Seitan…you un-sexy little beast, I might be falling in ‘like’ with you after all

When I started this journey there were a lot of foods that I was like, whhhaaaatt, you eat whaaatt.

You blend tofu? You soak cashews and make them into cheese and desserts? You use nooch to make things taste cheesy? And what in the hell is this random stuff called Seitan?

Well – my hands are up. You were right and I was wrong.

I now feel like a fully fledged convert. I use cashews in everything – bases for desserts, in my cashew cheese which has become a weekly staple, on my cereal. I blend tofu and make ricotta, I scramble it for breakfast and I use it to make smoothies. I literally put nooch on or in everything – despite the fact that my husband thinks it smells like something that’s been regurgitated…

However, its taken me a while (and three attempts) to actually be convinced that seitan is worth the effort.

2015-05-31 13.49.48 Let’s be frank. Its a little odd. Its certainly an acquired taste. I am not entirely sure I love it more than a shop bought veggie sausage but what I do love is that i made it, i know exactly what’s in it and that its a learning curve cooking it. I love learning how to cook new things and this is certainly one thats a challenge.

It sort of reminded me of mum’s meat loaf when I was little. A little herby and goes great with gravy and roasted veg. And the benefit is – no-one was harmed in the making of this meal. Winning.

I thought I’d share my last attempt with you as its the first time I’ve actually felt like what I cooked was something I could present to the world…the first two attempts were, quite frankly, average. I tried poaching it – a lot of recipes cook it this way in water – but I found the consistency a little soggy and odd and I couldn’t stomach it. My preferred method is definitely the baking in the oven wrapped in tin foil method. Still a little juicy but not overly moist and gooey.

So here goes. If you want to try it – I’d love to hear your thoughts. Each to their own and all. I’d especially love to 2015-05-31 10.33.49hear it if you improve on it or have any ideas or if you have a kick-ass (non poached) version of a seitan recipe you can share.

Stage 1: Blend like crazy

Fry 1 sliced stick of celery, 1 yellow capsicum and 1 red onion together in a hot pan in nuttelex (1 tablespoon) until cooked but not coloured.

Whilst this is frying get your blend on and mix the following until it looks like the delightful (not) mix in the image above.

2 cloves garlic

1/4 c tamari

large pinch salt

1.5 tsp liquid smoke (or 2 if you love it smoky)

2015-05-31 10.34.283 tblsp tomato paste

1 cup nooch / nutritional yeast

1 tblsp paprika

2 tblsp olive oil

1 tblspn chopped dried porcini mushrooms in 3/4 cup boiling water (that’s cooled slightly)

Pinch turmeric

Large pinch white pepper

1 packet vegan onion soup mix (salt reduced)

1/2 teaspoon vegemite

Blend until your heart’s content. Then add the finished frying mix into this and blend again. Taste and add flavours as you go if you think it needs more of anything… remember – seitan is a personal choice – and you have to build the flavours you love into it.

Stage 2: Get your hands dirty

Then – in a separate bowl – mix together 1/2 cup tapioca pearls (this give a little chewiness but no flavour to the dish) / 2 teaspoons ground black peppercorns / 2.5 cups vital wheat gluten.

Then pop the wet mix into the dry mix and get your hands into it. Mix it around until its a doughy consistency that holds together. It should have some wetness but not be so wet it can’t hold a shape. You need to be able to form it into a tube shape to hold when cooking so its no use to you if its just too wet. If this is the case just add more vital gluten until the balance is right.

Then – pop the oven on to about 170/ 200 degrees C and let it get nice and toasty in there.

Step 3: Get your bake on

Whilst the oven’s warming up – form your mix into tubes (like my little silver ones in the image above) and wrap them night and tight. Top tip – spray the inside of the foil with oil before you wrap so the mix doesn’t stick to the foil and burn OR rub the mix itself with a little oil once you’ve formed it into a shape.

2015-05-31 13.49.48Then cook for about an hour. I haven’t managed to nail this timing yet. Each attempt has taken different amounts of time each time – ranging between an hour to 1.5 hrs. So take it slow and keep checking it. You’ll get a sense of when its done. Firm on the outside but still has a little spring to the touch (e.g hasn’t totally dried out).

Once its mostly done – I take it out of the foil and then pop it back in the oven to brown off a bit so the skin has a nice crunch. Like I said – I really don’t like the soggy cooked version of this stuff.

And that’s it. Serve with roasted veg and gravy, or slice it in a sanger, crumble it over a salad…its bloody brilliantly versatile.

Tonight’s dinner…seitan with mixed shrooms and baby carrots with a coriander garlic sauce. Yum.

Oops..I forgot to add nooch. 😉

2015-06-05 17.52.43Seitan…I might just be changing my mind about you…

ridiculous name? Yes.

Hard to cook well? Yes.

Appetising to look add? Not really.

Delicious game changer? Definitely.

Seitan – you are ridiculous but I like you. A lot.

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