Seitan O’Greatness

December 31, 2007 at 2:17 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan, Website / blog)

I don’t read many food blogs regularly; I’m have more of a search-for-an-ingredient-or-recipe approach to browsing the blogosphere. So I missed the whole Seitan O’Greatness epidemic that apparently raged through the vegan blogging world like influenza through a chicken factory farm. I first heard about it when browsing at Isa Chandra’s blog, and apparently since then the recipe has continued to fell every innocent vegan blogger it touches. What is Seitan O’greatness you’re probably thinking. It’s a seitan made from vital wheat gluten, mixed with lots of spices and other ingredients, rolled into a log shape, and baked in tin foil. What comes out looks an awful lot like salami, at least to someone who never looks at salami without squinting and crossing her eyes (to make it appear blurry and not as distinctly dead-piggish).

I made a version that combines a few different bloggers’ recipes, as well as my own experience with marinades for frozen tofu.

Dry ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs paprika
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground fennel

Wet ingredients

  • 3/4 cups water
  • 4 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 325°. In a small mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the liquid ingredients in a large mixing bowl until the peanut butter is completely dissolved. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for just a minute or two.

Form into a log (6”-8″ long), and wrap tightly in foil, twisting the ends. Bake for 90 minutes. Eat immediately, or unwrap and let it cool, then wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate.

My Notes:

Even with just a pinch of cinnamon, when I smelled the dough it smelled strongly of cinnamon, so I was surprised that the cinnamon wasn’t detectable in the final product. I couldn’t taste the peanut butter distinctly either. I was worried that my accidental use of 2 Tbs. paprika rather than 2 tsp. would be problematic, and though the seitan did have a strong smoky taste, it wasn’t overpowering. I might cut it to 4 tsp. next time though.

The texture was unlike any seitan I’ve made before–more breadlike, with a very fine and delicate crumb. The texture and flavor actually reminded me a lot of those fake vegan hot dogs you can buy at the grocery store (perhaps because of the smoke seasoning?). After letting the seitan cool the outside became a bit dry and tough—I liked it better more moist, as it was right when it came out of the oven.

I enjoyed snacking on it, but beware, it’s way more filling than it looks (it’s basically pure protein). I sliced it thinly and put it on a sandwich with avocado and julienned carrots, and it was reasonably tasty but a bit dry.

Derek said the flavor was pleasant, and not bad for a sandwich filling, but that the texture wasn’t quite right–too chewy. It would be better if it were a little tougher, like salami. It should tear. Also, he objected strongly to the name: “It should be called Seitan Salami, after all, it’s not that great.”  He ate the seitan if I served it to him, but he never asked for it.

Other versions online include nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and almond butter. I’m looking forward to playing with the seasonings to optimize the flavor.


Derek: B-
Rose: B-

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