On Tuesdays, We Worship Seitan.
Well cheez and rice, it’s Monday already…I got so busy writing my last post that I kinda forgot to mention that Andy and I had company last Tuesday (March 30), and that I tried out some recipes on them.
RECIPE(S) OF (LAST) WEEK! Yaaaayyy!
Andy invited his new photography buddy, Kevin, along with his wife, Christine, over to let me do my culinary experimentin’. Fearing that I would make something too dainty (risotto!?!) my guy requested that I make something hearty and manly.
Veganomicon has a recipe for a BBQ Seitan and Crispy Coleslaw sandwich. “Serve this luscious and saucy sandwich to any vegan food naysayer and it will whip that bad attitude right into shape,” the introduction said. The suggestion of violence appealed to me so I decided to go for it.
So on Tuesday afternoon, I got started making the seitan. For those of you who are new to the realm of meat substitutes, seitan (pronounced say-TAN) is made from wheat gluten, which is the protein that makes bread dough stretchy. When cooked, it has a wonderful chewy texture. Wheat meat! In fact, when cooked properly, the texture is so similar to meat that it freaks some vegans out.
You can buy gluten at many grocery stores and many health-food stores sell it in bulk. I’ve never tried this, but you can also make it the old-school way by mixing regular flour with water until it forms a dough, and rinsing the dough for several minutes until the starchiness washes away.
I started out using the seitan recipe in the cookbook, which calls for nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic to be combined with the gluten powder. After kneading the mixture–which becomes slightly tougher than bread dough–the book said to divide it into three pieces and simmer it in a broth for an hour, but…
Boiling seitan is tricky. I have an electric stove, which makes it difficult for me to control the temperature. It takes far too long for me to reduce the heat from “boil” to “simmer,” and if the seitan boils too long, it will become a spongy blob. Yeah I could use two burners–one turned up high for boiling, one kept low for simmering–but do I look like a gymnast or something?
Instead, I used another method I’d read about in tons of other blogs–form the dough into a log, wrap the whole shebang tightly in foil, and bake it. The foil keeps the dough packed together so there’s no chance for sponginess. I forgot that there’s an insanely popular recipe that uses this method…next time, baby!
After letting it bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, I pulled out a big, long, thick “salami.” Yes, I like this cooking method much, much better.
Did it taste like salami, ham, or pepperoni? Not so much. But the texture was really dense and meaty, with a salty, smoky flavor. (A little too salty, actually–did I use tamari instead of soy sauce? Feck.) Once you slap it on some bread and use condiments judiciously, who cares? Too bad I don’t have one of those big deli-slicers to shave it really thin.
Next time I’ll go for girth rather than length, so I can have slices that are more bologna-sized. Since the slices were too small when I cut the tube crosswise, nobody said I couldn’t cut it lengthwise, did they?
I put the slices in a baking pan and smothered them in store-bought barbecue sauce and let them mary-nate for a while before throwing the whole thing in an oven at 350 for about 30 minutes.
As for the crispy, creamy coleslaw topping, I made that with purple and white cabbage, but no carrots as directed in the recipe because I didn’t want to do any more chopping. It was still good! I could have eaten it by itself. I grew up not liking coleslaw, but this was nothing like the vomitocious KFC sludge I remember. Bigger chunks, less dressing. Veddy important.
For roughage and cuteness, I made Veganomicon‘s Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad, mixing it in a glass jar. Served in a leaf of radicchio, just like in the book–flippin’ adorable. I just couldn’t get the seasonings right–it was okay but not great. It has potential for greatness though.
I assembled the sammiches, added baby carrots and chips, and we ate!
I concur, the sandwiches were indeed luscious and saucy. Kevin and Christine seemed to like them, and I know Andy liked them because he and I split another one after our company left. For them to be truly manly, though, they probably should have been BIGGER. I wish I’d gotten different buns–hoagie buns would have been better, so that the long strips of wheat meat would fit ever-so-snugly.
So I have the cooking part down (mostly), I just need to work on the other aspects of hostessing: seating arrangements, making sure there are enough utensils and PLATES for everyone (gladly our guests were cool about bringing their own), and dinner conversation. Sigh…
Thanks, seitan, for making everything okay!
What are your favorite uses for seitan?