Thursday, August 27, 2009

Polpetti with sweet-and-sour sauce

I wanted to make Bryanna Clark Grogan's "chicken" balls today, but, it being a weeknight and all, there wasn't enough time, so I used frozen polpetti. Now I'm out. The polpetti, from Bryanna's Nonna's Italian Kitchen, are much like the "chicken" and "pork" balls in Authentic Chinese Cuisine, and they are all utterly delicious. The smell while they are steaming is absolutely out of this world. The only problem with them is that they are delicate and liable to fall apart. I'm wondering if there would be less of this if more gluten was added to the recipe…surely Bryanna must have thought of this and tried it…but maybe I will too…

Polpetti with sweet-and-sour sauce (original recipe, with a picture, here)
From Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine
Serves 4

2-3 cups reconstituted textured soy protein chunks
OR small chunks of seitan
OR reconstituted Soy Curls® (use 1 1/2 cups to 2 1/4 cups dry Soy Curls®, reconstituted for 5 minutes in an equal amount of boiling vegetarian broth; drain)
Zoa: OR Bryanna's "chicken" balls or polpetti, which is what I used

1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, cut into 6ths, layers separated
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch squares
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts (preferably fresh) OR 1 large stalk celery, sliced 1/4" thick
1/4 cup frozen petit pois (baby peas) thawed in hot water and drained
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped

Cooking sauce:
3 tbsp tomato sauce (or 1 and 1/2 Tbs EACH water and tomato paste)
2 tbsp rice vinegar, plain (or substitute cider vinegar or white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp light organic unbleached sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
3/4 cup water

1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

Roll the reconstituted soy protein (or seitan) chunks or Soy Curls® (or polpetti) in cornstarch or water chestnut flour, shaking off the excess starch. Heat about a cup of oil in a wok to 375°F. Fry the chunks in several batches in the hot oil until they are golden and crispy, then drain them on paper towels on a cookie sheet. Keep them warm in a 200°F oven.

Heat a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. When it's very hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry until the onion starts to turn translucent, adding a few drops of water, if necessary to keep from sticking. Add the water chestnuts or celery, and the peas, along with the cooking sauce. Bring this to a boil, then stir in the thickener. Stir until it thickens and quickly add the warm fried gluten, soy protein, or polpetti. Stir well to heat through and serve immediately with rice.

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