When I asked my friend Patty, a native of Buenos Aires, to tell me about her favorite foods growing up, I expected to hear about all kinds of exotic South American fare. Instead, she told me her favorite meal was pasta with marinara sauce. She explained that Italian food is popular there because of the Italian immigrants who settled in Argentina in the late 1800s. Argentine cuisine varies further due to the influences of other European settlers, such as the Spanish and British, along with the native Indians.
Patty also told me about a popular spicy lemon-marinated beef dish, for which I mentally substituted “seitan” for the beef and quickly set about to making my adaptation a reality. The tangy lemon flavor permeates the seitan which is then dredged in seasoned breadcrumbs and pan-fried or broiled until crisp and brown. It turned out so well that I included the recipe in Vegan Fire and Spice.
When I made it recently, I served it with sides of sautéed red chard and potatoes sautéed with red onion, red pepper flakes, oregano, and lemon juice, which complemented the seitan nicely.
In the book, the seitan for this recipe is broiled (with sautéing or grilling optional). Here’s the recipe the way I made it the other night, pan-fried:
Argentinean-Inspired Seitan Cutlets
This recipe is adapted from Vegan Fire and Spice.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 plus 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces seitan, cut into 1/4-inch cutlets
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Lemon wedges, for garnish
1. For the marinade, combine the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Arrange the seitan cutlets in a baking dish without overlapping and pour the marinade over them. Marinate for 1/2 hour at room temperature, or several hours in the refrigerator, turning once or twice to spread the seasoning mixture evenly.
2. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the oregano. Remove the seitan from the marinade and dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the cutlets with your hands.
3. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cutlets, in batches if necessary, and cook until crisp and golden brown on both sides, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.
1. it’s easy to put on to cook and walk away until serving time
2. the amazing fragrance fills the house all day
3. it makes a great “comfort-food” dinner, and
4. there are always enough leftovers for other terrific meals later in the week
Which brings me to the point: this week I used my “leftover” seitan to make a scrumptious sauté of seitan and mushrooms with a port wine sauce. The luscious sauce is absorbed by both the seitan and the mushrooms for an out-of-this-world flavor. I served it over brown rice and accompanied it with roasted broccoflower. So good. Here’s the recipe.
Pan-Seared Seitan with Mushrooms and Port
I adapted this from the recipe in Vegan Planet that uses cremini mushrooms, shallots, and red wine.
1 pound seitan, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, finely minced
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup port wine
3/4 to 1 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Brown the seitan in the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove the seitan from skillet and set aside on a plate.
2. In the same skillet, add the scallions and cook for 2 minutes to soften. Add the mushrooms and wine. Simmer, stirring, to cook off the alcohol and reduce the liquid slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the skillet and set aside with the seitan.
3. Add the stock to the skillet, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. For a thicker sauce, stir in a cornstarch slurry (about 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water).
4. Transfer the seitan and the mushrooms back to the skillet, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer over medium heat until hot. For a more pronounced port flavor, add an extra splash of port while heating the seitan.