Thursday, September 29, 2005

imbb #19: i can't believe i ate vegan: seitan shawarma


this posting is in honor of imbb#19 "i can't believe i ate vegan". actually i can believe i ate vegan, being as that is what i eat most of the time. that is when i'm not sneaking slices of pizza or surreptitiously digging my spoon into some poor friend's rapidly diminishing carton of ice cream after a few too many glasses of wine. red wine. always red wine.

i love the idea of this imbb since people seem to have this image of vegans as being pale, anemic, birkenstock shod, armpit hair sporting, mustachiod (only the women), militant, self-righetous, upton sinclair wielding nutcases dancing to their own inner grateful dead soundtrack. or weird purity complex types, but those cases usually go right over the edge and go straight to the raw side. but hey, food is food and can be good, mediocre, bad, even projectile vomit inducing. vegan as well as the other kind. and even though i'm a weak-willed, good-intentioned, non-freaky (really!) mostly vegan i like food. i like food that tastes good. i like food that doesn't have a face and a mother somewhere in meat aisle at safeway. i prefer food that doesn't involve states of perpetual lactation (ouch!) with a trip to same aforementioned safeway aisle once they are are a bit long in the tooth and dried in the teat. being no spring chicken myself i have great sympathy for this inevitable entropy. so sad on so many different levels. especially since i know that things with faces taste good. very good. and who doesn't really, subconsciously, want to return to dairy teat? particulary when it is extruding chocolate ice cream?

and so, back to the subject of this posting, i bring you seitan shawarma...basically a middle eastern burrito. more in the mood for burger and fries? click here.

this shawarma is packed full of good stuff. hot chili sauce, thin slices of marinated seitan, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onions and a healthy, oozing dose of a garlicky tahini sauce, wrapped tightly in lavash bread and grilled until crisp and toasty. you can substitute pita bread if you prefer but i think the crispy lavash really makes this dish special. or if seitan isn't your thing, feel free to stick felafel balls in there instead. heck, i'll bet it would probably be good with grilled marinated strips of bessie's left hindquarter, if one were so inclined. but whatever else you do, don't omit the red chili sauce or skimp on the tahini dressing.

you can make your own seitan easily and cheaply if you have a bread machine and a slow cooker, or you can use storebought. tahini and lavash bread can be bought in most stores that stock middle eastern foods. for the red chili paste i use the ubiquitous sriracha, found in friendly chain grocery stores everywhere.


the fixins' from left: tahini-garlic sauce, chili paste, chopped salad, pickled red onions


just look at how juicy and succulent!

seitan shawarma
1 lb. sliced seitan
lavash bread (or pita bread)
tomato, chopped
cucumber, peeled and diced
sliced onions, raw or pickled
parsley, minced
hot sauce, sriracha or any red chili paste

seitan marinade
1/2 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch each/ cardamon and allspice
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper

tahini sauce
tahini
1 clove garlic
water
lemon juice
salt to taste

1. prepare seitan marinade ingredients. thinly slice seitan and marinade for about an hour.
2. chop cucumbers and tomatoes, mince parsley and toss together. set aside.
3. place all ingredients for tahini sauce in a food processor or blender. the ratio of water to tahini should be about 1 to 1. blend all ingredients until smooth, adding lemon juice and salt to taste. if the sauce does not pour freely add more water. it should be quite runny.
4. lightly oil a hot non stick frying pan and add seitan. allow to brown slightly. remove from heat.
5. cut lavash into thirds (one third for each shawarma). in a hot skillet slightly warm one slab of lavash for just a few seconds to soften it up.
6. to assemble. lay lavash on a flat surface and layer ingredients like you would for a burrito. depending on the width of your bread it may help to center the filling 1/3 of the way from one edge. spread a thin layer of hot sauce, then layer seitan, tomato and cucumber mix, onion and drizzle tahini sauce. roll up like a burrito (don't forget to tuck one end in so the contents don't fall out when you pick it up!) and place in a hot skillet seam side down for a minute or so, rolling it around until all sides are lightly browned. this helps the seam hold together and lends a delicious crunch to your bread.

20 Comments:

Blogger Nic said...

I love this dish, Rae. I am definately going to try it - I've been wanting to make seitan for ages. Great entry!

11:36 AM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

"upton sinclair wielding"
(snirk!)
rae, I learn so much from your blog... wish I had the energy to try all those things. You make pretty food.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Sarah (the headhunter) said...

That does look wonderful. I may have to expand my vegan/vegetarian recipes.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous kathyF said...

Thanks for setting the record straight! I'm always amazed by how many people think vegans are uptight and anemic.

Like the "swegan" terminology, too! I call myself a "don't ask don't tell" vegan. If you hand me a cookie, I don't ask.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Clare Eats said...

Hi Rae
That looks delicious!YUM!!!

I don't have that opinion about vegans at all :)

6:17 PM  
Blogger yoony said...

thanks for visiting my post rae! your shawarma looks so delicious. i rarely make middle eastern food at home, cept for the occasional tabbouleh or couscous. but this i gotta try. :)

7:35 PM  
Blogger boo_licious said...

Your shawarma looks so amazing that I was itching to try some.

1:52 AM  
Blogger rae said...

nic: thanks for stopping by, i love your blog btw. and seitan really rocks - it's so versatile (breaded fried cutlets being my favorite dish). plus if you make it yourself it is so much cheaper.

cookiecrumb: i have energy? funny you say that 'cause during this whole eating local thing you did, all i could think of was that i could never have the energy or attention span to do that. the only local eating gig i could pull off might be local takeout.

sarah: the great thing about this middle eastern burrito thing is that you can stuff whatever you want into it. in fact, the other day, being out of bread, i stuffed a tofu dog in lavash with the the hotdog fixins, rolled that sucker up like a pig in a blanket, browned and gobbled. it was pretty good!

kathyf: "don't ask, don't tell". i can totally relate. i lived in mexico for a while and everytime i asked i ended up hungry...

clareeats: you must be much kinder than me. those opinions, i fear, were formerly mine during my haylcon days of savoring the divine swine. especially when his name was bacon. in fact, bacon was my last meat to go...for quite a while i reclassified it as a fruit. "fruit of the gods"...

yoony: i really loved your entry. it's so rare to find veg@#@ korean food!

boolicious: yeah, it was pretty damn tasty.

9:22 PM  
Blogger obachan said...

Boy this looks beautiful and healthy! I didn't know what seitan was, but now I do. Also now I understand words like tahini and falafel. And I'm going to make home-made pita bread tomorrow! Yay! See? I'm making a progress ;)

6:49 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Rae - I knew I could rely on you to come up with smething spectacular for this edition of IMBB. This looks superb.
Tell me - do you pickle your onions yourself?
Do you have a favourite recipe for them to share if so. I'd really like to try my hand at making them one of these days.

thanks for taking part in IMBB19
I am looking forward to reading you other entry later.

Sam

1:04 PM  
Blogger rae said...

obachan: good luck with the pita bread obachan. i've never had any luck to get my pockets all puffy.

sam: thanks for hosting this imbb...it was fun and i've collected quite a few recipes to try out later. and i do pickle those onions but there isn't a recipe at all - just a mixture of white wine and rice wine vinegar, plus salt. i use red onions so i get that beautiful pink color.

9:30 AM  
Blogger T said...

While Ive never had seitan (Im a bit wary to tell you the truth), I love your marinade with its 2 types of paprika and all those spices- Ill be using that in some capacity for sure.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well hmmm...being a bit "freaky" myself, i'll try not to take offense. the recipes look really good.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Harmonia said...

Thanks for the Seitan ideas...I bought some and am looking for some stuff to do with it.

6:42 AM  
Blogger rae said...

tanvi: i imagine the marinade would go really well with red meat, to be honest...

anonymous: nothing wrong with us freaks,we make the world go round...

harmonia: my favorite way to eat seitan is as cutlets. you can check out the recipe here. also really tasty as the pastrami part of a reuben sandwich, skipping the cheese and subbing a tofu-based thousand island dressing...

8:53 AM  
Blogger Isil S. said...

This looks fantastic ! Thanks for sharing.

5:07 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I've been meaning to make this for a long time. I finally tried it and it was delicious and easy to make. Thanks for the recipe! http://sdcat.blogspot.com/2008/10/veganmofo-day-1.html

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