Garlicky Chipotle Lima Beans with Smoky Seitan

I love lima beans! Mom, are you reading this?!

Lima beans are the only food I can think of that I didn’t like when I was little. My family never had much to do with mushrooms, so I didn’t realize until I was older that my real hatred is mushrooms. I expend so much energy hating mushrooms that I often forget to hate lima beans because although people are always trying to shove mushrooms down the throats of vegetarians like they are some mystical, meaty non-meat product that I must be lusting for, but no one ever tries to make you eat lima beans once you move out of your parents’ house. So the only time I ever remember that I hate lima beans is on Thanksgiving when my mom makes succotash with corn and frozen limas. And honestly, I can eat them that way, I’d just rather not because they are nasty.

I did learn a couple of years ago that I don’t hate large lima beans; it’s only baby limas I don’t like. But then I decided to test this thing out a little more and bought dried baby lima beans. I had no idea what to do with them – honestly the only thing I’ve ever seen a lima bean in is my mom’s succotash – so I did some googling today and found the promising Baby Lima Bean Soup with Chipotle Broth on 101 Cookbooks. Here is my variation; instead of a soup, I made them a lot thicker, as well as I think spicier and garlickier. I also made use of a product that is new to me that was recommended by a commenter: Goya Ham-flavored concentrate. Lucy at Vegan Del Ray recommended it for obtaining that elusive ham flavor in my seitan ham, and when I spied it at Wegmans I decided to check it out. If you can’t find this stuff, try substituting some liquid smoke or vegan “bacon” bits, or smoked paprika, and add some salt.

Garlicky Chipotle Lima Beans

8 oz dried baby lima beans (large limas would probably work fine too)
1-3 dried chipotle peppers (depending on how much heat you like)
1 small or 1/2 large head garlic, cloves removed and peeled but left whole
3 large shallots or 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 packet Goya ham-flavored concentrate

Soak the beans overnight, or speed soak by bring to a boil in 4 cups of water, simmering for two minutes, then removing from heat and letting sit for an hour. Drain. Place the soaked beans, 4 cups fresh water, the chipotles, and the concentrate in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, sauté the shallots or onions in a small amount of oil …

… until beginning to caramelize. (I wouldn’t ordinarily have used such a small skillet – I was breaking in my recently seasoned little skillets and actually did half the shallots in each.)

Add the shallots or onions to the bean pot …

… reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for one to one and a half hours, or until beans are soft.

Meanwhile, I wanted a sort of “meaty” accompaniment to the beans, so I removed some seitan I had frozen from the freezer. To quickly defrost it, I merely sat it on top of the stove while I was seasoning my skillets at 500 degrees. Then I chopped it into bite-sized pieces and made a marinade using 1/2 cup soy sauce, 4 cloves pressed garlic, some fresh pepper, another packet of “ham” concentrate, and a cup of water, which I whisked together in the awesome wide vintage Pyrex bowl I scored for $10 at the antique mall yesterday when skillet shopping because I have the best luck ever:

Then I added the chopped seitan and let it marinate while the limas cooked.

When the limas were about done, I heated my new skillets: again, I’m using very small ones here, one serving in each, when usually I’d use one big skillet, just because I was breaking in my seasoning. I sautéed a chopped scallion and a chopped bell pepper for a minute …

… then added the drained seitan and cooked until it was beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, the lima beans were done:

Then I served it, with some peas because I need green on my plate:

To my immense surprise, this was absolutely delicious! I apparently love lima beans! They just need to be dried, not frozen. And cooked in a smoky, spicy, garlicky wonderfulness! Another note: some say there are two types of people in the world: those who go to great lengths to keep different foods from so much as touching each other on their plates, and those who like to mix all their food together and eat it at once. I’m definitely of the latter variety. And I don’t know why, but the lima beans were very tasty on their own, and the seitan was tasty on its own, but when I combined some lima beans and some seitan on my fork and ate them in one bite, it was a taste sensation! So feel free to try dumping both these dishes into one pot and making a lima-y, seitan-y stew out of them! That’s what I plan to do for lunch tomorrow!

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Soon Tubu JJigae (Soft Tofu Stew)

One of the best meals I had in San Francisco (and I had a lot of great meals) was the first one: tofu stew at a Korean tofu house in Japantown. As I promised at the time, I decided to replicate it tonight.

There aren’t many vegan recipes for soon tubu jjigae on the internet, in fact, I didn’t find any. Everyone seems to want to put clam juice, beef, and shrimp in it. And egg. But none of that stuff is necessary. The important features of soon tubu jjigage are 1) tofu and 2) spiciness, both of which I can produce in spades.

The first thing you need to consider is your tofu. I wouldn’t dream of making soon tubu jjigage with anything but homemade tofu. The tofu is just too big a part of the dish and I’m used to homemade. So I have to urge you to try making it yourself. I ordinarily make an extremely firm tofu, using as much coagulant as I can get away with without it turning bitter and pressing it under about 25 pounds. Because I wanted a much softer tofu for the stew, I cut back on the amount of coagulant I used (I used nigari as usual, but if I’d been thinking more clearly, I’d have used the calcium sulfate I have because it makes a softer tofu AND adds calcium), and I used just 1.5 pounds (a new bottle of agave nectar, to be precise) to press it.

If you simply can not be bothered to make your own tofu, buy fresh soft tofu from an Asian market if at all possible. If you can’t find fresh, buy the best soft tofu you can find at an Asian market. Sometimes it comes in tubes and it’s usually in the produce department. If you don’t live near an Asian market, you can resort to using silken tofu in a box.

Soon Tubu Jjigae

3 1/2 cups water
1 4″x4″ square kombu
1/4 cup dulse, snipped into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears (optional)
1 handful arame (optional)
2 tsp vegan chicken bouillon (or enough to flavor 4 cups of water at half-strength)
1 Tbsp Korean red pepper powder
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup cold water
3 Tbsp arrowroot
6 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste) (Susan V of Fat-Free Vegan has a substitute you can make if you don’t live near a Korean grocery store in this post, but get the real deal if at all possible.)
1 cup cabbage kimchi
2 carrots, julienned or shredded
1 pound soft tofu, preferably homemade
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped

Place the seaweed(s) in a soup pot with the 3 1/2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the kombu. (You can chop it up into bite-sized pieces and put it back in if you wish.) Add the garlic, red pepper powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, and “chicken” bouillon. Simmer for five minutes.

Mix the cold water and arrowroot together in a small bowl, whisking to ensure there are no lumps, then add to the soup. Add the gochujang, whisking to make sure it is dissolved. Simmer for another five minutes.

Add the kimchi and carrots.

Chop the tofu into 8 large pieces.

Add the tofu to the stew.

Stir the tofu into the stew, allowing it to break up a little bit, but mostly maintaining the chunks.

Simmer for 5 more minutes, then add the scallions.

Raise the heat a little and cook for another couple of minutes. In restaurants, soon tubu jjigae arrives to your table very, very hot, so let it get very bubbly.

I served the soon tubu jjigae in individual-sized cast iron pots, which even have lids to keep the stew warm while I run around taking photographs. Here’s one of the pots:

Mark was fascinated by the “little cauldrons”.

Serve with several banchan.

The verdict on this one was very good. Mark commented that he tasted “several layers of flavor, followed by a nice spiciness.” He proceeded to clean his cauldron, then steal tofu from mine. Afterwards he told me to announce it had the Mark Seal of Approval.

Brachtune doesn’t care much for tofu, or stew for that matter, but she does love chopsticks.

Tigger prefers red pepper.

(His fur is wet because he took a little shower in the kitchen sink. He’s very weird.)

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