Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sauerkraut and Seitan "Spare Ribz": A Meal from My Childhood



Vegan MoFo 2015 Day 2: Recreate a meal from your childhood.

If you asked me about the primary culinary influence that shaped my childhood I would have to say 'Italian'. My father's side of the family is Italian and my paternal grandmother gave my mom all her traditional recipes when my folks got married. Most of my childhood food memories revolve around homemade pasta sauce, ravioli, braciole, lasagne, and the list goes on...

However, my mom's side of the family is Polish, and my great grandmother was from a region on the border between Germany and Poland. This dish is a reflection of my mom's heritage, and a meal that we ate often in the fall and winter. This dish evokes memories of cozy winter nights around the dinner table with my family.



Seitan works great with this, but so would tofu, grilled portabella mushrooms, tempeh, or chickpeas. Slices of apple and a sprinkle of caraway compliment the kraut beautifully. When it's baking in the oven, the aroma is a divine mingling of sweet and savory; it makes me hungry just thinking about it!

This is simple to assemble: put a generous layer of your favorite sauerkraut (I used homemade) in a baking dish, tuck in some apple slices, and sprinkle caraway seeds over the top.  Be sure to pour in plenty of the sauerkraut brine too. (You probably won't need to season with any salt because of the sauerkraut, but add black pepper if desired.)

If you use ready-made seitan you can add it now, and bake at 375°F for ~30 - 40 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, the sauerkraut should be gently simmering in its juice. If you're making the seitan from scratch, you'll want to bake, steam, or braise it separately and then add it to the sauerkraut a few minutes before it comes out of the oven.  

I made may own seitan this time around; the flavor profile is tailored to the dish. Here's what I did:

"Seitan Ribz" 

1 cup cooked white beans
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (or a little less of regular soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of onion powder
1-2 twigs fresh thyme, removed from stem
splash of white wine or apple cider (optional)
2/3 cup water
black pepper to taste
1 1/2  cups vital wheat gluten

Preheat the oven to 375°F (if you plan on baking or steam-baking). 

Put the vital wheat gluten in a mixing bowl. Put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth liquid. Taste the liquid for saltiness. You probably won't want/need to add any salt; the mixture should be quite savory, but not exceedingly salty. Add the wet ingredients to to the vital wheat gluten and mix/knead gently to get a elastic, non-sticky seitan dough. If the dough is too wet, add more vital wheat gluten as necessary.

Shape the dough into a round and cut into two equal parts. Roll each piece into an oblong shape to about 1/2" thickness. Score the "ribz". At this point, you can cook the seitan anyway you like. When I make thin cutlet-type seitan pieces like these ribz, I like to steam-bake it.


To steam-bake, place the seitan on a cooling rack (brush the seitan with a little olive oil at this point if you feel so inclined) and then place the rack in a cookie sheet. Add 2 cups of water to the cookie sheet and put the whole lot in a 375°F. The seitan will bake and steam at the same time. Check the water level every so often; you'll probably need to add another cup or two during the process. If the seitan is rolled out to 1/2" thickness, it should take about an hour to cook--turn the seitan over halfway through. When it comes out of the oven, the seitan should be soft and springy, but not doughy.

Seitan ribz in to steam-bake
This is a dish that sauerkraut lovers will enjoy. Served with potatoes and a leafy green salad, it excites the senses while being warming and comforting at the same time--perfect for autumn and winter evenings.

And finally, I wanted to end my MoFo posts with a mini round-up of posts from other MoFoers, but I can't find the blogroll. Some people are creating their own lists. I guess it's just taking them some time to compile it? I don't have a smartphone so can't do the # search on Instagram. Sigh...such is life.


23 comments:

  1. I'm TOTALLY craving potatoes at the moment! :)

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  2. Your seitan "spare ribs" look great! I don't recall eating spare ribs as a child (I wasn't much of a meat eater back then) but I should make this for my husband! Also, I just read on the PPK forum that they are still compiling the MoFo blogroll, just taking a little bit longer than expected :)
    Kyra | viedelavegan.com

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    1. Kyra,

      Thanks for stopping by with the MoFo info!

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  3. Rose, Yay - I've missed you x Welcome back. And what a time to make a return during Vegan Mofo. I am still a vegetarian, but love eating and creating vegan dishes at home. This one is bookmarked. I've found a place finally in the UK where you can get seitan and and so excited. PS Your blog posts and foodie inspiration has been missed, hope all is well x

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    1. Aw Shaheen, thanks for your lovely message. I've missed you all too, and likewise about the foodie inspiration!

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  4. Ooh yum! I have only tried to make seitan once a long time ago and it didn't go that well. I should try it again some time - yours looks great. And I loooove sauerkraut :D

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    1. You should have another go at the seitan...it took me a few tries to get the hang of it.

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  5. looks very tasty - I really love the idea of more sauerkraut in my meals but it isn't something I grew up with so I struggle to find ideas

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    1. I know what you mean about the sauerkraut. I don't usually cook with it, but just toss it into salads and sandwiches or onto the side of whatever I'm eating. I literally haven't eaten this dish since I as a kid.

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  6. I've never been big into sauerkraut, but these photos and your description of cosy winter meals make me want to try and change that. I like your steam-bake method, too -- I've done something like that for bread and I'd love to try it on seitan.

    And maybe you've already seen it, but the 2015 blog roll is now on veganmofo.com! :)
    http://www.veganmofo.com/2015-blogroll/

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    1. Thanks for the link Bonnie! I thanked Amey for all the work she's done for MoFo...like you said, it must take a while with all the other media links.

      Sauerkraut isn't to everyone's tastes...my husband doesn't like it at all. But cooking mellows it a little and changes the texture a bit...I usually just eat it raw.

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  7. That looks well and truly delicious, and an incredibly comforting meal. I can't get enough sauerkraut in my life! I do remember really liking ribs as a kid until I worked out what they actually were! These ones are much more up my street!

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  8. Joey:

    I'm a sauerkraut monster too; I eat it almost every day.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe I've missed this sort of dish since going vegan!

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  10. Thanks for stopping by. Seitan definitely hits the spot sometimes for harkening back to pre-vegan days.

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  11. I only tried sauerkraut recently after thinking I hated it and to my surprise loved it! I need to try making my own next.

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    1. You should try your own. It's easy so long as you get the salt ratio right. I recommend FireFly Kitchens' Fresh and Fermented cookbook. They scale down their own recipes for the home cook. I was able to check the book out of the library.

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  12. Wow! Really pretty! Mr. Dandelion must be loving this MoFo!

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    1. Well, sort of I guess...he doesn't like sauerkraut though. He's a weirdo.

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