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Cook Lemongrass Five Spice Seitan with The Cinnamon Snail in New York
When we add new menu items, it means we have to take something off. But when we tried to take off the Lemongrass Five-Spice Seitan, rioting ensued. This ever-popular sandwich draws inspiration from all over Asia—Thai influences from the curried cashews and the lemongrass marinade, a hint of Japan in the wasabi mayonnaise, and Chinese flavors in the Szechuan chile sauce and five-spice powder. Served on a crisp French baguette, it is reminiscent of Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.

The cashews are a mellow, Thai-inspired version of a classic Indian snack that is fried and tossed with hot chili powder, salt, and hing (a savory, sulfury asafetida powder). Instead of frying the nuts, we prepare them in a food dehydrator for a cleaner, brighter taste. If you can’t wait two days for the cashews to be ready, you can bake them instead. They will still be wonderful, but the seasonings will be slightly muted.

Makes three sandwiches

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  • Step 1

    Prepare the cashews: Place the cashews in a medium bowl. Place the vinegar, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, ginger, olive oil, sambar masala, asafetida, and red curry paste in a blender and blend them at high speed for 30 seconds. Pour the puree over the cashews. Mix briefly to distribute evenly. Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes

    For a dehydrator: Carefully spread the cashews and all the liquid on a single dehydrator tray with a Teflex sheet. Dehydrate at 112°F for 24 hours. Remove the Teflex sheet, placing the cashews directly on the dehydrator screen. Continue to dehydrate for 24 more hours. (These cashews can stay fresh for 2 months if stored in an airtight container.)

    For an oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the seasoned cashews on a parchment
    paper–lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake the cashews for 12 minutes, until the nuts are lightly golden and have absorbed most of the marinade.

  • Step 2

    Make the lemongrass marinade: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemongrass and ginger and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until the ginger is fragrant and golden. Add the cilantro, curry paste, fivespice powder, and plum vinegar with 1½ cups water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the ingredients to soften in the hot water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend at high speed for 45 seconds to form a smooth marinade. Chill the marinade until ready to use. (Sealed and refrigerated, the marinade will last for up to 8 days.)

  • Step 3

    Make the chile sauce: Heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, chipotle powder, cloves, and ginger. Stir the spices in the oil until they become fragrant but not too dark, 40 to 60 seconds. Place the fried spices and oil into a blender along with the agave nectar, tomato paste, and 1 cup water. Blend on high speed for 45 seconds to form a smooth, emulsified sauce. Set aside.

  • Step 4

    Cook the seitan: Heat the olive oil in a large pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped seitan and sauté for 4 to 6 minutes, until the seitan is seared and golden brown in spots. Pour ¾ cup of the lemongrass marinade onto the seitan and allow it to cook for another 2 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Assemble the sandwiches: Heat a pan or griddle over medium heat. Cut each baguette portion in half lengthwise. Toast the baguettes in the pan, cut side down. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the wasabi mayonnaise on each baguette half. Place 1 cup of the arugula on each bottom half of baguette, followed by 1¼ cups of the cooked seitan and 2 tablespoons of the chile sauce. Sprinkle liberally with curried cashews and cover with the top half of baguette.

  • Step 6

    Wasabi Mayonnaise
    MAKES 1 PINT

    This has just enough wasabi for a horseradishy punch, without making your glasses fall off. The mirin and rice syrup help keep everything cool and balanced.

    1¾ cups vegan mayonnaise
    3 tablespoons natural wasabi powder
    ¼ cup mirin
    2 teaspoons tamari
    1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

    In a medium bowl, rapidly whisk together the mayonnaise, wasabi powder, mirin, tamari, and brown rice syrup until smooth. (This mayonnaise will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

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