Ever since my mom gave me the Mexican cookbook Muy Bueno, I have wanted to make a rice drink called “horchata.” But I got the cookbook for Christmas and it seemed like a summery drink, so I kind of forgot about it. That is, until a friend brought this version to my attention on Thursday over at Food 52. I looked at the recipe and really wanted to make it! But I had no blanched almonds, and I didn’t want to wait until I went to the store. On Friday, with a day off of work, I pulled out Muy Bueno and sure enough, that drink was also horchata, but just rice, no almonds. I also decided on Friday that I needed to make some seitan and inspired by the horchata, I picked out Beer-Marinated Fajitas from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Later in the day, I realized I did not have enough hours in the day to both make and marinate the seitan, or allow the horchata to get cold, so all of this became a two-day affair.
Day 1. Friday, May 24.
First I had to set up the rice for the horchata. I put one cup of long-grain white rice into the food processor and ground it up a bit.
Then I boiled six cups of water in a large pot and removed from the heat before adding the ground up rice, a cinnamon stick, and two whole cloves.
I covered the pot and it sat at room temperature for 8 hours. When I removed the cover 8 hours later, it looked like this:
I broke the cinnamon stick up and put all of this into my blender and pureed it for a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, the blender handled this fine. I did not need to do it in batches.
Next up, the messy part. I put a sieve over a wide-mouth jar and spread a piece of cheesecloth folded in half over it. I carefully poured a small amount of rice mixture into it and squeezed the liquid out into the jar. I somehow developed a technique after spilling a bunch on my first try. It would be much easier with a nut-milk bag or paint straining bag, neither of which I have.
When I finished straining the rice mixture, I made some medium simple syrup: 2 cups of water and 2 cups of granulated sugar heated on the stove until the sugar dissolved. I added 2 cups of the simple syrup (I have 1/2 cup left over) into my jug of rice mixture. In the end the fact that I spilled some of the rice goop at first was a good thing, because after I added the simple syrup, my container was full:
I stirred it all up and put it in the refrigerator to chill over night.
Now for my other big project, the seitan:
Seitan is easy to make, so I never buy it. For the fajitas, I followed Robin Robertson’s recipe for basic simmered seitan. I combined 1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp onion power, and 1/4 tsp sweet paprika in my food processor.
Then I added 1 tbs olive oil, 3 tbs soy sauce, and 1 2/3 cups cold water to the dry ingredients and processed for about a minute to form the dough. I floured my pizza peel and poured the gluten dough onto it.
I kneaded it with some flour until I had a nice elastic ball of dough and then cut it into four equal parts with a serrated knife.
I don’t have a picture of the next step because it just looked nasty. Plus, it’s pretty straightforward: In my soup pot I combined 2 quarts of water, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. I brought it to a boil and added the four balls of gluten dough. I reduced the heat and covered the pot, letting it simmer for about an hour. After an hour, I turned off the heat and allowed the seitan to cool in the liquid and then refrigerated all of it.
Day 2. Saturday, May 25.
Time to make fajitas!
Early in the afternoon I made the marinade. I combined 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tsp fresh lime juice, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 cup of beer (IPA if you are wondering). I cut one hunk of the seitan into strips and placed them in the marinade. Then I refrigerated that for about 4 hours. Maybe it was 5, I don’t remember. But it needs a minimum of four hours.
Then, around 6pm, it was time to finally cook this stuff. I heated 2 tbs olive oil in my skillet and placed the strips of seitan in it to brown up.
Since I didn’t have cilantro when I made the marinade, I added chopped cilantro as I browned the seitan and also when I assembled the fajitas. While the seitan browned, I prepared an avocado: I sliced it open and then scored it to make it easy to scoop it out with a spoon:
After turning the seitan and letting the second side brown a little, I poured the marinade into the skillet and let it cook away.
I warmed two large flour tortillas on low heat in my soup pot with the lid on. When the lid steamed up, I took them out and assembled the fajitas. I put a quarter of seitan mixture down the center, added some avocado, sprinkled some chopped cilantro on it, spooned some hot salsa all over, and wrapped them up.
And I poured myself a glass of horchata (actually, I did it earlier in the day but let’s pretend):
You have to stir the horchata up really well before pouring, but it is a yummy, sweet, thick yet surprisingly refreshing drink. And the fajitas were amazingly flavorful. We each ate two, so there are no leftovers. But I have plenty of seitan with which to make more delicious dishes later this week.