I like meat.
Bonnie Lee likes meat.
Despite that, meat has never been a big part of our diet, and it’s not something we cook with at home very often.
We made that choice very consciously when we were first married based on simple arithmetic: it takes more land, water and sunshine to make a pound of meat than a pound of vegetables — and there is only so much water, sunshine and land to go around. Given that, and the fact that there are people who go to bed hungry, a meat-rich diet always felt like taking more than our fair share. It always felt selfish and wasteful.
Having been raised in traditional North American households, though, we both grew up with meat at the centre of our diets, and enjoy meat’s bite and texture, not to mention that burst of umami. When a meal calls for that, we often use seitan.
There are many varieties of commercial seitan, and most are very tasty, but if you’d rather opt out of the additives, packaging and transportation that come with processed food, you’ll be pleased to note that it’s easy to make at home. We made our fist batch this weekend, and it was better than any packaged seitan I’ve ever tried. It was flavourful on it’s own – even better after sitting in a chipotle marinade – and had a great mouthfeel. We used it to make tacos, which we served with a fresh homemade salsa and cilantro rice. I’m currently working on a vegetarian collection for the 222 million tons app, and this recipe definitely made the cut.
Seitan (six servings)
- ¾ cups stone soup or other broth
- 2 Tbsp tamari sauce
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
- 4 cups stone soup or other broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 Tbsp tamari sauce
- ½ inch ginger
- 1 thick slice of onion
- 1 clove garlic
- Warm 4¾ cups of stone soup broth over medium heat.
- Remove ¾ cups of the broth to make the seitan. Add in the tamari, lemon juice and crushed garlic.
- Put the flour in a bowl, pour in the spiced broth, and mix.
- Take the elastic glob that forms out of the bowl, squeeze out any excess liquid, and knead it for 2 or 3 minutes until it gets tough.
- Shape it into a loaf, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- While the seitan is resting, add the water, tamari sauce, ginger, onion and garlic to the remaining broth and bring to a low boil.
- Cut the seitan loaf into ¼ inch slices, then boil those in the broth for about an hour.
I’m coming over for this dinner! Looks absolutely delicious.
You’re always welcome (and I’m sure the cats would enjoy catching up); we’ll even remember to leave the cheese off of your taco.
I am quite certain you posted this one for me!! This is the first I’ve read of “seitan” and will go and look for some. Perhaps it’s no different than the tofurky sausages in the vegan aisle? Though those are technically vegan – they contain whey and egg. Looking for an alternative…
My kids have enjoyed the soy-based italian sausages with eggplant carbonata and soba noodles. We really aren’t missing the meat!
Awesome post, Jean-François. We are also lovers of the taste and texture of meat, but then again, who isn’t? We are vegan now for the same reasons as you mentioned above – milk and eggs just being an extension to the same industry that started us off of meats.
Hi Shannon, somehow this comment ended up in the spam filter – the first time that’s happened for a legitimate comment (and from a frequent poster at that). Wonder what set the filter off? Maybe all these references to “seitan” make it nervous.
I was thinking of you when I posted, as it happened. Seitan is wheat protein (aka gluten) and has a really different texture than the soy based products I’ve tried (and fills that meaty void really well). It’s also oddly easy and fun to make (playing with goopy, elasticy things is high on my list of entertaining things to do in the kitchen) – something I can imagine you and your kids getting into.
Wow! I am honored to get stuck in your spam filters. Maybe the WP gods are unhappy that I don’t eat spam anymore, their way of rubbing my nose in it.
Since you put it that way (playing with sticky goop), I do believe I must jack this up on my list of food stuffs to make! We’ve recently been baking our own veggie pizza. It’s to die for. I ate a whole one this afternoon all by myself. I still have yet to make some soy milk with my new soy milk maker (I have almond and coconut recipes too!). Just too much to do…
You’re on to something with the spam angle. I think it was Empedocles who first theorized that spam can neither be created nor destroyed … but it can be transformed. I suspect that that principle is what’s at work here.
Looking forward to hearing about your sticky goop experiences.
It does look good. I do eat veggie patties shaped like hamburgers, but never heard of Seitan before.
It’s basically wheat protein (a.k.a. gluten). It has a great chewy texture, and is porous so it absorbs flavors nicely. You should give it a try.
Great, a new veggie meat-alternative to try making. Sort of a dense dumpling. Have you ever tried freezing it for storage?
I’ve never tried freezing it, but just did a quick search, and it seems you can: http://www.ehow.com/info_8724596_can-freeze-seitan.html
I am so intrigued by this! I gave up red meat 10 years ago but do eat chicken, turkey and seafood — though not every day. I hate preparing meat at home. Hate it. So I’m constantly searching for meat alternatives that doesn’t come in the form of a box of frozen processed soy-meat patties. Thanks for the recipe.
If newly-vegan Shannon from Dirt N Kids doesn’t stop by to read this, hit her over the head with it in the form of a link posted on her blog. You can tell her I put you up to it.
I’m sure she’ll stumble across it sooner or later – she always does. Definitely preferred this to any veggie burger I’ve had. For the tacos, I just sliced up a few cutlets, and marinated them in a little lime, oil and spices before pan frying them.
Great additional tips — thank you!
That looks incredibly tasty! Very much looking forward to the vegetarian collection!
Well, I’ve cooked the meals, so now all I have to do is write it up – my weekend project for the next few weeks. The perfect thing to do in my wee hotel room.
That rice looks so light and fluffy and perfect!
We started using a rice cooker when we were in Japan (when in Rome…), which makes it really hard to mess up on the rice.
Thanks for this, J-F; I hadn’t realised how easy it would be to make seitan (ya gotta love the name). I am not too much into wheat, preferring tofu, beans and fish, but I would love to have your permission to share this recipe to my patients who are cutting down on meat and who need to avoid soy. I am doing a Japanese-Mexican taco-ey thing soon (!), with butternut squash and black beans, with additional protein options. Can I link it to this post? Pretty please? If you don’t mind being associated with such a mongrel approach to food that is…
Making seitan with regular flour is a pretty daunting task, but if you start with vital wheat gluten flour, it’s not so much trouble, and kind of fun.
And by all means, feel free to share this or any other ideas you find here.
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Great reading youur blog post