This is a recipe from Madhur Jaffery's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. I've had this book for several years, and am ashamed to say, I've never really used it. But, when Zoa from The Airy Way blog made this dish for VeganMofo, I was inspired to try it. You have to check out her beautiful rendition of the dish; she did it much more justice than I. And, while I'm at it, anyone who's interested in sushi simply has to check out this lady's talents in that department. She dedicated a whole weekend to sushi during Mofo: here's Post 1 and here's Post 2.
Back to the cookbook... this recipe is entitled 'Stew of Baked Wheat Gluten, Potato, Turnip, Carrot, and Cabbage Rolls', and it's billed as Japanese fare. It really is a simple, yet elegant and very tasty dish. I can't give out the recipe, obviously because it belongs to the book. But roughly, this is how it goes...
First, you make a delicious stock with bean sprouts, mushrooms, and other veggies:
Then you strain the stock and end up with a lovely broth, seasoned with Japanese Soy Sauce among other things:
Now you make some wheat gluten balls. I've been making seitan for years, but have never made these: they are surprising and fun. All you do is mix wheat gluten with water, form little balls and bake them for about 15 minutes. They puff up like little pastries:
After you take them out of the oven, they deflate and end up looking like this:
They make an interesting and tasty addition to the stew.
You put the stew together by cooking the rutabaga, potato, carrots, cabbage rolls, and wheat gluten in the broth. I added some shitake mushroom and scallions as well. The recipe indicates that it should be arranged very prettily in the pot for cooking, with the carrots and cabbage rolls grouped together and off to one side. But, honestly, that was too "fiddley" for me, so I just arranged it nicely in the bowl:
The cabbage rolls look neat and they really aren't difficult. You just steam some cabbage and use the leaves as wrappers for the spinach.