Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mayan Soy Curls with spicy orange paste

This is a veganization of a popular recipe on the Internet, originally from Jay Solomon's Global Grilling.  It features annatto seeds and scotch bonnet peppers, but you can substitute any hot fresh pepper of your choice for the scotch bonnets.  You can also leave the annatto out which will not affect the taste of the dish, but you will lose the gorgeous bright orange colour.  Annatto is a Mexican-type ingredient (but I bought mine in the oriental market).  I'm rapidly becoming addicted to it, as perhaps you can tell.

Mayan Soy Curls with spicy orange paste
serves 2

3/4 cup dry Soy Curls
1/2 tsp broth powder

1 tbsp anchiote (annatto) oil or 1 tsp annatto seeds + 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil

1/4 cup bitter orange juice (or 2 tbsp orange juice mixed with 2 tbsp grapefruit juice)
2 tsp finely minced scotch bonnet or habanero peppers
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cornstarch + 1/4 cup cold water (optional)

First, place your Soy Curls in a container and cover them with hot water.  Stir in the broth powder, and leave them to reconstitute for about 10 minutes or until they're soft, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

If you are making your own annatto oil, you need to heat the annatto seeds in the oil for a few minutes, then strain off the oil.  Instructions are here if you need them.

Mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a measuring cup, and add the annatto oil:

Stir it all up to make the marinade/cooking sauce:

Now drain the reconstituted Soy Curls, and squeeze out as much water as you easily can.  They should be spongy but not dry.  One of the great advantages that Soy Curls have over, say, chicken, is that they are so spongy, and, like sponges, almost instantly absorb the sauces they're marinated in. 

Pour all the sauce over the drained Soy Curls in a bowl and stir to mix.  All or almost all of the sauce should be absorbed:

Once that happens, and it should take just seconds, there's no reason to marinate it any longer, and it can go right into a hot non-stick frying pan.  Stir and fry until the Soy Curl mixture is beginning to brown, about five minutes.  The color of the annatto oil will come out and the dish will turn beautifully orange:

At this point the recipe is technically done, but since the curls seemed a bit dry, I mixed 1 tsp of cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water and poured it over.  The result was a beautiful lacquered glaze that I would recommend:

And serve immediately.  I had it with a light vegetable stir fry, jasmine rice, and sliced avocado, and it was great: tart and hot and spicy all at once.  This method of cooking meat substitutes or tofu, braised or stir-fried in small pieces with highly-flavoured sauces, is perfect for vegans and is freeing me to explore a whole world of omni recipes that I wouldn't even have looked at before.  I'm looking now, though...


  1. Tantalizing, especially with the avocado. I love the orange color, it's easy to see how you would become attached to annatto

  2. What a colorful dish! I still need to get my hands on some soy curls... :)