Seitan Rendang

I was feeling like something with South East Asian flavors for dinner and decided to try a vegetarian version of rendang curry. Rendang curry is a popular dry curry from Malaysia and Indonesian. You cook the curry until all the gravy dries out making it a super rich and flavor dish. I used West Soy seitan chunks in this and they turned out really good! I wasn’t sure if they would get tough while cooking, but they stayed very tender! The good thing about using seitan is that it doesn’t take nearly so long to cook; traditional rendang can take hours.  Seitan is high protein “wheat meat” that is made by taking the starch out of whole wheat flour and leaving just the gluten. My recipe is adapated from RasaMalaysia.

The sad thing is that up until a couple of weeks ago, I had fresh galangal and lemon grass in the fridge. I finally threw them out because they were getting moldy. While we are lucky to live a couple blocks from an Indian market, we aren’t so lucky as to also have an Asian market close by, so I end up using Whole Foods for specialty Asian ingredients more than I would like (too expensive!). I could have sworn I had seen fresh galangal at Whole Foods before, but they didn’t have it today and they also didn’t have fresh lemon grass like they normally do! But they did have both in a dried variety that worked out in a pinch. Galangal is an interesting ingredient. Some relate it to ginger, but I find it quite different. It has a medicinal taste/smell almost and a little bit of a mustard vibe.

I find that grinding raw onions and other ingredients into a paste and then sauteing them takes a lot of oil and a long time to get the raw smell to go away. Therefore I usually saute the onions and other ingredients first and then grind them into a paste.

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion sliced
3 garlic cloves sliced
1 inch ginger sliced
1 inch galangal (or 4 pieces dried galangal soaked in hot water)
2 lemon grass stalks, the soft middle soft part sliced (or 2 dried lemon grass stalks soaked in hot water)
5-6 dried red chilis soaked in hot water
2 star anise
2 cloves
1 piece cinnamon bark
1 cardamom pod
1 teaspoon coriander ground
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar (if you don’t have palm sugar, you can substitute jaggery or brown sugar)
4 tablespoons dessicated coconut toasted until browned
5 kaffir lime leaves thinly sliced
1/2-1 cup water
2 8oz packages seitan chunks

  1. Heat oil in a small wok and cook onions until translucent, adding the garlic, ginger, galangal and lemon grass part way through.
  2. Throw the onion mixture and the red chilis into a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Toast star anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamon for a couple of minutes and grind with the coriander (I used a coffee grinder).
  4. Add onion paste back to pan and add ground spices, coconut milk, tamarind paste, palm sugar, toasted coconut, and kaffir lime leaves and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add water, salt and seitan and cook over fairly high heat until the liquid has all evaporated. Be careful not to add too much salt since everything concentrates.
  6. Serve with white rice.

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