Vegan Mofo #17 - Mark’s Baked Vegan Schnitzel
The Region - Germany
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Reinfeld
The Recipe - Baked Vegan Schnitzel
Page # 196
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - About 35-40 minutes
Yesterday I talked about one of my favorite desserts, apple strudel, and today we’ll stick with the German theme and talk about Schnitzel. Now even though Schnitzel is a huge part of German cuisine this is not a food I ever ate growing up. It simply didn’t appeal to me, but beyond my aversion to it I don’t recall anyone in my family ever cooking it. Maybe we’re just not schnitzel people or something, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I didn’t take my first bite of schnitzel until I was in my 20's. It was in a German restaurant in Chicago and it was so awful that I never had any interest in trying it again.
That is, until my husband and I actually went to Germany. Everywhere we went non-vegan schnitzels were available on restaurant menus. Seeing it offered virtually everywhere made me a little curious to try it again, this time veganized to see what all the fuss was about. Interestingly I did eventually find a vegetarian schnitzel being offered when we boarded a Rhein cruise in St Goar. This is perhaps not as strange as it may sound since Germany is typically very vegetarian friendly, though veganism is not as common. In the end we didn’t order the tofu schnitzel for 2 reasons. 1) we were not very hungry and 2) My German is not good enough for me to be confident of whether or not the schnitzel was vegan. I’ve been thinking about that potentially vegan schnitzel ever since, and knew I’d eventually have to try my hand at recreating it, then Mark Reinfeld’s book “Taste of Europe” came along and lo and behold he had a vegan schnitzel recipe! I knew it was meant to be, and that Mofo would be the perfect time to try it.
But, before we get to the recipe, some interesting facts about Schnitzel. Schnitzel in German means Escalopes, or cutlet. Traditionally, and originally it is made with Veal - unfortunately - this is actually the law in Austria, where Schnitzel is the national dish. To be called Schnitzel or Wiener Schnitzel in Austria the dish must be made of veal, otherwise the type of meat must be specified in the name such as - Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein. The first known use of the term Wiener Schnitzel comes from a Southern German cook book published in the 1800's. Though the dish was popularized in Vienna, but didn’t become widely popular until the end of the Second World War.
Interesting no? Well, since Mark’s schnitzel is vegan he uses thinly sliced tofu cutlets in place of the meat. He then marinates them in a mixture similar to his pistachio crusted tofu. Oil, liquid smoke and soy sauce. They are then baked for 15 or so minutes. After that they’re removed from the oven, slathered in a mix of tahini, soy sauce, and lemon similar to his pistachio mix, and then coated in a pretzel breading. He stipulates that you can also use cornflakes but I was more interested in the pretzel breading, I thought it would add a better flavor. Mixed with the crushed pretzels is paprika, salt, pepper, and spelt flour. Then you bake again till golden brown and serve with your choice of sides.
Traditionally speaking Schnitzel is always served with some kind of potato. Usually Potato salad but roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes, or mashed potatoes can also be used to accompany.
Surprisingly despite the simplicity of this recipe and the fact that I didn’t like Schnitzel to begin with I actually liked this method for preparing tofu. I don’t know that it tasted anything like schnitzel - certainly not the one I ate - but it was good. My only complaint is that it was a bit salty for my taste so next time I make this I’ll do so with unsalted pretzels and no added salt.
PS: More about the other stuff on the plate with the Schnitzel to come tonight or tomorrow, so Stay tuned!