Steamed white seitan….and some rambling about meat substitutes

Posted: November 1, 2011 in vegan recipes

Previously, I’d posted a recipe for “red” seitan, and used it in at least two different recipes.  The difference between those two recipes is the spices and the former’s inclusion of tomato paste.  Romero says that this recipe is denser than the red seitan (which makes sense, considering the tomato paste.)  Seitan is regarded as a “meat substitute”, and it is wheat protein and completely toxic to those who have gluten allergies.

As a longtime veggie, I don’t miss meat.  It doesn’t bother me in the least that other people eat it.  But I regard meat as a non-food object.  Sort of like wooden planks, or car tires.  Other people eat planks of wood and it’s a very common thing; I simply don’t choose to eat planks of wood.  But I can appreciate that one can make a plank of wood into a very tasty thing.

My food assemblage doesn’t often use the three most common meat substitutes:  tofu, tempeh or seitan.   Of the three, we use tempeh most.   It’s flexible, and has a pleasant, nutty flavor.  Tofu takes more work to make edible, and has no flavor at all.  You can use it for a smoothie, but if doing a smoothie, why not use almond or soy milk?  If you are making a sauce for a <insert protein here>, you can just as easily put that sauce over a denser veggie, like broccoli or cauliflower.  Or a veggie loaf/patty, with the bonus of having a grain.  Seitan is such a clear meat-like substitute, I don’t have as much use for it because I don’t even think of food being the usual Alpha-Protein-Starch-Plus-Mushy-Veggie way.

In her cookbook, Romero writes that she uses her ‘red seitan’ recipe in place of beef-heavy Latin dishes.  She uses this ‘white seitan’ for the chicken/pork-heavy Latin dishes.  Most of her cookbook, as any good vegan cookbook, is centered on the vegetables and beans and rices (all ample in Latin cooking.)

But chicken mole is chicken mole.  I could not even taste the mole sauce Anne Marie offered me in Mexico City, because it was made with chicken broth, and chicken broth makes me physically sick now.  (Romero HAS a mole recipe in her book, and I *will* be making it sometime.)  (That is why I bought her book.)

Something else I used to love was chicken satay.  And chicken satay is chicken satay.  You cannot DO tofu satay, and I’m not sure tempeh satay would cut it.  So I’m making this white seitan to go with the peanut sauce I just finished, to make seitan satay with coconut rice.  (See?  I had a plan.)  I will follow this with those recipes, and if you eat meat, just use chicken instead of my white seitan.

By the way, making seitan is dirt cheap once you make the run to Vitamin Cottage grocery and pick up the nutritional yeast, and get your besan flour at the Indian restaurant you went to when you got the stuff for the peanut sauce recipe I just made.  A small box of sliced pre-made seitan will set you back five bucks.

Compare the store-bought seitan on the left (which I had and will use so it doesn’t go to waste), with my four loaves on the right.  Homemade really is a lot better.

vegan, gluten +++

Makes 4 seitan loaves, takes less than 45 minutes, 30 minutes of which you can watch old trashy vampire movies and blog.

source:  Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

  • 1 1/2 c cold veggie broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated/minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/4 c chickpea/garbanzo/besan flour
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

In a measuring cup, whisk together the broth, garlic and olive oil.  In a lg bowl, combine the wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, thyme, paprika, cumin and salt.  Form a well in the center.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the well and stir until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Knead dough for 2 – 3 minutes to develop the gluten.  (And yes, I timed it.)  Let rest for 10 minutes (also timed), then knead again for 30 seconds (not timed).  Place the dough on a cutting board and cut into four equal pieces.

Tear off four 12-inch square sheets of aluminum foil.  Place the dough in the center of each foil piece.  Romero gives instructions for how to fold the foil up, but I discovered it isn’t much important.  Fold it up very loosely like a burrito.  The dough will rise, so leave space.  Place the foil packets in a steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes.  Let dough cool before chilling in fridge for an hour or overnight.

I discovered with the red seitan recipe that seitan not only keeps well for a few weeks (like two or three) in the fridge, and a lot longer in the freezer.  When you want to use the seitan and it’s frozen, take it out of the freezer the night before or at the latest, morning of, and stick it in the fridge.


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