I think most vegans and vegetarians pretty much universally like seitan. I find some, however, to be surprised when you tell them how easy it is to make. Seitan can be both cheap and easy to craft in your own kitchen!
I have fond memories of the “Singing Cowboy” from Veggie Works in Belmar, NJ. The centerpiece of that dish were large, thin slabs of perfectly breaded and fried seitan. Friday night I came home from work and was in the mood to make something similar; here’s the process I took to pull that off.
A few upfront notes:
- This method of baking, not boiling, and using a nut butter for a fat source that also helps make these cutlets easily moldable, was inspired & heavily influenced by Susan’s Barbecued Seitan Ribz over at FatFree Vegan Kitchen.
- I like using Corn Flake Crumbs for the coating. I first tried these, I think, at Foodswings in Brooklyn several years ago.
- I often use Trader Joe’s concentrated vegetable broth – they come in little foil packets and are easy to drop into water, because I am pretty lazy. The same product, non-TJ-labeled, can be found on Amazon.com here.
- 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350.
Step 1: Combine the vital wheat gluten flour and the nutritional yeast
Step 2: Mix the broth, olive oil, and tahini. You could substitute another nut butter if you don’t have tahini.
Step 3: Mix the brothy mixture into the flour mixture. Knead it a little bit with your hands briefly (around 30 seconds.)
Step 4: Spray a glass dish with cooking spray. Rip off chunks from the doughy mixture and flatten them out with your hands in the dish to the size and shape that you want. These aren’t going to shrink or expand much when cooking. The pieces should be pretty easy to work with, and consistency-wise should feel more like something between paste and putty. They will be somewhat fragile, but the baking will help firm this up. Assuming your oven is up to temperature already, slide this in to begin baking.
Step 5: After around 10 minutes, take them out to check on them. You want to be able to slide a spatula cleanly under them without the pieces sticking. This might take closer to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Flip the pieces over with a spatula. The pieces should be glistening – not dry. If they look dry, add a little bit of broth (or some water with tamari or soy sauce.)
Step 6: After about 10 minutes, they should be ready. At this time you could sprinkle some seasonings on if you want. I find thyme works well here.
At this point, you could use them however you’d like – slice into strips for stir-fries, pile onto bread for a nice sandwich, or batter and fry them. That’s what I’m going to do here.
Step 7: To batter these, I use a simple process:
- Dip into a bowl of plain flour
- Dip into a bowl of water
- Transfer into bowl of bread crumbs, coating evenly
Step 8: Fry them. I won’t go into details here; I usually fill a stockpot with some vegetable oil and just drop the pieces in, flipping them when they get golden-brown.
Typically I’ll consume these with stuffing, or mashed potatoes and gravy. Friday night I was hungry, so I just ate them as is on a plate, with a light sprinkling of truffle salt on top.