Season Inside and Out
As with any meat you would prepare, seitan needs to be seasoned. One of the advantages of making your own is that you can season it from the inside as well as outside. If I want my seitan to have a “beefy” flavor, I add tomato paste to the dough. Sometimes I also add vegan Worcestershire sauce for that deep meaty flavor.
Then I choose herbs and spices associated with beef such as cumin, coriander, oregano and paprika. Vegan “beefy” broth can also be used instead of vegetable broth to further boost the “beefy” flavor. On the other hand, if I want my seitan to be more like chicken, pork or just more neutral, I will use vegan “chicken” flavored broth and herbs such as thyme and sage.
After the seitan is made, it gets more seasoning depending on how I am going to prepare it. You don’t want to eat seitan without cooking it somehow. At the very least, saute the seitan in some oil to give it a nice crust and added flavor. Chunks of seitan for a stew will get browned in seasoned flour before adding any liquids.
Sliced seitan gets seasoned with garlic powder, celery salt, black pepper and cayenne when I am making a French Dip sandwich. Seitan ribs and steaks are flavored with spice rubs and/or marinades quite like meat would. Food is all about texture and flavor, so be generous when it comes to seasoning your seitan. You might even choose to flavor your seitan with whiskey and pineapple to make Pineapple Jack BBQ Sandwiches.
What You Knead to Know
Seitan is a dough, and like most dough, it needs to be kneaded. Kneading helps develop the gluten and brings elasticity and stretch into the dough. The longer you knead the dough, the more gluten you develop leading to a chewier seitan. If you want a less chewy and more tender seitan, knead it for a shorter period of time. Most recipes require kneading the dough for an average of 3 minutes, followed by a 10-minute rest period and then a bit more kneading. As you knead the seitan, you will feel it change from a wet, sticky mixture to firmer dough; that is the gluten developing. You will be able to stretch the dough and watch it snap back into place; that is the elasticity.
My favorite way of making seitan is to bake it. To me, this is the easiest method of all three because there is no broth, no big pot of water and nothing else to worry about. Plus, you don’t have to wait until the next day to eat it. Baking seitan is especially good when making very firm recipes such as short ribs or roasts. I have found that these firm pieces of seitan can be softened when braised so it has really become my go-to method. To bake seitan, grease a baking dish and add the kneaded and rested dough to the dish. Flatten and stretch the dough to fit the dish. How much you flatten and stretch it determines how thick or thin the seitan will be.
Cut the dough into however many pieces you want. (Note the picture above for Boneless Short Ribs) – top with a spice rub and bake for an hour or so until the it has a sturdy texture. Remove the baking dish from the oven, recut the pieces and remove them from the baking dish. Then use them in whatever recipe you are making. This is the method I use to make my Balsamic BBQ Seitan Ribs and my irresistible Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce or Seitan Suffed Red Peppers.
The important thing is to find the recipes and methods that work best for you. Then make them often so it becomes familiar and easier to you. Once you get the hang of making your own perfect seitan, you will never buy it again.
- 6 Cups of Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
- 2 and 1/4 Cups of water
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Onion powder
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Carrot, sliced
- 3 Cups vegetable stock
- 1.5 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika powder
- 1.5 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Date syrup (no added sugar)
- 1 tbsp Mustard
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Peanut butter (optional)
- Pinch of Thyme (optional)
How to Boil Seitan:
- In a bowl (or in a mixer bowl), mix together the flour, garlic powder and salt.
- Gradually add the water until creating the dough (make sure it doesn’t get sticky)
- Take out the dough and knead until receiving a smooth texture.
- At this point we will start preparing the stew in which the Seitan will be cooked in, and from which it will get its flavor.
- In a pot, warm up the oil and add in the onion to simmer till golden.
- Add the carrots and the spices and let simmer for 2-3 mins.
- Add in the vegetable stock and stir lightly.
- Add in the Seitan and cook for 35-45 mins (make sure the Seitan swells as it cooks).
- When its ready, we will take it out of the pot, and let cool for 15-20 mins.
- To prevent it from flattening, you can tie it up with a string.
- As its resting, we will prepare a marinade by mixing all the marination ingredients together, and then evenly apply the marinade onto the Seitan (from all sides).
- Place the Seitan in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees (c) for 15-25 mins
When the Seitan is out of the oven remove to cutting board or dish and slice into the desired shape. Thicker slices can be for meatloaf ans thinner slices can be for roast beef sandwiches or turkey slices. It all depends on your desired flavor and texture. Seitan is one of the most versatile meat replacements and can be made at a fraction of the cost of some brand name vegetarian protein options.
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