On our way back from a little hike in the woods on Friday, we stopped at the mailbox and found a package….for ME!!! Now, I love nothing more than getting presents, so I could hardly wait to get home to rip open the box, which contained a new vegan cookbook from Francie and Chazz!!!
Funnily enough, I’d been poring over my vegan cookbooks just that morning and kept complaining to James that I felt like I’d already made everything interesting.
Gaz Oakley’s book is quite different though. While the premise of many vegan cookbooks seems to be that vegan cooking can be quick and easy, Oakley seems to focus more on creating fakes of omni food, and I LOVE that kind of thing (though those types of recipes are invariably labour intensive).
So after an enjoyable Saturday morning browsing his recipes, I settled on his Kentucky fried chick’n recipe and jumped right in.
The basic process is similar to the one outlined in his video…
His recipe can also be found here.
After reading the comments on the video and discussing the recipe with Chazz (who makes fried chick’n on the regular), I made a number of changes:
- I added some BTB to the wet mix for extra flavour;
- I used almond milk instead of soy;
- I added a can of jackfruit that had been pulsed several times in the food processor to create a more varied or less-dense texture;
- I wrapped the seitan pieces in wet rice paper before breading to give the chick’n a kind of skin;
- I used Vegg egg replacer and water as the dredge;
- I used the air fryer rather than deep frying the chick’n.
The whole process took quite a long time because it’s multi-step…and also because I feared the seitan would fall apart in the broth because of the jackfruit, so I wrapped the pieces in cheesecloth. No sooner did I have the little packages bobbing away in the broth than I read the instruction that the seitan was supposed to double in size!!!!
So, of course, I had to fish all the carefully wrapped seitan packages out of the simmering broth and unwrap them. Fortunately, the seitan stayed together surprisingly well without the cheesecloth and despite the addition of jackfruit!!
I’ll reproduce the recipe here because I’ve made several changes, but I’ve also included links to the original recipe above for your reference. As I mention above, the process is a bit labour intensive, but TOTALLY WORTH IT! Also, you’ll use every appliance and dish you own, but you’ll also have time between steps to wash the dishes as you go!
Air-Fried Vegan Chick’n
Blend in the Vitamix until smooth:
- 3 dried shitake mushrooms
- 3/4 cup almond milk
Add and blend again until smooth
- 1 cup firm tofu
- 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon base
- 1 tsp miso paste
- 1 tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
Drain, add to food processor, and pulse until grainy:
Add to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk together:
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/4 cup chickpea/fava flour (the original recipe calls for plain chickpea flour)
Add the contents of the Vitamix and food processor to the mixing bowl and mix using the dough hook. Once everything is mixed together, run the mixer on low for five minutes to knead the seitan. According to Gaz, seitan must be hand-kneaded for ten minutes to get the right texture; if you’re using a stand mixer, four or five minutes should do it.
Once the seitan is all mixed and kneaded, it will look like this:
Notice that the jackfruit gives the seitan a much looser structure, but that’s the idea: regular chicken doesn’t have as dense a structure as seitan, so the jackfruit creates some variety (for lack of a better word) in the otherwise dense structure of seitan chick’n.
Let the dough rest for ten minutes while you prepare the broth for simmering the seitan.
Add to a large pot:
- 10 cups vegetable broth (I increased this from the original which called for only 1 litre)
- 4 dried shitake mushrooms
- 2 TBS dried rosemary (Gaz calls for fresh, but I had none!)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 red onion, quartered
- salt & pepper
Turn on the heat and get the broth up to a simmer. To be honest, making seitan isn’t particularly tricky, but maintaining the broth at a constant simmer IS! My broth always seems to be at a full-on boil or at zero bubbles! The process is fairly forgiving, however, because my seitan always turns out just fine.
PROTIP!! Once you’ve finished cooking the seitan in the broth, let it cool, then pour it in the Vitamix and blend until smooth. This will make a nice gravy if you like dipping your fried chick’n in gravy!
Ha–notice the reflection of the kitchen light in the broth picture!
Now cut your seitan into chicken-sized pieces….
…and drop them into the broth.
Let the seitan simmer in the broth for twenty-five minutes. You’ll lose a bit of the jackfruit in the simmering, but no worries: the chunks will retain their basic integrity and double in size.
For this step, you create a kind of skin for the seitan to adhere to. It’s not as tricky as it seems at ALL and is completely worth the extra effort. I consulted with expert vegan chef, Chazz, and she said to just wrap each piece of seitan tightly in the rice paper….like a burrito.
Take a large dish and fill with very warm water and insert (one at a time):
- 8 sheets of rice paper (one for each piece of seitan)
Wrap each of the seitan pieces in one piece of rice paper.
This process is fairly quick and the result looks like this…
In this step, you bread the seitan pieces. Gaz uses a mixture of chickpea flour and water for the dredge, but I use Vegg Egg replacer because it creates a gooier vehicle for the coating. You could also use aqua faba, which works very well!
Mix together in one bowl for the dredge:
- 2.5 tsp Vegg vegan egg yolk
- 2 cups water
Mix together in a second bowl for the coating:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- 2 TBS coconut sugar
- 1 TBS cayenne
- 1 TBS dried chilli flakes
- 1 TBS oregano
- 1 TBS smoked paprika (Gaz uses regular, but I like the smoked)
- 1 TBS sage
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
Alternatively, you can try this mix of spices (apparently, authentic KFC spices!).
Line up the seitan, the dredge, and the coating….
And yeah, baby, that’s a grapefruit martini. What can I say–the process was becoming a bit arduous at this point, so Jamie-boy whipped me up one of his special cocktails! Note the fancy grapefruit twist!
Dip each piece in the dredge and then coat thoroughly in the coating.
Then DO IT AGAIN! Seriously, you need to double dip each piece to get the maximum amount of coating!
Place the coated piece on the air-fryer sheet.
Spray the sheet with oil, and then spray each piece of chick’n with oil. I know this step adds a bit of oil, but Gaz’s recipe calls for deep-frying in a LITRE of oil at this point, and we sure as hell ain’t doin’ THAT!
Air-fry for 25 – 30 minutes, turning at the halfway mark. When you turn the chick’n pieces, check for any dry spots and zap with a quick spray of oil if you see any.
The end result looks like astonishingly chicken-like!!
Step Eight: EAT THAT CHICK’N!!!!!!
And here’s my case for the rice-paper-skin step: just look at this chunk of chick’n with skin!!
This stuff is so damn good that, even though it’s a bit labour intensive, I would make it again in a heartbeat!!
And then I made a couple of nice little open-faced chick’n and bac’n sammies for lunch on Sunday…
And here’s a pic of the club sandwich (on a freshly baked bun) I made for James when he arrived home from grocery shopping.
Bustie is EXTREMELY interested in James’ little repast!
And here’s a nice vegan dessert to go with it all! I did not, of course, make this since desserts are definitely not my forte. This lovely pumpkin spice cake was made by my sister, Biddy, for her vegan daughter, Dana, from a Vegan Yumminess recipe:
And speaking of Dana, we had a nice visit with her last week when she dropped by with three friends for lunch on their way over to Hornby Island. James made a fabulous vegan feast of …
- Vegan Spring Rolls with Chilli-Lime Dipping Sauce
- Sweet Potato and Kalamata Olive Soup
- Mushroom and Artichoke Strudel with Cranberry-Orange Confit
- Asparagus and Cajun New Potatoes
- Freshly Baked Baguettes
- Pecan Pie
Notice the fabulous little pottery wine glasses, a gift from another niece–Annie!
And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” a gorgeously lush song from his Avalon Sunset album (which was released in early 1989 and always reminds me of the first few months of Em’s life):