People often ask me if eating a vegan diet while my husband eats meat ever causes conflict, and my answer is always an unequivocal nope! However, there is one thing that causes an issue from time to time—our opposing views on spicy food. I really, really love spicy food and he can’t stand it. In fact, he has an uncanny ability to detect the tiniest amount of spiciness in any dish and always points it out to me. I prefer to put minced hot peppers or sriracha on everything I can, and it’s still never enough. I’ve read a few interesting articles on capsaicin, a chemical found in spicy food, which can trigger an endorphin rush in some people, and may explain why it’s so appealing. It’s a viable theory, but I also like to think that I enjoy it because it just tastes really good.
One spicy prepared food item that I really like is Field Roast’s Mexican Chipotle vegan sausages, but I’ve been wanting to make a homemade version so I could jack up and create a balanced heat level myself. For these fiery slices, I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s method of steaming and browning for her Simple Italian Sausages. The reason why this method is so great is that wheat gluten typically gets super dry during the baking process, but steaming infuses moisture into every nook and cranny of the sausage, yielding a succulent and perfectly textured end product. Slice up and brown these sausages to pair with polenta for a hearty and rustic dish, use it in a lasagna when the weather cools down a bit or serve alongside some breakfast hashbrowns or french toast.
Heavily adapted from theppk.com.
1/2 cup refried beans
1/2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice powder
fresh or dried thai chilis, sliced or habanero powder or peppers, minced (use whatever amount you want)
1 TB hot chili oil
1 small shallot, grated on a microplane zester
1 head of roasted garlic, pureed (or 2-3 raw cloves, grated on a microplane zester)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 TB soy sauce
3 TB chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups cold vegetable broth, plus a bit extra if needed
2 cups vital wheat gluten (VWG)
toasted sesame oilMETHOD
In a large glass bowl, combine the first thirteen ingredients. Mix well. Taste the mixture and adjust any spices as needed.
Now add in the cold broth and mix again until well combined. Add in half of the vital wheat gluten and stir again until well combined. Then add in the rest of the VWG and stir until smooth. It should be soft and squishy, but cleanly adhered together, and all of the VWG should be completely absorbed. Add a bit more cold broth if needed to achieve that texture.
Divide the mixture into four equal pieces. Roll each of the pieces into a cylindrical shape. Place a piece of tin foil on your counter and place a little toasted sesame oil in the middle. Place the sausage of top of that, and roll it up tightly, twisting the ends to create a seal.
Place the sausages in a bamboo or steamer basket. Place that into a larger skillet with a tight fitting lid. Fill the pan with enough water so it comes up halfway to the steamer basket, but does not touch the bottom part of the steamer (you don’t want the boiling water to actually touch your sausages). Place the lid over the top and steam over medium heat for 40 minutes.
Remove the sausages from the steamer and allow to cool. If you are not serving right away, keep them wrapped in the tin foil and seal in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.
To serve, slice them up into 1/4-inch thick or thinner slices, then give them a quick sear in a hot skillet with a little toasted sesame oil.