in praise of seitan

Recently my wife asked me how to cook eggplant. First, we had received some nice egg-shaped eggplant with our Greenling delivery last week. Secondly, there's a popular eggplant dish in Persian cuisine which I like to fix for the family, and Erin was perhaps hinting :)

The Persian word for eggplant is "bademjan". I remember a similar word used to describe a popular eggplant salad in Russia - which was delicious, but perhaps not quite as savory as the Persian variety.

However, this time we changed up the recipes a bit. We had a craving for "setian" - also called wheat roast or fu. So here goes one for our recipe book, an adaptation of a Persian lamb stew called "khoresh" with our substitutes for the meat - in prase of Seitan:

Slice eggplant - optionally peel them if the peels are too think and tough.

Soak eggplant in brine overnight, to leach out the bitterness - not required for Japanese style eggplant.

Drain eggplant, removing the bitter brine.

In a large iron skillet, heat a centimeter of grapeseed oil, adding freshly grated nutmeg, black pepper, and Hungarian paprika.

Once that begins to snap, add eggplant slices.

Cover and cook, stirring occaisionally so that all the eggplant becomes cooked evenly.

When the eggplant flesh becomes soft and somewhat brown/purple, add equal amounts of seitan (roasted kind).

Stir together, adding enough tomato paste to coat all the "meat".

I like to garnish with a chiffonade of cilatro and garlic chives, which just happen to be locally in season.

I also like to serve this over rice. A nice basmati should work well enough... Persian dishes tend to use a technique called "chelou bah tadig" where the rice is slightly under cooked, then placed into a tall pot which has hot oil and saffron in the bottom. Make "holes" with a wooden spoon all the way from top to bottom of the rice, and wrap the pot's lid with a towel.

The result is a golden crisp at the bottom, where the the rice above becomes a little fluffy and gains an almost "nutlike" or "popcorn" flavor. Place the tomato + seitan + bademjan mix atop that and you'll enjoy a tasty entree.

In fact, I have been tempted to name this dish The Great Seitan.

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