“This is the latest,” said Crake.
What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing.
“What the hell is it?” said Jimmy.
“Those are chickens,” said Crake. “Chicken parts. Just the breasts, on this one. They’ve got ones that specialize in drumsticks too, twelve to a growth unit.
“But there aren’t any heads…”
“That’s the head in the middle,” said the woman. “There’s a mouth opening at the top, they dump nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don’t need those.”
-From Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwoood
Oryx and Crake includes some truly terrifying dystopian sci-fi stuff… but the part of it that always creeped me out the most was the genetically modified foods. Actually thats a lie. The thing that creeped me out the most was the social acceptability and easy access to child pornography. Also the part where almost everybody in the world is eradicated by a pandemic. So I guess the food is a third. But that is still pretty high up on the creepy scale.
As it happens, I am friends with a number of vegetarians and vegans, as well as people with gluten intolerance, people with diabetes, and people with crohns disease. Therefore, one of my favourite games to play is “how do I make _____ (amazing food) something _____ (amazing friend with food issues) can eat”. This particularly grotesque image of an artificial chicken inspired me to make something delicious, if slightly weird and unnatural-seeming. As it happens, ChickieNobs have yet to be invented, and I am in no hurry to see them become a reality. Because of the creepy, and also the fact that shortly afterwards everybody dies from a mysterious plague. Soooooo I had to come up with something ELSE that was sufficiently weird and delicious. The result? VEGATARIAN MUTHAFUCKIN CHICKEN WINGS.
This recipe is made from seitan, which is the same meat substitute you often find in Chinese food. It is NOT made out of tofu, because that would be way too straight forward. It is essentially wheat, with everything except the gluten taken out (so this is not a recipe for my gluten intolerant friends). You can buy this stuff at most grocery stores, in the same place weird not-gluteny flours are sold. It is called “Vital Wheat Gluten” and it goes a pretty long way when you are using it to make seitan.
The other part of this is buffalo sauce, which is the best chicken-wing sauce available hands down. Also I hope I haven’t tapped out your creepy threshold, because I am about to tell you a creepy secret that is creepy.
Buffalo sauce = equal parts butter and Franks Red Hot.
I shit you not, that is actually all that is in it.
This gets complicated for vegans adapting this recipe, because I have yet to discover a vegan margarine that is unsalted… and the easiest way to fuck this recipe up is to accidentally make it too salty. One thing I tried, with pretty good results, was to replace the vegetarian chicken stock with home-made vegetable stock made out of savoury herbs and veggies, and absolutely no salt (to off-set the saltiness of the sauce), and than use Earth Balance brand vegan margarine instead of unsalted butter. I still like the lacto-ovo vegetarian version of this recipe better, so if anybody encounters a vegan unsalted butter substitute PLEASE let me know about it!
Okay so here we go with the recipe finally.
What You Need!
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- ¾ cup whatever your favourite veggie chicken-flavoured broth is, for mixing
- Some slices of onion
- 6 cups of whatever your favourite veggie chicken-flavoured broth is, for COOKING.
- Some flour ( about like… 1/3 cup? I dunno … enough to cover the ChickieNobs before frying)
- Some vegitable oil (again I dunno… enough to deep fry the ChickieNobs)
- 1 ½ cup unsalted butter
- 12 fluid ounces (approx one bottle) of hot sauce. Franks Red Hot is the traditional choice for traditional Buffalo Sauce…however Chicken is the traditional choice for Chicken Wings… so I guess you can use something different if you want to.
To Make the ChickieNobs!
Mix the wheat gluten and the ¾ cup of broth together. You can use a fork or something at first, but you will eventually have to knead it with your hands. It will be the consistency of rubber when its thoroughly mixed (yum!)
Break off small chunks and flatten as much as possible (about 1/3 inches thick is good). I saw a recipe on the internet that called these chunks “cutlets”… which for some reason I find awkward.
Bear in mind that they will grow twice as big after they have been cooked.
Heat up the broth in a large pot, until it is boiling. Add onion. Add the flattened gluten chunks to the broth and cook for about an hour. They will expand and solidify. When they are finished remove from heat. If you do not plan to use all the seitan for ChickieNobs (it also is excellent in stir fries) than store it in the broth in your fridge.
After the seitan has cooled, remove some from broth, pat dry, and cut it into approximately chicken-wing sized bits. Dust the bits with flour, and deep fry until they are crispy on the outside.
While you are frying the ChickieNobs, melt butter in a small saucepan. Slowly add hot sauce to the melted butter, and whisk together. Remove from heat. This is buffalo sauce.
When the ChickieNobs are finished frying, toss them in buffalo sauce and serve!