Steamed seitan

January 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Seitan, Website / blog)

My friend Katrina, a kind hearted soul, sent me a care package containing Trader Joe’s thai lime and chili cashews, and a package of vital wheat gluten.  I searched around for a while before deciding how to use the much-pined-after flour, and ended up choosing a recipe for steamed seitan from Kittee’s blog Cake Maker to the Stars, a recipe based on a steaming technique developed by Julie Hasson.  The recipe calls for 3 cups of gluten, but I had just under 2 cups, so I cut the recipe by one third, even though Kittee explicitly says not to.  Also, I added in a spoonful of peanut butter because I was trying to finish off a jar and peanut butter makes everything better. Kittee says the recipe should yield a 3 pound loaf, but I only ended up with 1 pound 12 ounces of seitan, slightly less than the 2 pounds I was expecting.  I didn’t have any creole seasoning, so I read recipes for creole seasoning and created my own blend:

  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (more if you want the seitan to be spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. basil

The spice blend makes just over the 1 Tbs. of creole seasoning that the recipe calls for.

The recipe was a bit more work than I expected, because caramelizing the onions took forever, and I only have a mini food processor so I had to process the onions in batches.  On the other hand, it did make a lot of seitan, and Kittee says it can be frozen.  The other difficulty I had with this recipe is that I used a folding steamer basket in my largest pot, but the basket’s legs are only about 1 inch tall, so I couldn’t add that much water without boiling the seitan.  I added water after 20 minutes but still ended up running out of water towards the end and burning my pan before I noticed that all the water was gone.  Next time I’ll make sure there’s a good 3 inches of water in my pan at the beginning, even if I have to construct a make-shift steamer.

The flavor of this seitan was okay, but a bit too strong for me.   I would prefer a more neutral seitan that could be used in many different types of dishes.   The texture was better than the flavor.  It wasn’t anything like boiled seitan–it was not spongy at all but denser and fattier tasting.  The texture actually reminded me a lot of the White Mountain Foods “wheat roast” we used to buy in Austin when I was a kid, which was made with only gluten, peanut butter, and nutritional yeast, but had a perfect texture and rich, nutty flavor.   I tried my seitan by itself, and it was okay but not exciting.  I also tried it on a sandwich, but I didn’t care for the flavoring that much.

Derek liked this seitan more than me.  He was so inspired that he even invented the “Seitanosaurus rex,” a dinosaur that resembles the velociraptor in Jurassic Park, but only eats (as Derek calls it) wheat meat.  Every morning he would transform himself into the Seitanosaurus rex, and rove excitedly around the kitchen searching for “wheat meat”.  Once he found it he would cut himself 4 slices (about 4 ounces) of seitan and sit down to a plate of “wheat meat and ketchup.”  I thought it looked pretty gross, but Derek obviously liked it, as he singlehandedly finished almost the entire pound and a half of seitan.  I asked Derek if the seitan tasted like meat, or tasted like creole anything, and he said no, not at all.  Then he ate another slice of seitan.

Rating: B-

Derek: A-

July 27, 2009, 2nd try:

This time I got my hands on enough gluten flour to make the full recipe.  I still made my own creole seasoning, but I didn’t add any peanut butter.  The log was huge, and didn’t really fit into the steaming pot I was planning on cooking it in, but I kind of folded it in to make it fit.  It grew as it steamed, however, and by the end had pushed the lid of the pot off.  Nonetheless, the texture seemed fine and the seitan seemed well cooked.  The texture is actually quite similar to the White Mountain wheat roast, and the flavor isn’t that different either.  It’s a little less fatty tasting, and it doesn’t have the darker crust since it’s steamed not baked, but it has that same string-cheese like texture without being spongy like seitan often is.  Derek said it wasn’t quite as good as the last time, because the flavor is more mild, but still he likes it a lot.

May 2010, 3rd try:

I made the full recipe and added a little peanut butter for flavoring.  This time I forgot to mix the onion/tomato/seasoning mixture with the water before mixing in the gluten flour.  I had the seasoning mixture in the bottom of a big bowl, I poured the dry ingredients on top, then poured on the water.  I totally forgot that as soon as you add the water the gluten flour goes from flour to long, tight strands of gluten.  It’s very difficult to work the seasoning into the gluten mass.  I tried kneading it together and got the seasoning paste distributed somewhat, but there were still lots of spots without any seasoning.  I shaped the dough into a fatter, squatter shape so it would fit in my steaming basket, and I steamed it for the full time.  The seitan around the edges was a little hard and dry.  Perhaps I should have steamed it for a slightly shorter time?  The result of my fiasco was actually pretty interesting.  The seitan was “marbled”.  The places where the seasoning paste were worked in were dark and a little fatty, and the places that hadn’t gotten any seasoning paste were paler and less fatty.  It gave the seitan a bit of a meaty look too it.  Derek said “Ah, you made me a pot roast!”  I don’t know about the meatiness, but I quite enjoyed it.  The flavors are more mild than the first time I made it, and more to my taste.

Rating: B


  1. Susan said,

    The seitan of your youth was made from gluten, penaut butter and oil, not nutritional yeast.

  2. captious said,

    Well, this is what it says on the White Mountain Foods website: Ingredients: Wheat gluten, peanut butter, naturally brewed shoyu, nutritional yeast

  3. susan said,

    Well I stand corrected. There was also nutritional yeast in it, but OIL was a big part of it. I wonder why White Mountain does not say so?

  4. captious said,

    The most logical explanation is that they’ve changed the recipe to make it healthier, and no longer add oil.

  5. esme said,

    um. maybe follow the recipe next time and it’ll turn out the way you wanted?

    are you really serious about saying bad things about this recipe even though you state in the beginning that you cut the recipe into a third, even after the author says not to, added your own ingredients that are totally different from the what the recipes calls for, and then asked if it tasted creole when you had no creole seasoning? that takes some balls, lady.

  6. captious said,

    I didn’t say “bad things” about the original recipe, I described the changes I made to the recipe, and then honestly described what I (and Derek) thought of the final product, as I had made it.

    I would love to try the original recipe, but I live in a small city in Germany and I can’t find Creole seasoning. I followed the link on Kittee’s blog to some recipes for Creole seasoning, and based my seasoning mix on those recipes. Also, gluten flour is difficult for me to find here. My friend Katrina was kind enough to send me a box from the States, but the box only contained 2 cups, not 3. I didn’t want to wait another 6 months until I could get a second box, so I decided to just risk it and go with the smaller amount. Apparently, that sort of disobedience is unforgivable in the food blog world!

  7. Seitan, boiled « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] flower, paprika…  Third, you have to decide how to cook your seitan.  You can boil it, steam it (another try), braise it, saute it, or bake it.  For each method you have to decide what kind of […]

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