Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hijiki Seitan Ceviche with Nopalitos & Wild Rice -- A fresh summer dish!

I just had dinner and it was even better than I expected. Tangy, spicy, savory and fresh--hijiki seitan ceviche with nopalitos and wild rice on a store bought tostadas. Now I am sitting here, with a smiling and wondering why I never made vegan ceviche before.

For the most part, I cook from my pantry. Sometimes I find inspiration in cookbooks and online but generally I just put stuff together. Confession: I always think the things I make are good but I only share the good stuff, be it online or in real-life. Some of my concoctions are too weird-looking. But my concoction today, looks nice and I wish my omnivorous roommates were not so vegan-phobic because I made A LOT and they are certainly missing out!

Today, I discovered a bag of Hijiki in the cupboard. And then I thought about the 25 lbs. of gluten that I have. Then I remembered, with a deep sense of longing, that just last summer I would get my vegan ceviche fix at the now-defunct Rancho's Natural Market here in San Diego. To be quite honest, their ceviche was not "all that" but it was the only vegan ceviche around. I'd never made my own vegan ceviche before. Then I thought about my old landlord, Bruno, who was from Peru and loved talking, exhaustively about ceviche. So, it has been decided for me: I must make ceviche!

I added wild rice for textural/color contrast, to make the ceviche a little more substantial and because I just love it. The hijiki imparts a subtle "oceany flavor". If you can't find hijiki, I am sure a pulverized sheet of nori might work just as well. Make sure to chop seitan into small pieces so they can thoroughly absord all the wonderful flavors.
A note on SEITAN: I think I have finally come up with a simple and fool-proof seitan recipe. With the addition of the chickpea flour it's tender and not rubbery. That's the first secret. Plus, it mellows out that hard to describe gluten flavor. Without the hijiki and soy-sauce, this is my basic seitan. You can season the basic version with your favorite spices and seasonings. The second secret is wrapping it up really tightly with clean tea towel, kind of like a hard candy. Tie the ends. Boil it wrapped up like this. Beware: If any of the seitan escapes, it will be spongy! Another benefit of making it this way is that you don't have to season the boiling liquid as all the flavors are contained in the bundled seitan. Try it and let me know what you think.

Hijiki Seitan

1 cup gluten powder

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/4 cup hijiki

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp oil

1 cup warm water

Mix flours & hijiki. Separetely mix soy sauce, oil and water. Add to dry mixture. Knead well. Let stand for 10 mins. For into a log, or chub and tightly wrap with cheesecloth or other impeccably clean fabric. Boil in large pot of water for 1 hour.

Hijiki Seitan Ceviche with Nopalitos and Wild Rice

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

juice of 4 limes

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 large cucumber, remove seeds and chopped

2 cups chopped nopalitos (if using fresh, blanch first OR if using canned rinse well)

1 cup cooked wild rice

1/2 cup hijiki

4 cups chopped seitan (I used my "hijiki seitan")

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Can be served at room temperature or cold.

Serve on tostadas with avocado and extra limes. Also good with saltines. Great with an icy cold Mexican beer!

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