“You must’ve come here to find it. You’ve got the look in your eyes”
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The first four Aerosmith albums are all classic ’70s bar-band rock. Sleazy, testosterone anthems with a screeching Steven Tyler and the bluesy guitar of Joe Perry. It was the perfect soundtrack to high school years spent sneaking beers, smoking weed, driving a Camaro, wearing too much polyester, and believing yourself cooler than you actually were. It was the soundtrack to a certain time and likely the reason post-’70s Aerosmith sucks. I remain a major fan of those first four albums, but Aerosmith was dead to me after Rocks.
I have been an Aerosmith fan for almost four decades. I have been making some form of loaded fries professionally for about a decade. That I have never put this song together with a fries menu item actually makes me a bit ashamed. It would also be a great name for a chicken thigh sandwich (though perhaps too obvious).
This dish came about due to a couple of leftover seitan steaks. I had a craving for loaded fries and somehow fell down the mash-up rabbit hole to make something vaguely like bulgogi bibimbop fries. The ingredient list might seem daunting, but several ingredients are repeated across the recipe elements. Prep is actually pretty quick all things considered. The real revelation here, though, is the Kimchi Jam topping. All pun intended that’s my jam!
LORD OF THE FRIES
Twice-fried fries, bulgogi seitan, kimchi jam, mozzarella, bibimbap sauce, kewpie mayo, gochugaru, and furikake
Makes 2 servings
For the bibimbap sauce
2 tablespoons gochujang
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
1 garlic clove, grated
1 1/4 teaspoons sesame oil
For the seitan
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup cooked small red beans
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons red miso
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon MSG
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the marinade
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon black vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoon gochujang
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
For the kimchi jam
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup kimchi, diced
For the seitan bulgogi
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 marinated seitan steaks, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 poblano, sliced into thin strips
1 jalapeno, sliced into thin strips
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
For the fries & assembly
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled & cut into fries
2 quarts vegetable oil
8 ounces of mozzarella, shredded
Make the bibimbap sauce
Add all of the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Make the seitan
Add all of the seitan ingredients to a food processor except the vital wheat gluten and blend into a smooth sauce. Add the vital wheat gluten and blend until well mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed until everything is well mixed. There will be some dry spots but that’s ok.
(Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor you can first mash the cooked beans with a fork or potato masher, then add everything together in a large bowl and mix well.)
Turn the mixture out onto a clean work surface and begin to knead it together. It may be a bit crumbly at first, but keep kneading it for a few minutes until it comes together into a tight ball. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes on the counter covered with a clean towel.
After the dough has rested, knead it for 2-3 minutes. Then cut the ball into 4-5 ounce pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll out each section into 1/2″ thick steaks. The dough will be very tough and stretchy, but just keep working at it until you get your desired steak shapes.
Put the steaks in the steamer basket and cover them with a lid. It’s ok if they are overlapping a bit. Steam for 28 minutes, flipping the steaks halfway through so they steam evenly. They will double in size. Remove from steamer and let cool for 15 minutes.
Place the steaks in a large ziplock bag or air-tight container, mix the marinade ingredients and pour into the bag. Let marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking, or even better, overnight.
Make the kimchi jam
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, rice wine vinegar, gochujang, and soy sauce. Whisk to thoroughly combine and dissolve the sugar. Add the kimchi and toss to coat.
Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Add the kimchi and cook over high heat until the liquid is thickened and jammy and the kimchi is browned in spots. Transfer from the skillet to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Lightly clean the skillet (a little leftover kimchi jam is fine) to use for making the bulgogi.
Make the seitan bulgogi
Take the skillet you used for the kimchi jam, and heat over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add the peppers and onions and saute until just getting soft. Add the sliced seitan and cook until the seitan and vegetables are lightly charred. Remove from the heat and cover.
Make the fries
While the seitan bulgogi is cooking, add 2 quarts of vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and heat to 330°F. Line 2 wire racks with 2 layers of paper towels each.
Fry the potatoes in batches until a light tan color and the edges are just starting to brown. Transfer the fries to one prepared rack to drain.
When all of the potatoes have been fried once, increase the heat of the oil to 375°F. Fry the potatoes a second time until they are golden brown and crisp. Drain on a rack and sprinkle with salt.
Assemble Lord Of The Fries
Place 1/2 of the fries on a platter (or plate if you do not have a platter). Sprinkle 2 ounces of mozzarella on the fries. Top with about half of the seitan bulgogi, a couple of tablespoons of kimchi jam, and another 2 ounces of cheese. Sprinkle with furikake and gochugaru. Finish with generous drizzles of bibimbap sauce and kewpie mayo.
Repeat for the second serving.