaka–this recipe has about 10 million steps, and I was pretty skeptical, because I’m not an eggplant fan, or a mashed potato fan. But I loved the dish! I even liked the eggplant layer! The top of the moussaka was covered with a vegan bechamel sauce, which I tasted and thought it tasted pretty awful–nothing like a bechamel sauce, too much soy and sweet taste. However, I didn’t notice the weird flavor in the final dish at all, it just tasted creamy and rich and savory and delicious.
If I make any of these dishes in the future I’ll type up the recipes.
If you can find early watercress, and still have access to late winter oranges, this makes a nice recipe for late Spring.