Friday, October 24, 2008

VeganMoFo: Don't Hate on Simmered Seitan

I know there has been a lot of hate toward "boiled seitan" by some veg*ns. While I like the steamed/baked seitan just as much as the next guy I think simmered seitan should not be banned from our tables. Part of the problem is probably that seitan should not be boiled - it makes the texture weird and spongy. But simmered seitan is my preference for soups and stew. It also freezes well, so make a whole batch even if you are not going to use it right away. Just freeze the remainder covered with simmering liquid. 

Beefy Seitan
The key to good simmered seitan is to flavor the dough itself and the simmering liquid. Too many recipes just mix vital wheat gluten and water and then plop it in barely flavored water. No wonder so many people don't like it. This one is simmered just an hour, which results in a more chewy, dense seitan. I do this on purpose, since typically it gets cooked again in an actual dish. In the stew recipe I posted yesterday it becomes very tender, which is exactly what I wanted. 

If you have a large enough pot you can definitely double this recipe so you will have plenty of leftovers. In all honesty, large hunks of simmered seitan are not very attractive, so I'm sparing you pictures.

1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chicken flavor broth mix
3/4 cup water 

Mix all the ingredients well and knead 5 minutes. Cover and let rest 20 minutes. Use this time to get the simmering liquid ready.

Simmering Liquid
6 cups water
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp "no beef" bouillon
2 bay leaves
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp black tea leaves (loose tea is best as the tea leaves are much larger than in tea bags)

Place all ingredients in a large saute pan or stockpot with a tight fitting lid.

This part is very flexible, you can shape the dough into two larger logs (they won't stay well rounded however), or cutlets, or even big chunks, just keep an eye on them and adjust the cooking time accordingly. I usually divide the dough in four and stretch each piece into cutlets. 

Set all the pieces in the simmering liquid and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat so that the liquid is gently bubbling and cover pan.

Simmer 1 hour, turning two or three times. It will get all puffy when it is cooking and then shrink back down after it has cooled. 

Once it has cooled, strain the simmering liquid before putting away the seitan. The liquid is very flavorful and can be used in place of veggie broth.

I also have a chickeny version, but it is not as good as I would like, so I will post that one once it is perfected.


Tami said...

I prefer "boiled" seitan over steamed or baked, but they all have their places. When I make it, I go for a denser texture, too. Thanks for the recipe!

Jen Treehugger said...

I don't mind boiled or simmered Seitan. Like you said some recipes actually work better with boiled/simmered - just like your Stew.

Bethany said...

I'm totally lazy. I buy my seitan (white wave brand). I'm pretty sure it's the boiled kind, which I love. They use a nice strong liquid. When I get it, I rotate it w/ the seitan in my freezer. Yummy!

maybe I'll get off my butt and make some seitan for a change... boiled of course.