Steamed red seitan, part 2

Posted: May 13, 2011 in vegan recipes
Tags: ,

I’d initially joked that I’m not Boulder granola enough to MAKE seitan from scratch.  Don’t ask me why I tried it, anyway, but I’m glad I did.  Store-bought seitan is both expensive, and tasty.  I’ve cooked with it rarely, just because I don’t know how. I’ve been eating the meat substitute tofu for ages, predominantly in Asian food.  It’s tofu.  It’s okay.  I’ve been slow to the other meat substitutes, tempeh and seitan.  I don’t think of it.  When meat has ceased to be your meal’s centerpiece, you don’t require a substitute.  Veggies (or, okay, starches) are the hubs of my meals.

The few times I’ve tried it, the seitan’s been a big hit with both me and Mark.  We’ve gone decades without having a meat-ish texture, but we both grew up with it.  Neither one of us has any interest in going to eat meat ever, but the seitan is a nice echo to food we grew up with.  It’s chewy.  A vegetarian eats few ‘chewy’ things.  Nice thing about seitan is it’s chewy, and no creatures are hurt but some wheat plants, who were probably up to no good, anyway.

Turns out, seitan is stupidly easy to make, and kind of fun.  Mark Bittman (my culinary Yoda) does have instructions, and I will try his, too.  But I used Terry Hope Romero’s seitan recipe, which is a little different.  Loved it.  Wasn’t sure I’d be able to use four loaves of seitan within two weeks, and now I know I will.  Cooking this entire meal was done over a series of two busy days by cooking a half hour here, half hour there, when I had time.  Worked out great.

Steamed Red Seitan  source:  T. H. Romero, Viva Vegan!

vegan, +++++gluten

  • 1 1/2 c cold veggie broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or microplane’d (I don’t have a microplane, and I forgot this entirely)
  • 3 tbsp mild soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/4 c chickpea flour
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

In a measuring cup, whisk togetherthe broth, garlic, soy, tomato paste, and olive oil.  In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients.  Pour the liquid into a well in the center and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes to develop the gluten.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, knead again for 30 seconds.  Place dough on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut dough into four equal pieces, lightly kneading each.  Shape into loaves.

Tear off four 12 inch square sheets of aluminum foil.  Place each piece of dough in the center, and fold the short sides over ends, then long sides.  Foil should be secure, but leaving some loose space to allow dough to expand.  Place wrapped dough into a steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes.  Allow dough to cool to touch before chilling in fridge for hour or overnight.

Store in fridge, tightly sealed in plastic bag or container, for up to 2 weeks.  Seitan can also be frozen then thawed in the fridge for later.

I was lucky enough to live three miles from an Indian grocery at my apartment, at a time I was into trying to make flatbreads.  So I have chickpea flour (besan).  Vital wheat gluten is available in my generic grocery store’s Boulder Hippie section (which I frequent anyway), and a Vitamin Cottage grocery four miles north of my workplace had nutritional yeast.  The good news is that with all this stuff, I have enough for seitan all summer if I want.

Nutritional yeast is a vegan source of B12, because even vegans eat microbes.  I have dairy in my diet, but any source of B12 is also a source of fat for me.  This is certainly an easy way for me to eat this vitamin, which I probably lack. 

Cost isn’t easy to calculate after the fact…..but I know that a small box of pre-cut and packaged seitan is almost 4 bucks.  (I bought a box in case my homemade seitan flopped.)  I spent about 4 bucks on about 4 cups of gluten and maybe 3 cups yeast.  Chickpea flour at the Indian grocer is five bucks for over 8 cups.  This recipe makes four times as much as a single seitan box.  And my seitan tastes better.  Two loaves of seitan, half this recipe, will feed three people roughly three meals each.  Holy cow, that’s cheap.

The recipe looks long, as do the directions, but this was really easy and fun.  Romero also has a white seitan recipe, which omits the tomato paste (exists for color and a little flavor), and the spices are different.  I’m sure I will try it, too.  (Maybe something Cajun….?)  She suggests using this for dishes that are traditionally beef-based.  Of course, Romero’s cookbook is about making Latin cuisine, which is meat-heavy, and traditional dishes look more convincing with either pork or beef or whatever.  Mark, Jane and I are all vegetarian and we don’t care about our meals looking like they have meat in them.  Seitan is tasty, and I like the flavor of tomato in this.  I will definitely be experimenting with how to cook this further.

I guess I sorta missed ‘chewy’.  I didn’t realize.


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