Seitan Piccata

July 28, 2007 at 9:09 pm (B_, Italian, Other, Seitan, Soymilk)


As I’ve said in the past, I really want to learn how to make the seitan in white wine sauce that they serve at Blossom. I found a recipe for seitan piccata from Candle 79, on chowhound. I found a somewhat different recipe for seitan piccata from candle cafe on vegcooking.com. We decided to go with the first recipe, but I might try the second version next time as it’s much lower fat.

* 6 seitan cutlets (mine were a bit small so I used 8, from about 1.5 balls of homemade seitan)
* Whole-wheat flour for dredging (about 3/4 cup?)
* 4 Tbs. olive oil
* 1/4 cup chopped shallots
* 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (I used red)
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used one large clove)
* 2 tablespoons drained capers
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (I used homemade broth, salted)
* 2 tablespoons soy buttery spread (soy margarine) (I used earth balance)
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I omitted this)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Dredge seitan cutlets in whole-wheat flour, shaking off any excess.
2. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. When oil is hot, sauté cutlets until crisp and golden brown, about 30 seconds per side. Place each cutlet on an individual plate or arrange them all on a platter.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan and return to high heat. Add shallots, onion, garlic, and capers, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and lemon juice, and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.
4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute to combine flavors. Whisk in soy spread, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour over seitan cutlets and serve at once.

My Notes

When you saute the seitan it gets crispy, but I really wanted tender, delicate seitan, so I think I’d omit this step next time, and save 2 Tbs. of olive oil to boot. I’d also probably just use 1 Tbs. of olive oil to saute the onions, or possibly slightly less. I left the salt out since the vegetable broth, capers, and buttery spread were all salted, and found that the dish was plenty salty. With all 6 Tbs. of fat we found this a bit too rich tasting. But the basic flavor was pretty good–lemony but not overpowering, the parsley added freshness and a lovely color, the shallots added a pretty touch of pink to the sauce, and the caper flavor really dominated. It wasn’t perfect, but nice.

When asked to comment Derek replied “It was what I expected, no more, no less.”

Oh, another note about the seitan. I wanted non-asian tasting seitan for this dish, so I used very little soy sauce in the broth, and I thought the seitan came out tasting quite nice, and not asian. The seitan was much lighter than normal, but still had good flavor. I cooked it in a broth of carrots, celery, black pepper, bay leaves, etc.–the kinds of things that I’d normally put in vegetable broth, plus 1 bouillon cube (enough for 1/2 cup of water it says on the package). I saved the broth, and I think it will make an excellent matzoh ball soup.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

Update July 31, 2010:

It’s been three years since I’ve made seitan piccata, and I decided to try it again, but this time I used the recipe from the Millenium Cookbook.  The recipe is all over the internets.

Taken from The Millennium Cookbook – Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine (see the original recipe in the cookbook)

Makes 6 servings

Herb Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 servings (1 1/2 pounds) marinated seitan, cut into medallions
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (optional)

Piccata Sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 paper-thin lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups dry white wine (you can use non-alcoholic wine)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Thin lemon slices and minced fresh parsley or chives for garnish

In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients for the herb crust. In another shallow bowl, combine the soy milk and mustard. Dredge the seitan with the crust mixture, dip in the soy milk mixture, then dredge again in the crust mixture. Cook the seitan in a dry nonstick pan over medium-high heat until lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.  (Or saute in the oil.)  Keep warm in low oven.

To make the sauce: Wipe out the pan and place it over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast until lightly browned. Add the lemon slices, the remaining sauce ingredients. Boil until the volume is reduced by almost half. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Serve the hot sauce over seitan. Garnish with more lemon slices and parsley.

My notes:

I followed the sauce recipe carefully, except that when the instructions said “add the rest of the sauce ingredients” I added them all, including the arrowroot sludge.  Whoops!  I had to add more arrowroot in the end to get the sauce to thicken.

The sauce tasted truly terrible–way too lemon-y and acidic, and even bitter.  What did I do wrong?  I compared the Millenium recipe to the Candle Cafe recipe above, and two different recipes from Cook’s Illustrated:

Recipe Millennium Candle Cafe Cook’s Illustrated CI Light
Fat none 4 Tbs. olive oil + 4 Tbs. margarine 6 Tbs. butter none
Lemon juice 8 Tbs. + 4 slices lemon 4 Tbs. 8 Tbs. + sliced lemon 2 Tbs + 1/2 lemon, sliced
Liquid 2 cups white wine + 3 Tbs. water 1 cup white wine + 1 cup veg. broth 2 cups stock 1.5 cups stock + 2 Tbs. milk

Okay, clearly I’m not crazy.    The Cook’s Illustrated recipe uses the same amount of lemon and liquid, but also adds 6 Tbs. of butter to tone down the acid.  And still, on the CI forums many people say that they found the sauce too lemony, and some people complain about bitterness (which presumably comes from the pith in the boiled lemon slices).  Some posters suggest simmering the liquid rather than boiling it, to prevent the bitterness from being extracted from the pith.  The CI light recipe doesn’t use any added fat, but only calls for 2 Tbs. of lemon juice.  The candle cafe recipe uses half the lemon juice and adds 8 Tbs. of fat!

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