I must confess that when I first heard about piccata dishes (traditionally chicken and veal piccata, ugh), I wasn't keen to try them out. I mean..a breaded thing? On top of pasta? Or potatoes? And with a thin (??) butter sauce? Something about that combination just didn't appeal to me: too heavy, perhaps.
But last year I started to rethink the piccata. After eating a knockout seitan piccata at Blossom (which, by the way, included maybe the best seitan I've ever tried), I took the whole idea more seriously. A few months after that, my friends at Sgaia Foods kindly let me try some of their fine handmade wheat-meat (AKA Mheat). I immediately remembered the piccata and, lo and behold, when I tried it out, I was bowled over.
As I'd expected, all the breading and the butter made for something rich; but that richness was just about perfectly balanced by the capers' floral fruitiness, the lemon's acidity, and the parsley's freshness. I felt lucky to have the Mheat too, because I felt the dish wouldn't have worked with just any old seitan; the "steak" is so central to the dish that its quality really is a deal-breaker, so don't skimp on it. Choosing a good seitan or making your own really does make the piccata. Oh, and go for steaks which are on the thin side (the Mheat steaks worked great in this regard too); with the breading on the outside thicker steaks can be a bit cumbersome and overwhelming.
Without further ado, here's the full recipe in its current incarnation; no doubt I'll keep tweaking it, but I feel I've been sitting on this one for far too long as it is! Enjoy- and do let me know what you think of the piccata.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
2 seitan steaks (<1cm in thickness, see above notes)
100g plain flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
Enough vegetable oil to fill your frying pan to a depth of 1-2 cm
250ml vegan white wine
40ml fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp vegan butter
5 cloves of garlic, minced
80g brined capers (drained)
2 big handfuls of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Ground sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
1./ Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Whisk the aquafaba by hand for a couple of minutes, adding the tapioca flour halfway through. Add the resulting mixture to a wide, shallow dish; put the plain flour separately in something similar, and the breadcrumbs in a third dish.
2./ Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Dredge the first of the seitan steaks in the flour. Make sure it's fully coated, knock off any excess, then dunk briefly into the aquafaba mixture. From there transfer to the breadcrumbs and cover well. Then repeat the process- flour, aquafaba, breadcrumbs- a second time (this will give you a nice thick breading, but feel free to just do one layer if you'd rather). Shake off any excess stuff and fry in the pan for 5 minutes on each side, or till crisp and golden all over. Place the cooked steak in the oven on a heatproof plate while you repeat the process with the other one.
3./ When both the steaks are breaded and cooked (or while you're frying them), make the piccata sauce. Heat up a drop of the olive oil in a small or medium saucepan, then add the minced garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes, till softened and golden brown. Add in the white wine and capers and bring to a simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes (or till reduced by half). Continuing to simmer, slowly whisk in the butter and remaining olive oil till emulsified. Then whisk in the lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.
4./ Serve immediately over the breaded seitan with pasta or buttery mashed potatoes.
Until next time...