Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Let's start with seitan

Okay, this is the first post for RVK. Welcome. I made this blog because I think that too often vegan food blogs more concerned with either making healthy food or making stuff that conspicuously uses exotic ingredients. Why can’t vegans just have simple food that tastes good without concern for making sure it’s made of stuff you can’t pronounce and has so much fiber that you might as well throw it in the toilet and cut out the middleman?

Well, I guess I will jump right in with a recipe, and seitan seems like the best place to start, since it can be used to make so many hearty things like barbecue sandwiches, tacos, “beef” stew, and plenty of other cool dishes. Lots of people are intimidated by the thought of making seitan, and I can understand as there are several steps to the process, and hence more chances to screw up. But if you get the process down it’s actually pretty easy.

This is my own recipe. I have been making seitan for the better part of a decade, and while I found a lot of good recipes (such as from the Veganomicon), I have always thought I could improve it. So over the years I have modified existing recipes and proportions and basically experimented. So this recipe is the culmination of years of fiddling around, and one grand accident, where I found the secret ingredient. I ran out of olive oil when making seitan one day, and was too lazy to run to the store. But what I did have was some toasted sesame oil. So I tried it, and the seitan was phenomenal. You come across some of the best discoveries by accident, and this is perhaps the best culinary accident I have ever made. Anyway, the recipe…

Here's what you need and the amounts*:

Dry ingredients
  • 2.25 cups of vital wheat gluten flour
  • 7 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 4 tablespoons of garlic powder
Wet ingredients
  • 1 cub of broth
  • 0.5 cups soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
*This makes a pretty large batch of seitan. If you want to make a smaller batch just use half of everything.

You want to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients together, separately. Then, in a large mixing bowl, add the wet to the dry. Some people suggest using a spoon for this, but I just use my hands.

You are going to want to kneed this for several minutes until the dough is nice and elastic. Then I roll in into a log shaped form several inches thick and slice pieces about half to three-quarters inches each.

Then you put them into a stock pot with 10 cups of cool broth. You can add some soy sauce the broth if you like. It doesn't have to be cold -- room temperature is fine -- but it can't be warm. The turn the heat on high and bring it up to a boil. After it's boiling, put the heat on medium low (high enough to where it still simmers) and cover for an hour.

After it’s simmered for an hour, drain the seitan through a strain and then you let it cool. When it's cooled off then you will need to squeeze the excess broth out. It will be pretty watery if you don't do this.

This recipe makes the best seitan I have ever had. My omnivorous mother told me it actually tastes like meat. I plan to put a lot of recipes on here that use seitan, so I will probably refer back to this recipe quite a bit. Enjoy!


  1. I am going to gorge myself on this very soon. Thank you!!

  2. Ah... this does not seem to be nearly as complicated as I previously thought.


    Flour: Where do I get "Vital Wheat Gluten Flour"? Is that the name of the kind of flour or the brand? Basically... what words do I look for on the package or bulk bin label?

    Broth: What kind exactly do you use?

    Squeezing: Do you do this by hand and literally just squeeze each piece in your palms?

  3. @reference girl

    No, it's not that complicated. It will probably seem like you are walking a tightrope without a safety net the first time you do it though; just trudge on through with reckless abandon for life and fuckupage.

    Yes, vital wheat gluten is what you want. I get mine from the bulk section of Whole Foods. It's a little pricey, but much cheaper than if you try to buy it from the hippie section of a place like Shnuck's or Dierberg's. And it's pretty dense stuff -- you can do a lot with a little.

    Broth: I use this stuff call Better than Bullion. It's basically a paste that you make into broth by mixing it with water. I typically get the regular vegetable kind, but Whole Foods has a faux chicken base that's really good.

    Squeezing: yeah, use your hands. Nothing fancy here.

    Good luck!

  4. Yay, I am making this for my Celiac Support Group!

  5. I hope you know a good defense attorney...

  6. Simply the best! Especially good grilled with steak sauce. Any recommendations on grilling it?

  7. I just brush it with steak sauce before grilling it. I don't marinate it as it's a little spongy for that.