Sometime in the 7th century, while making dough from wheat flour in a tub of cold water, monks in China noticed that the more they kneaded the flour, the more the starches dissipated. But they kept on kneading assiduously and were eventually rewarded with a chewy protein-rich substance which they then simmered in seasoned broth to lend it additional flavor. The monks named their culinary invention Mien Ching or Buddha’s Food.
Mien Ching made its way to Japan where chefs adapted the product by flavoring it with shoyu, kombu and ginger into what they called Fu. This is what Macrobiotics founder George Oshawa later named Seitan.
Nothing else too exciting happened in the world of textured wheat until sometime in the late 1970’s, when Seattle Chef David Lee decided to add a European flavor-profile to his own Seitan product calling it Field Roast.
Today, the Field Roast Grain Meat Company crafts a selection of nicely-textured, well-seasoned grain meat products with a pleasingly neutral and natural taste perfect to use in a variety of alt-meat contexts. The company’s Italian Style vegan sausages, for example, are a perfect choice for Veggie Bolognese.
The recipe is very simple: just crumble up a few of the vegan sausages into a deep pan or dutch oven and saute them in olive oil with garlic, onions, red peppers, a few minced capers, olives, chopped mushrooms, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Next, add a can of organic tomato paste, about a half a cup of red wine, another half cup vegetable stock, a handful of minced fresh garden herbs (Thyme, Sage, Parsley, Marjoram etc.), cover and simmer for a few minutes more.
Now mix into the pan some steaming hot penne or fusilli pasta. Finish with black pepper, some dry-aged cheese if your a lactic-loving vegetarian or crumbled cultured nut-cheese if you’re a vegan. Don’t forget a splash of fine aged balsamic vinegar. Allora! Cibo di Buddah!