I really haven't had much time to myself in the kitchen over the last few weeks. First came Christmas, then came a head cold so brutal that I spent several days in the fetal position dividing my time between naps and staring blankly at the TV screen. Then came New Year's and the futile attempt at getting organized in a post-holiday decorations home, followed by the return to work.
Needless to say, we've been eating a lot of takeout curry and Tofurky sandwiches.
But now that we're settled and have the first major grocery trip of 2011 under our belts, I've made my triumphant return to the kitchen and even found the time to try a new recipe.
And it turns out it is quite possibly the best thing that's ever come out of my kitchen.
The recipe comes from Vegan with a Vengeance and I have been curious about it since I got the cookbook several years ago. Every time I open the book up, I eyeball this recipe for a few minutes before ultimately selecting something else.
There were two things holding me back. Firstly and most basically - the ingredients list is alarmingly long.
Secondly, I'm really not one for cold noodles. All slimy and squirmy, I think it's the texture that has always sketched me out.
If it was the notion of cold noodles that lead to my resistance of this recipe, the peanut sauce is what finally reeled me in. That, and the fact that I finally found some pre-made seitan for sale in Kitchener:
(A special thanks to Amber of Amber and Tanuki's Random Thoughts for directing me to Full Circle Foods!)
This meal has four integral components, their deliciousness resting on quite precise temperatures.
Firstly, the Udon noodles, which are cooked and then drained under cold water until they are cold to the touch.
Next, the peanut sauce, which is meant to be room temperature:
Then, the vegetables, which are cold and crisp:
And finally, the seitan, which is pan-fried and served hot:
Although there are many individual components, this meal comes together relatively quickly. My fear of that ominous ingredients list was totally unwarranted.
The deliciously contrasting flavours are layered one on top of the other, starting with the Udon noodles and topped with the peanut butter sauce and some sesame seeds, followed by the raw vegetables and the seitan.
The bottom layer is by far my favourite! I'm a carb-o-holic and proud of it.
This recipe has been around since the dawn of veganism (not really, but you know what I mean) and so there are tons of reports from in and around the blogosphere with regard to its deliciousness. If you don't believe us, you'll just have to try it for yourself. And if you don't have a copy of Vegan with a Vegeance, here isthe recipe.