I have a confession to make. The first time I attempted to make seitan, I didn’t understand the difference between wheat flour and gluten flour. Somewhere in my mind, “wheat meat” and “flour” merged into “wheat flour,” so that’s what I used. The result was that my first batch of seitan was spectacularly disappointing. It was like gnawing on old shoe rubber. It was breaded and served with gravy, but still. It was shoe rubber.
It took some time for me to believe that actual humans could make seitan. My brother would talk about how great my sister-in-law’s seitan was, and I would hum uncomfortably and stare out the window. Hadn’t we grown up eating the same kinds of foods? My mom is a great cook. Shouldn’t my brother’s palate have been trained like mine? Why did my brother like shoe rubber so much?
Frankly, it was a bit mind-boggling.
Fast-forward a few months. I found the courage to mumble to my sister-in-law about how my seitan was eaten only by grim-faced family members who I believed secretly thought I should sell my recipe to a popular running shoe manufacturer. She kindly told me that it took a while to get the hang of it and suggested I try different recipes. This was good advice. I studied recipes and read more about gluten. The first time I made decent seitan, I was awash with relief regarding my brother’s gustatory perception. We do still like the same foods! Seitan’s great! It can be a bit labor intensive, but when you get it right, it’s pretty rock and roll!
Now we fast-forward to this morning. I woke up pretty much/more or less/kinda sorta/mostly okay. I wasn’t quite 100%, but I could just tell that yesterday’s cookies had helped me kick that summer virus. I figured that positive thinking could take me the rest of the way to well. Rock and Roll is my middle name! Seitan for dinner it is!
I planned to use Isa’s recipe for seitan, which you can find here: http://www.theppk.com/2014/02/chicken-stylee-seitan/ However, due to some grocery related difficulties, I had to punt a bit. Fortunately, I’m used to it. Living where we do, I’ve developed pretty strong punting skills. It’s true; there really are areas of California in which people still scratch their heads at the word “vegan.”
I try to feed many of those people cupcakes and cookies as often as I can. But I digress…
Without further ado, I bring you
Sizzling Summer Seitan Salad
(recipe makes about 2 pounds of seitan)
Broth for cooking seitan
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 5-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
Bring the ingredients to a boil in a large pot, then lower the heat until the liquid is simmering. Do not allow it to come to a boil again. This is important to the texture of your finished seitan.
- 2 cups vital wheat gluten
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
In a very large bowl, whisk the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, whole wheat flour, onion powder, dried sage, and salt in a large bowl. Add the broth, soy sauce, and olive oil.
Mix everything with a spoon for just a minute. It will start to kind of clump up very quickly. Once this happens, knead the dough until you have incorporated all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. It may seem like you have too much dry, but just keep kneading. Eventually, it will all form a ball with very little left in the bowl that isn’t part of the dough ball.
Cut the ball into eight pieces. Press each dough piece into a flat, semi-smooth cutlet shape. It’s very springy; so just do your best to make the pieces flat and even. They don’t have to be especially thin, but do keep in mind that they will expand when you cook them. If you are making the recipe for skewers, you want them to be a little dense.
Place the dough into the broth one by one. Cover the broth, but allow a bit of space between the lid and the pot. Being careful not to allow the broth to boil, simmer the seitan for about 45 minutes. Use tongs to move the seitan around at least once halfway through the cooking. Allow to cool in the broth.
Next, it’s time for marinade!
But first, a quick story.
We had a tangelo tree in our backyard when I was a kid. It produced what seemed like a hundred thousand tangelos each year. No one family could eat that many tangelos. We gave them away in paper grocery bags to anyone who would take them or, better yet, anyone who was too busy to notice we’d just plopped a bag loaded with about 40 tangelos beside them and then quietly slunk away.
I hadn’t had a tangelo in years, but my husband brought some home the other day. They’re sweet and tangy and, as it turns out, inspiring, too!
And now, back to our marinade!
Sizzling Seitan Skewers Marinade
- 1 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1-½ tablespoons chiles in adobo, chopped (These come in a can. I freeze the rest in a flattened baggy and break off what I need when I want to use them.)
Whisk ingredients together and add the cooked seitan. Allow to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, turning at least once.
After marinating the seitan, cut each piece into 4 pieces.
To make the skewers, I slid button mushrooms, tomatoes, and the seitan on each skewer, then brushed them all with the extra marinade. You can use whatever you like. Improvise! It’ll be fun.
Barbeque the skewers over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side, brushing the skewers frequently with the extra marinade.
I served ours with salad made with chopped avocado, chopped green onions, spinach, arugula, sunflower seeds, golden raisins, craisins, black rice, and (dun-da- dun-na) chopped tangelos! I also put out salt, pepper, and some vegan salad dressings. Everyone assembled their own salad and ate like royalty.
All of it makes for a very hearty meal that filled everyone’s bellies ‘til they couldn’t eat any more. There were only three of us, but we easily had enough for six.
Seitan and tangelos! Together they made a hearty meal flavored with citrusy sweet childhood memories, and how great is that?