“Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not”
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I have nothing against the idea of the “supergroup.” After all, the idea of assembling talented musicians, all famous in their own right, to create new music seems like a complete win-win. Sadly, save for the very rare exceptions, these groups end up producing some weird musical mess that can make you question why you even liked these musicians in the first place. The Power Station is a brilliant example of the sum being far less than its parts. It’s the mid-80s and Duran Duran is crushing the world with pop domination. Robert Palmer is making models-as-backup-band a thing and addicting us to love. Somehow, someway, Duran’s John and Andy Taylor would hook up with legendary Chic bassist Tony Thompson and have Chic’s Bernard Edwards produce a demo of T-Rex’s “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” for ’80s model and scenester Bebe Buell. This somehow led to the idea of a revolving “supergroup” concept with different vocalists. The first to be brought in was Robert Palmer to record a track that I hate so much I won’t mention it here. That led to recording a full album and signing to Capitol. Basically, the theme song here and Palmer’s take on the failed Buell cover are the only tolerable tracks on the album. Thankfully, this was their only release and all involved went back to making music with actually great bands.
Since switching to basically plant-based cooking, my mission has been to create vegetarian versions of my fave comfort and bar foods. I’m a big fried chicken fan and an even bigger fan of spicy fried chicken. So when it came time to make my take on Nashville Hot Chicken, I immediately went for my go-to chicken substitute: chickwheat (chickpea-based seitan). As I have become obsessed with Korean cooking and flavors, I decided this would be South Korea meets Southern Comfort. I went with the method for frying Korean-style fried chicken. Then, I replaced the usual cayenne in the hot dipping oil with a ton of gochugaru. Finally, it’s finished off with a generous spread of Duke’s mayo (my Southern fave) and a few homemade bread & butter pickles.
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Gochugaru Hot Chickwheat, bread & butter pickles, and mayo on a potato roll
Makes 4 sandwiches
Four chickwheat cutlets (follow the link for the recipe)
Bread & butter pickles (or your fave pickles)
Duke’s mayo (or your favorite mayo)
1/3 cup rice flour
2 tablespoons gochugaru
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons MSG or kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon MSG or kosher salt
2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup chilled beer, seltzer, or club soda
2 quarts of vegetable oil for frying
For chili oil
1/4 – 1/3 cup gochugaru
2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon MSG
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups of hot oil from frying
Fry the chickwheat
Start by making the base for your hot oil by adding the gochugaru, smoked paprika, brown sugar, and MSG in a medium heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
In a wok or deep pan, bring the frying oil up to 375°F.
Assemble your dredging station with two bowls. Mix the dry dredge (rice flour, gochugaru, smoked paprika, MSG or salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger, and cumin) in one bowl. In the other bowl, make a batter with the all-purpose flour, baking powder, MSG or salt, hot sauce, rice wine vinegar, and beer or seltzer. Whisk the batter gently and just enough to combine. Do not overmix – a few lumps are OK.
Place a cooling rack in a sheet pan. Working with 2 pieces of chickwheat at a time, dredge in the rice flour mix, pressing all sides of the chickwheat into the rice flour. (The chickwheat should be completely coated with flour.) Dip in the batter, allowing excess to drip off. Return to the rice flour mix and coat again. Place the coated chickwheat gently in the oil. Fry undisturbed until batter sets, about 2 minutes. Continue to fry, turning gently, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from the oil and place on the cooling rack. Repeat frying the rest of the chickwheat.
When all pieces are fried once, bring the oil temperature up to 375°F. Refry all of the pieces for about 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally. Do not over-fry. You want extra crispy & golden brown but not burnt. Transfer to the cooling rack, and season with salt.
Take the bowl with the chili oil base and add 1 1/2 cups of the hot oil from frying. Be careful. It will bubble up. Carefully mix together to dissolve the sugar and blend the spices.
Assemble the sandwich
Spread kewpie mayo on the inside of a potato roll. Take a piece of chickwheat and carefully dip it into the chili oil to coat. Place the chickwheat on the roll and top with pickles and the top bun Add a few dashes of hot sauce if you live dangerously.