“You know, I could not run away it seemed we’d seen each other in a dream”
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Looking back on my formative music years in the ’70s, I honestly can only remember one major woman rock act: Heart. Sure, there were plenty of acts with women lead singers, but Heart was the only one I remember as being creatively driven by women. Yes, I’m sure Fleetwood Mac fans will take me to task on this, but I stand by my assertion. The latter half of the ’70s with the rise of new wave and punk would usher in a ton of great women-led bands, and I believe they all owe a debt of gratitude to the release of Dreamboat Annie and the rock swagger of the Wilson Sisters.
True confession: Ann Wilson was my first rock crush. While my friends had Sports Illustrated swimsuit models and Farrah Fawcett on their walls, I was rocking Heart. Dreamboat Annie was one of the first albums I owned and remains a favorite 46 (yikes!) years later. While “Magic Man” fits the pun for this recipe, it’s “Sing Child” which’s my fave on this album. It’s a bluesy gutsy rocker that sounds like the Wilson Sisters channeling Led Zepplin with the addition of a Jethro Tull flute solo. So brilliantly effed up I can’t help but love it. I collected all of Heart’s albums throughout the ’70s, but sadly I feel they fell off creatively with the release of Bébé le Strange. Nonetheless, they remain one of my favorite ’70s bands, and when it came time to name this recipe “Magic Man” was the logical choice.
I’m not a fan of posting photos for the recipe process, but I felt it was necessary here. This recipe is as much about the look of the dough as it is about the process to turn it into spam. Hence the grid above. I promise not to make it a habit.
I realize no one actually needs vegan spam, and definitely, no one needs vegan spam bacon. My only reason to make it was for a vegan version of budae jjigae and because I found the idea to be very amusing. This is certainly one of my more time-intensive seitan recipes. Luckily, it’s really that labor-intensive to make the dough. The results, if you happen to be a SPAM fan, are definitely worth the time. I highly recommend taking a few of the blocks to make bacon. Your breakfast sandwiches will never be the same.
(A hat tip to 86Eats.com. I’m fairly sure it was there I first ran into the super-firm tofu trick to add fattiness. Plus, aspects of their vegan deli ham made it into this recipe.)
I’M A MAGIC SPAM
Seitan SPAM two ways – regular & cured SPAM bacon
Makes about 1 1/2 pounds
1 package super-firm tofu (vacuum packed not in a water tray)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon MSG
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 and 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
8 – 12 drop red food coloring
Drain tofu and wrap in a paper towel. Squeeze out extra moisture with your hands. Break into chunks and add to a food processor with the rest of the ingredients except the vital wheat gluten and food coloring and process until smooth like a puree. Add 6-8 drops of food coloring to the puree and blend until mixed thoroughly. Add vital wheat gluten evenly over the top and mix until just combined. Check the color and add a few more drops of food coloring, then mixing, until you have a dough that looks like ground pork.
Turn dough onto the counter and knead 20-25 times. Let rest, covered with a clean towel, for 30 minutes. Press dough into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Mold into a loaf shape. Place a piece of parchment on top of the loaf, and add a foil-covered brick or weighted can on top. Compress for 30 minutes.
Remove dough from pan and slice into SPAM size portions. Wrap each portion tightly in foil.
Place packets in a steamer insert of a steamer pot. Fill the base of the pot with water making sure it doesn’t touch the steamer insert. Cover and steam for 1 hour. Remove the packets from the steamer and transfer them to a cooling rack. When cool enough to handle, unwrap and place on the rack to cool completely.
You’ll notice the steaming has created a red crust on the outside of the loaves. If you want to stop here, it’s still a delicious spiced ham. If, however, you’re going for the full SPAM experience, carefully trim off the outer crust forming each loaf into a rectangle. Place the trimmed loaves in an air-tight container in the fridge for three days to cure before using. Save the trimmed crusts to fry like bacon.
SPAM Bacon Cure
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon MSG
Mix the cure together in a bowl. Take a piece of seitan SPAM, coat lightly with vegetable oil, and coat thoroughly in the cure. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into a ziplock bag. Let it cure in the fridge for 6 days, flipping it over each day. When curing is done, remove from the plastic wrap and rinse off the remaining cure. Let air dry for 1/2 hour. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.