For vegetarians and vegans, holiday mains often disappoint — and with good reason.
Tofurky, a much-loathed turkey substitute, tastes neither of tofu or turkey, and tends to have the vibe of a rubbery, freezer-burnt salt lick. Soy sausages, another popular go-to for herbivores, can have a plastic mouthfeel and an over-fragrant, mystery-herb aroma. Other meat analogs, like tempeh chicken, usually get drowned in sauce, which does little to mask their mealy, liquid smoke-laden flavor.
Among the flesh substitutes, seitan tastes most like the meat it mimics: Flanks are fibrous and a little chewy, just like you’d expect from a bite of beef, chicken, or pork.
At Angelica Kitchen, which served a $55, five-course fixed-price meal on Thanksgiving, diners had the option of picking seitan as a main course. (The other choice: a tofu and vegetable soufflé topped with a tart cranberry glaze).
Angelica’s homemade approach, accented with chanterelle and maitake mushrooms, felt hearty and rich, like a red-wine-based stew — something Beowulf would consider washing down with a tall glass with mead, after a long day fighting Grendel.
The seitan strips had a steak-like feel, and the onion and turnip accents added an unexpected complexity: This wasn’t a fake goulash: It was a vegan lomo saltado of sorts, but one served with pleasantly spiced Yukon Golds and braised Brussels sprouts — not plain ol’ french fries and rice.
My dad — a true meat-and-potatoes kind of guy who eats only eats “this fucking hippie food” because he loves my vegan mom too much — actually thought that the dish was tastier than traditional turkey.
His exact words? “Shit! This tastes just like meat!”
He inhaled the rest of his meal — and then polished off my mom’s dinner when she wasn’t looking.