Along with veganism comes certain privileges, including, but not limited to:
- Knowing how much protein one really needs daily (~1 gram per kilogram, or ~1.5-1.8 if you’re stressed, pregnant, or doing some crazy training)
- Easy excitability about kale
- …which is chockfull of calcium, which can’t be metabolised without adequate amounts of vitamin D, in which most Americans are deficient. Coppertone doesn’t want anyone to realise this, though.
- Knowing the cooking properties of tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
- …and knowing how to pronounce ‘seitan.’
Seitan (‘say-tan,’ or, for those of us with a more Hub-of-the-Universe accent, ‘say-tahn,’ in which the second vowel is the same as ‘aunt,’ which is always ‘ahnt’ and never ‘ant’ /linguistics digression) has a long history of use in East Asia, specifically China.
What it is:
- High in protein
- Chewy and dense
- Easily flavoured by stocks, broths, or bouillon
What it isn’t:
- Highly processed vegan fake ‘meat’
I can’t tell you how annoyed I get while talking about various Field Roast products or vegan buffalo wings when someone chimes in about vegan meats being ‘processed.’ Sure, grain is processed when it’s ground in a mill, and rinsing the starch out of a mix of flour and water is another form of processing, but I guarantee you that it’s less processed than most meat on conventional supermarket shelves.
But getting back to basics, you really can’t call yourself an awesome hardcore vegan until you’ve made seitan. I used to buy it at Whole Foods for use in stir-fries or other meals, but once I made it for homemade Buffalo wings (shameless plug after shameless plug…), I never looked back.
It’s so easy. Stupidly easy.
It does take some down time (simmering), and a tiny bit of lovin’, but if you can make pizza dough (or any other bread dough, for that matter), then you can make seitan.
I guess, technically, this isn’t even the super-hardcore version, since I buy my vital wheat gluten (it looks like flour). There’s a recipe somewhere for how to make seitan by washing your own dough, but that’s another story for another time.
For now, if you’ve got even a reasonably well stocked vegan kitchen, then you have everything that you need to make really flavourful seitan. Once it’s made, you can create kickass chicken soups, delicious barbecue chicken sandwiches, and Buffalo wings.
(If you haven’t already guessed, it substitutes best for chicken, and Ryan says that it’s eerily similar to chicken nuggets, probably because most industrial ground meat production is bulked up with vital wheat gluten to cheat the customer. We’ve found that for chicken flavoured pieces, Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon tastes freakishly like chicken broth (not that I remember what chicken broth tastes like, but still). Traditionally, seitan was simmered in a broth of kombu, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Really, you can bathe it in whatever strikes your fancy—it takes on flavour really well.)
Finally, unless you’re throwing your homemade seitan into soup, you’re going to want to give it a little pan-fry before using it in sandwiches or the like. Or, ahem, if you’re making vegan buffalo wings, then just bread, fry, coat, and eat!
Okay, I’ll stop, but only if you promise to make seitan. Deal?
Note: Did I mention that seitan is kind of…weird? So weird that I kind of giggle uncontrollably for the first few minutes of making it. Anyway, considered yourself warned.
By November 15, 2011Published:
- Yield: 1 Pound
- Prep: 5 mins
- Cook: 45 mins
- Ready In: 50 mins
If you can make pizza dough (or any other bread dough, for that matter), then you can make seitan.
- 5 oz vital wheat gluten (142 g, ~1 1/3 c, half a package Arrowhead Mills)
- 30 g garfava (garbanzo-fava) flour substitute garbanzo (chickpea) flour (1/4 c)
- 20 g nutch (1/4 c)
- 2 t onion powder
- 2 t garlic powder
- 1-2 t dried herbs optional
- 1 c water
- ~3 c (homemade) vegetable or chicken-flavoured broth for simmering
- In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir briefly to mix. If you elect to add herbs or spices to your seitan, then now's the time.
- Add in the water and stir to combine. (Remember when you used to make everyday dishes into 'eyeballs' and 'intestines' for Halloween? Yeah, get into seitan brains to take the blue ribbon in that contest.)
- Knead the dough for 5-8 minutes. I usually start above the bowl and then move to a counter. The seitan will be too wet to stick, so don't worry about flouring your surface. It should feel like a very wet sponge. The more you knead it, the more dense it will become and the less it will puff up while simmering. I like my seitan denser and chewier, but even after kneading for what felt like a very long time, it still only got to chicken nugget consistency for a final product.
- When done kneading, roll/shape the seitan into a long log.
- Let the seitan hang out for a few minutes while you bring your broth to a gentle simmer in a medium pot.
- Once the seitan has mellowed, slice it into strips. Slice a little thinner than you want the end result pieces, since they'll puff up while simmering.
- Slide the pieces into the broth one by one, trying your best to keep them from sticking. The broth should just cover the seitan pieces. If it doesn't, then add a little more water until it does.
- Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Once it's done, either use it immediately in something or transfer both the seitan and the broth to a container, let cool, and refrigerate.
- If using immediately, it's best to give it a quick pan-fry in a little oil. This will brown the seitan, wrap it in an outside layer of crispy deliciousness, and give it a little extra flavour.
- And there you are! Now, go out and conquer the world of seitan! May I suggest starting with vegan buffalo wings?
From there, you can move on to a host of Thanksgiving preparations…
- Cuisine: Chinese