So this time, we’re starting with a story.
Way back in 1998 , I was an eager high school graduate headed to downstate Illinois for my very first Freshman orientation with my best friend. We visited the entire campus and I was sure–absolutely certain, in fact–that I, of the dubious navigation talents, would be able to get from one class to the next with ease after this two-day trip.
For those of you wondering, it took me two weeks to navigate the campus freely.
But, I digress. On the first day of orientation, lunch was served in what was considered the “freshman dorm cafeteria” where my bestie and I didn’t end up getting a room, but we had a dish I had never had before. Pepper Steak. It wasn’t very good because the steak was tough, but the sauce was spicy and tangy and delicious. My taste buds were intrigued, needless to say and since then, I have recreated it about a dozen times.
This time, I went for something a little different, pepper steak stir-fry with mushrooms and mince instead of tofu or seitan. Let’s see how it went…
It wasn’t until years later, when the internet became A THING, that I looked up a real recipe and tried to recreate it but over the years I have used pretty much every source of protein and every blend of Asian flavors to get it just right.
This time, I kept it simple and used Naturli vegan mince, because then you never–ever–have to worry about drying out the vegan protein and I was more focused on the sauce. This vegan pepper steak stir-fry is easy to make and includes a pretty simple ingredients list.
Naturli vegan mince
Korean chili paste (Gochugang)
Get your prep work done first and pretty much any vegan meal is quick and easy!
Get the mushrooms going in the oven to help dry them out a bit so they’ll get crispy instead of soggy when you add them back to the sauce.
While the mushrooms cook, heat a pan on medium-high heat on the stove and add a tablespoon each of soy sauce and water. This will act as your oil and what I like to do is add the spices right to the pan. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, cumin, smoky paprika, curry, lemongrass and cinnamon. Stir until a thick-ish paste forms and add ginger onion and peppers, cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are transluscent.
Add in garlic and cook a few more minutes, no more than 4.
Next, add the vegan mince or whatever vegan protein you choose, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. I like to get the edges nice and crispy so it doesn’t get too soft during the rest of the cooking process.
Add in the gochugang, cornstarch-water slurry and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer until thick.
Toss in mushrooms and serve on a bed of rice. Or noodles. Noodles are ALWAYS an option!
This is a quick and easy vegan dish that you can make in a pinch, subbing the mince for soy or tofu, seitan or tempeh, or even beans. The sauce is the star of this show, so take your time.
If your sauce is too sweet, add mirin or rice vinegar to even out the flavor profile
Korean chili flakes are a great way to add more heat to your vegan stir-fry
Go easy on the salt if you love the salty flavor of soy sauce and don’t forget to season as you cook
Remember; you are an awesome cook, you just need a few tips to help.