Ahhh, seitan, how I love you so.
While I am lucky enough to live in a town with access to great locally made seitan – Ray’s Seitan is arguably the best commercially produced in the world – there’s a lot of fun in making your own.
Most of the time when I make up seitan, I use one of 2 methods:
- Mix vital wheat Gluten with liquid and seasonings; let it get kind of doughy; divide into pieces and boil for a while, or
- Mix vital wheat Gluten with liquid, seasonings, and some nut butter; rip into pieces and baste/bake. Brett covers that method here.
However, Vegan Brunch, the absolutely awesome vegan cookbook from Isa Chandra Moskowitz (and currently my favorite cookbook, period) introduces a somewhat new method of making seitan: mixing vital wheat gluten with beans, spices, and broth, forming sausage shapes, wrapping in foil and steaming. And good god, does this result in a ridiculously tasty treat.
The recipes in Vegan Brunch include: Cherry Sage Sausages, Chorizo Sausages, and Italian Feast Sausages. Since they are all rather delicious, I experimented one day with going for something that was more… chickeny, less sausagey. Note: Isa Chandra has given me permission to post this. This recipe seems to accomplish that goal pretty well, and results in an easily sliceable chunk of protein that works really well when fried in a beer batter.
Chicken-y Seitan Sausages
- 1/2 Cup cooked chick peas (garbanzos)
- 1 Cup of vegan chicken broth. I use Carmel Brand Kosher Chicken Style Soup Mix (which has MSG and Partially-Hydrogenated Oil in it… feel free to use something healthier)
- 2 Tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (Recently got the tip on using a good amount of quality extra virgin olive oil as a fat source in vegan food from an excellent Philly gastropub chef who makes pretty much the best vegan sandwich at a bar in the entire world.)
- 2 Tablespons of Tamari or Soy Sauce (I only keep the former in my fridge)
- 2 or more cloves of garlic, minced really fine
- 1.25 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
- 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme (or dried if that’s all you have.. we have oodles of thyme that were grown in our 8 foot windowbox this summer.)
In a large bowl, mash the hell out of the chick peas. I recently bought a pressure cooker, and tend to overcook them a tad, making them soft and easily mashable. I like to use a potato masher in this step. Said potato masher is also pretty handy for making tofu scramble. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl in the order listed and mix with a fork. Divide the resultant doughy mass into 4 pieces; mold into a long log. Wrap your log in tinfoil (like a tootsie roll.) Shape doesn’t matter too much at this point – as it cooks it will firm up and take the right shape. Steam your wrapped logs for 40 minutes. Done! I find that refrigerating at this point helps to firm it up a tad more, but I pretty much always want to devour these bad larrys right away.
Slicing and Beer Battering
After unwrapping this glutenous gift, I like to slice them into thin – maybe quarter or half-inch – medallions, and beer batter them. Luckily, Vegan Brunch has an awesome, yet simple beer batter recipe.
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 Cup cold beer
- 1/2 Cup cold water
Vegan Brunch calls for “dark” beer. I, on the other hand, find that a nice hoppy beer accenuates the spices in this seitan pretty nicely. I still have a hoppy, firmly-bitter American Amber that I brewed this fall on tap which I like to use in this situation. I’ve also used Czech and German Pilsners for this purpose in the past, with great results. I’ve experimented with grinding up whole leaf hops (Summit) and adding a small amount to the batter, with disappointing results – it was too overwhelming, even for a hophead like myself.
Anyhow, in a large mixing bowl, use a fork to combine the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the beer and water. Mix well. Thoroughly coat your medallions of seitan in this batter and pan fry in whatever you feel comfortable pan frying with. I use a cast iron skillet and a good amount of vegetable oil here. Fry until golden on each side. Place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt while still hot.
I made these as an impromptu appetizer on Thanksgiving and my omnivorous family thought they were pretty awesome. My dad was pretty much floored by their awesomeness.
Note: Just switched the recipe from 1.5 cups VWG to 1.25, which works better. Refrigerating prior to usage will firm it up a bit.