When my hubby tasted these succulent seitan satay for the first time he closed his eyes and muttered ”you captured it, you captured the taste and texture I remember”. Serve it with my delicious easy-peasy peanut sauce (that also doubles as the marinade) and you have an appetizer your guests will rave about.
My mother grew up on a chicken farm in Denmark. When she was in her 50s she became vegan and gave up many of the foods she loved like cheese and her all time favorite take-out: Chicken Satay (which we called chicken-on-a-stick).
If magic was present, it moved under the skin of the world, beneath the ability of human eyes to catch sight of it.”
This is how I imagine those midsummer nights when, in her childhood, she would catch moths with her Uncle Robert:
At day’s end they sat on the porch and drank storm coffee – dark and thick like a thunder cloud. He drank with impatient swallows willing the twilight to the rhythm of his sips.
Finding the cup tastier then the coffee her tongue ran over the smooth porcelain pausing at the chipped rim. This was no doll’s tea party. This was adventure. Sitting next to her Uncle on the porch, on the farm, in the flatlands, the fields rolled before her, a quilt of greens and yellows.
She watched as butterflies feasted greedily on the Elderberries lacy blooms. Butterflies were the fairies of the of the day – this she knew. She also knew that she was no butterfly nor ever would she be. She was wrong about that.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
The last of the purple left the horizon and night wrapped around each rock, tree and blade of grass. Uncle Robert unfolded and stretched his long legs. He bent to light her lantern and then his own in turn. As they walked from the cream white farmhouse along the brown dirt road, Little Rie switched the lantern to her right hand and reached for her Uncle’s large rough hand.
The world was vast and inky black and they two held the beacon lights to call the moths.
The crickets began their midnight mass with the toads chiming in bass. It seemed to her the newly risen stars lent their icy hum and the grasses their swish. Branches thumped, the wind shivered and their footsteps thudded on the dusty road. Her cotton dress sussed and she was filled like a balloon with the wild sonatina. She felt she would float away and that thought spiked a tiny shiver of fear through her- so caught up in the night concert that she could see herself floating, feet skimming the tips of the wheat, bobbing over the trees, arms out-stretched to catch the sliver moon.
Her Uncle looked down at her, squeezed her hand and her feet settled to the path with a gentle thud.
Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living; this was the first morning of summer.
Uncle Robert spread a worn white sheet by the side of the road. On it they sat gazing at the glow between the lanterns where a halo of creamed copper faded towards the black.
Flurries of grey moths floated like ashes through the lamp light, threadbare wings raggedly pumping. If only she had brought her sewing kit and watercolors, surely she could patch them.
They caught moths with their nets and placed the especially fine specimens into mason jars to gaze at in the morning light.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
At night’s end Robert poured the tea from their half empty thermos into the dirt and rose. The lawn, sodden with dew, wet the hem of her dress.
They sat in silence and ate bowls of steaming oatmeal that sparkled with tiny strawberries from the lower garden as the birds gossiped outside the kitchen window.
Robert came to sit by her bed, kissed her forehead and removed a twig from her hair.
Her lumpy pillow smelled of lavender and cobwebs. The eiderdown descended softly over her like sleep.
It was the face of spring, it was the face of summer, it was the warmness of clover breath. Pomegranate glowed in her lips, and the noon sky in her eyes.
These succulent savory spears (say that 3 times fast) are rich with umami flavors. Serve them on a hot summer night with a cooling shredded salad and soothing brown or black rice and you will have a meal that is perfectly balanced in flavors and textures. You will need wooden skewers for this recipe. I used the brine from my Rainbow Pickles to make the shredded salad you see in the photos.
- 1 cup crunchy peanutbutter
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup minced lemongrass use only the tender inside of the stalk.
- 2 squirts Sriracha, to taste really, you know your own palate. Right?
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp coriander ground
- 4 tbsp soy sauce (dark if you have)
- 1 tbsp miso paste I used yellow but any will be yummy
- 2-3 leaves Kaffir lime tough center vein removed
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup well stirred coconut milk from a can
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup lime juice I used 3 limes
- 1/3 cup orange juice fresh or other is fine
- 1 inch knob of galangal or ginger
- 1/3 cup minced shallots (use onion if you don't have shallots)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a blender place chipotles, nut butter, soy sauce, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, and broth. Blend until smooth.
In a large bowl place the vital wheat gluten, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Stir to combine.
Pour in the liquid from the blender to the dry ingredients and stir until a loose dough forms. It will seem terribly mushy, fear not.
Roll up your sleeves and knead the dough with your hands for 3-4minutes to activate the gluten.
Form the dough into a ball and press and shape the dough into a rectangle about 8"x"6 and 1 1/2 inches tall.
Lightly grease a baking pan and place the rolled out seitan rectangle in it. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes and remove from oven.
Place all of the peanut sauce ingredients, except for the shallots, into your blender.
Blend until you have a smooth paste. Taste your peanut sauce and make sure it has the right balance for you of salty and sweet. Adjust to your palate but keep in mind the garlic and galangal (or ginger) will keep growing in strength. Now stir in the shallots.
Slice your seitan into thinnish strips. See the photo in the body of the post for reference. Thread the strips onto the wooden skewers.
In a shallow bowl, I used a pie pan, place half the peanut sauce and coat the seitan strips with marinade. Honestly I slathered it on with my hands like I do when you apply sunscreen. Time out. You really need to make sunscreen part of your daily routine. Really!
Marinate your satay for 45 minutes or you can place the skewered seitan in the fridge covered till tomorrow if you'd like. If I still had a grill pan I would use that, but alas I no longer have one...The broiler works just great though.
Turn on your broiler (oven grill) to high. Lightly grease a sheet pan. Place your stay skewers on the pan and if you are broiling (grilling) place a piece of aluminum foil over the exposed ends of the wooden skewers to keep them from charring.
Place your pan in the oven broil (grill) about 6 minutes. Keep checking and when you have a lovely deep golden color and a tiny bit of char about the edges then remove form the oven.