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Seitan for Satays and an Easy Peanut Sauce

I had one of those “aha” moments the other day while contemplating making seitan satays for dinner. Instead of marinating the seitan to infuse it with satay flavors, this time I decided to put the satay flavors directly into the seitan mixture.
To do this, I made a small batch of shortcut seitan —the kind everyone is making these days using gluten flour instead of the traditional (and time-consuming) method made with whole-wheat flour that involves lots of washing and rinsing and kneading. To the basic ratio that is nearly equal parts dry ingredients to wet ingredients (but just a smidge less wet ingredients), I included peanut butter, soy sauce, and garlic powder right in the seitan mixture to give it a rich satay flavor without marinating. I then stretched the seitan into a rectangle and baked it for about 20 minutes. After cooling, I was able to cut it into thin slices and thread it onto skewers. The satays were then arranged on a baking sheet, dabbed with a little spicy peanut sauce and drizzled with a little oil. I then broiled them for a couple minutes, but you could grill them if you prefer.

I served them with my favorite quick-and-easy peanut sauce (the recipe is below), and the satays were everything I’d hope for. I made extra peanut sauce to use later in the week, probably tossed with some noodles and veggies.

Announcement: The Humane Society International (HSI) recently added a section to their website to promote veg food choices, and I’m pleased to announce that they decided to use recipes from my book Vegan Fire & Spice for their launch. Here’s the link for the recipes — many of them have photos, too.

Reminder: The deadline for the Creative Couscous Cake Contest is coming up fast. Don’t miss your chance to win and be immortalized on these pages! It’s simple — just grab a box of couscous and think of your favorite dessert flavors…you may be surprised what you come up with!

Easy Peanut Sauce for Satays and More
Start with this basic recipe and then taste to customize it to your liking: add more water for a thinner sauce, a bit more vinegar or tamari for a more salty/pungent flavor, a pinch more sugar if you like it sweeter, and so on.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian garlic-chile sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup water

In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, vinegar, tamari, chile sauce, ginger, and sugar, stirring to blend well. Slowly add the water, stirring, to make a thick sauce. Set aside.
Makes about 1 1/4 cup

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Thai One On

It’s no secret to people who know me that Thai food is my favorite. I cook Thai at home, but I enjoy eating in Thai restaurants even more. When we moved to the country last spring, we left my favorite restaurants behind. The nearest Thai restaurant is nearly an hour away, so at least we’re saving money.

When we need to venture out to a metropolitan center like downtown Harrisonburg, VA for say, office supplies, we always work it around a Thai lunch. On Tuesday, we took the car to a dealership there for service. While my husband fumed over the $350 charge to put in a sensor the size of a cashew (just after the warranty ran out), I took solace in knowing that a great Thai lunch was waiting for us at the Taste of Thai restaurant. And what a lunch it was.

I never met a peanut sauce I didn’t like, but the Praram Curry with Fried Tofu was transporting. Beyond wonderful. Since the rich, multi-dimensional flavor is still tattooed on my brain, my new obsession is to duplicate it. In my lifelong search for the perfect peanut sauce, I’ve developed no fewer than a dozen variations over the years, and examples can be found in Vegan Planet, Vegan Fire and Spice, and many of my other books. However, my quest ended when I tasted this sauce. It was creamy, silky, and peanutty, sure, but it also wafted subtle echos of curry and all the flavor dimensions that word represents. Has anyone else found their perfect peanut sauce? If you have, I’d love to hear from you.