Vegan Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY

I needed a quick dinner and had just the right ingredients on hand for a “Beef” and Broccoli Stir Fry. Of course mine will be vegan and I will use Seitan instead of beef and I will make a few other adjustments so my finished dish will be very tasty and free of sugar.

Seitan is something I use on occasion, though not weekly. It is easy to make and I promise to show you how to do it sometime. But tonight I am just home from work as many of you are too on a weekday and I am using store-bought seitan. (say tan—not satan!) Seitan is essentially  a wheat product in which the starch and the bran has been washed away leaving just the gluten, which is the protein part of the wheat. So you see it is a somewhat refined product and not a whole food. This is why I use it only once in a while.

“G L U T E N !!!!!” you say? “But isn’t gluten bad for you? Some people are even allergic to it, arent’ they?”

Yes, I’m sure some people really cannot tolerate gluten but that isn’t the fault of innocent wheat. Whole grains, including wheat, do have protein in them and we vegans eat whole grains and grain products as part of our protein intake. But some people may not be able to assimilate seitan if their system is not in a condition to do so.

Gluten-free folks, please don’t get upset! You can substitute tempeh or tofu and it will be delicious especially if you do the marinating part.

I’m mid-reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and I had a cognition about gluten based on Campbell’s expose of the shenanigans that have been going on for decades between the government, the medical establishment, the media and food industry giants to make us believe certain falsehoods about animal-based versus plant-based foods.

I thought about how gluten intolerance has become a modern dietary dilema relatively recently and I strongly suspect that those promoting the evils of gluten have a vested interest in keeping the meat and dairy industries at peak profit. Coupled with the degradation of our food supply and the increasing difficulty in getting regular, organic, whole, unprocessed, un-sugared food (at least in the Western world) it is no mystery to me why many are so worried about gluten!

Is it possible that if people are convinced by all the no-carb, high animal protein dietary programs around that they shouldn’t eat carbs, and if people don’t differentiate between simple and complex carbs and mostly only eat the simple, refined ones anyway, that they could reach a point where they can no longer tolerate gluten?

But I digress, sorry. Here’s my version of fabulous

Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry!  (Serves 3)

Measurements are approximate and mostly according to your tastes. I myself don’t measure any of it.

  • 8 ounces of pre-cooked seitan, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 cups of broccoli florets and stems
  • 6 baby bella mushrooms, cut into chunky wedges
  • roasted sesame oil or olive oil
  • 2-3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon kuzu

Marinate the cubes of seitan in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and chili pepper flakes. This will be a strong mixture and you need it strong in order to get enough flavor into the seitan.  Let the seitan marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients—or at least a half hour.

Wash and cut the broccoli florets. Try to make them about the same size so they will cook in the same length of time. Trim the outer layer of the broccoli stem and discard. (These tend to be too tough!) Then slice the stem in diagonal 1/4 inch thick slices. Broccoli stems, by the way, can be very sweet and delicious!

Dissolve the kuzu in water and set it aside until you are ready to make your thickened sauce.

Begin the stir fry by heating up your oil in a wok or low, wide pan—medium high flame. Saute the broccoli stem pieces for a minute or so and then add the florets and a pinch of sea salt. Next add the mushrooms, another pinch of sea salt and the ginger and stir fry until the veggies are cooked but still a bit crisp.

Add the seitan and the garlic. As the seitan is already cooked, it just has to heat up. If you like a milder garlic taste, add the garlic in the beginning so it cooks more.

When everything is done, add the marinade and the kuzu dissolved in water. Keep stirring as the liquid thickens and will take on a glossy appearance. If there isn’t enough sauce, just add more of the liquid ingredients and use more kuzu dissolved in water. This will depend somewhat on whether you’re serving the stir fry over noodles or rice or just eating it by itself.

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Cooking With Lotus Root

A frog sits upon its leaves to quietly observe the world around him. Koi play hide and seek beneath its flowers and stems. A proud gardener rejoices to see its big white or deep pink flowers in the pond. But me, I simply enjoy the beauty and variety that the lotus plant brings to my dinner table.

The lotus plant is mostly edible–leaves, blossoms, seeds and roots. Today I’m talking about the lotus root which is a wonderful addition to any vegetable dish, soup, stew or stir-fry. Lotus roots can be purchased in Asian groceries and in some natural food stores and they look like this:

Lotus rhizome (Nelumbo nucifera)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or, they can be purchased dried after which you can re-hydrate them and cook with them. (I mail order mine from Gold Mine Natural Foods and while I’m at it, I usually order dried lotus seeds as well.)

Fresh lotus root is crispy and refreshing with a delicate taste. It stays fairly crispy even when cooked and it’s best to infuse lotus root with sauces or flavors which will enhance it. Like other vegetables, if I find organic lotus root, I don’t peel it. I simply trim off the tough end where these underwater rhizomes grow attached to each other. Once you cut your lotus root, either cook with it immediately, or keep it in a slightly acidic bath so it doesn’t discolor–such as a little lemon in some water.

Truth be told, I thought of lotus root because I had the flu last week and wanted to ease some coughing. See how the vegetable has holes running end to end? They resemble lungs and traditional eastern medicine teaches that the lotus root is an excellent remedy for helping the lungs and quickly breaking down mucous. I made lotus root tea.

That is wonderful!

See how interesting lotus root is with its wheel or flower-like shape when you slice it? You can stuff those cavities with delicious things! You can float them delicately into an asian broth! You can deep-fry or tempura the slices, too!

Using dried lotus root, I made my tea and then I made a stir-fry dish with the rest.

Assemble all your stir fry ingredients before starting to cook.

Assemble all your stir fry ingredients before starting to cook.

LOTUS ROOT STIR FRY WITH  KUZU GLAZE (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup fresh sliced lotus root or re-hydrated dried lotus root
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and julienned fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup scallions, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon traditionally brewed soy sauce (I recommend Nama Shoyu)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon kuzu (dried root starch)
  • 1/4 cup spring water
  • sea salt
  • roasted black sesame seeds

Wash and slice all the veggies and keep them separate. Heat up a wok, heavy skillet or cast iron pan with sesame oil. Use medium high heat but don’t let the oil smoke. Add the veggies one at a time starting with the carrots and a pinch of sea salt and toss them around, stir-frying them quickly for about 2 minutes. Add the lotus root and another pinch of sea salt, and stir fry another 2 minutes. Add the celery and another pinch of sea salt and saute until they are bright green, and add the ginger and chili flakes and stir fry. The cooking time is quick depending on how thick or thin you have cut your vegetables. You want everything to retain some crispness. At the last minute, add the scallions and stir them in with a small amount of soy sauce.

Dissolve the kuzu in water until it looks like milky water with no more lumps. Pour the kuzu water into the stir fry and keep stirring. The kuzu will thicken and become clear instead of milky and will make a nice glaze for your vegetables. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the dish and serve.

We served the stir fry with creamy salomon and corn soup, and red kale with fried tempeh.

We served the stir fry with creamy salmon and corn soup, and red kale with fried tempeh.

Lotus root is guaranteed to add interest and an exotic touch to your menu. What can you imagine making with this unique and decorative food?