I’d heard of Seitan, or mock meat, long before I decided to eat more vegan food. It sounded a strange food stuff to me and I was a little wary of it – probably partly because of its odd name (Japanese in origin apparently and not to do with the devil!) but also because I’ve never been too keen on the idea of meat replacements. In trying to find out how to get a lot of protein whilst eating vegan though I found that seitan is 75%+ protein and so I decided to give it a go…and I am pretty impressed!
Seitan is predominantly made from wheat gluten and water with the rest of the ingredients adding flavour. It starts out like a simple dough – mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and knead into a joint of mock meat. You then boil or steam it in a flavoursome stock and let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using it in a recipe as if it were meat. The texture is really ‘meaty’ – it actually gives you something to chew on – and it looks like meat too…not that I am looking for something just like meat, but it does help in some recipes and for some friends too!
There are a number of published recipes on how to make variations of seitan and I have been using what is called ‘seitanfu’ – the addition of silken tofu creates a lighter, less dense version…and adds extra protein too.
Seitanfu (Taken from Marie Laforet’s, ‘Vegan Bible’)
Makes about 1.2kg
350g Wheat Gluten
1 tbsp Malted yeast (or nutritional yeast extract)
1tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
240g silken tofu
200ml warm water
5 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp white miso (I have used a dark miso though)
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 litres water
2 tbsp vegetable stock paste (or powder)
2 tbsp barley miso
2 tbsp tamari
1) Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2) Combine all the liquid ingredients in another bowl and pour them over the dry ingredients.
3) Mix in and knead with your hands to make a large ball of dough (the longer you knead the firmer the dough becomes).
4) Cut into slices and cook in the stock for 30 minutes over a high heat.
5) Drain and put in a container.
6) Cover with stock and leave to cool, then refrigerate for 24 hours before cooking it in a recipe of your choice.
From here you could slice it thinly and add to a stir fry. You could add it to stews or soups or simply griddle it with some seasoning like a steak.
Here are a couple of ideas I have tried recently:
Coconut Crusted Seitan with Mango and Avocado salsa (Adapted from Ripe Cuisine)
These coconutty morsels are really moorish and delicious with the salsa, chipotle drizzle, crunchy salad and rice. It makes a lot as well – for this recipe I only used half the ‘joint’ of seitanfu.
Coconut crusted seitan
For the marinade
½ joint of seitanfu (as above)
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon egg replacement such as Ener-G
Pinch of salt
For the dredge:
4 cups coconut flakes or 2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup plain flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4-5 cups refined coconut oil or other oil (e.g sunflower, vegetable)
For the chipotle sauce
2 tbsp thick Chipotle sauce or chutney
1 tbsp runny honey
1) Cut seitanfu into “nuggets”. In a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine coconut milk, egg replacer, and salt. Let nuggets marinate in coconut milk mixture.
2) If using large coconut flakes, first process with food processor into smaller ground flakes. Mix coconut flakes with flour, panko bread crumbs, salt and paprika.
3) Heat oil in a wok or small sauce pan (you can fit more into a wok). Shaking off excess marinade, dip seitan nuggets into coconut flour mixture to coat well. Once oil is hot enough, fry nuggets until golden brown, turning several times to evenly fry as needed.
4) Drain fried seitan on a cookie tray over a sheet try so that excess oil can drip off and keep nugget crunchy. Sprinkle with salt.
5) Mix the chipotle sauce with the honey and drizzle over the top of the coconut crusted nuggets
Mango and Avocado salsa
Makes about 2 cups
1 small mango, small dice
1/4 cup red onion, small dice
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/2 whole avocado, about 1/3 cup small dice
½ tsp chilli flakes or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1) Mix together in a bowl
Middle Eastern Seitan and Aubergine stew
Serves 4 hungry people
½ joint seitanfu in 1 inch cubes (as above)
1 large onion diced
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 dried red chillies
1 large aubergine cut into large chunks
½ cup yellow split peas
2-3 tsp Baharat spice mix (or see below for Baharat recipe)
4-5 cups of water
Handful of fresh coriander
Baharat spice mix (Yottam Ottolenghi / Sammi Tamimi’s recipe from their book, ‘Jerusalem’)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 small cinnamon stick roughly chopped
½ tsp whole cloves
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cardamom pods
½ whole nutmeg grated
1) Fry the onion in the coconut oil until it is starting to brown and add the garlic a few minutes after the onion
2) Add the dried chillies, yellow split peas, baharat or spice mix and pour in the water
3) Cover with a lid and cook for at least an hour – until the yellow spilt peas are soft (this is a lot faster if using a pressure cooker or if you soak the yellow split peas overnight prior to cooking).
4) Add the seitanfu cubes and heat through in the stew for about 15 minutes. Add more water as needed.
5) Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and drizzle with pomegranate molasses
Serve with rice and a bread of your choice – important for mopping up!
If you have any tips on using seitan or other vegan protein ideas we’d love to hear them.