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Seitan Worship

Some friends and I are doing a vegetarian/vegan challenge. I chose the vegan route (scary lab tests results are my motivation). I tried seitan and tempeh years ago and hated it. Since then I have tried seitan at a restaurant and was pleasantly surprised. I figured I wouldn't use meat substitutes this time, but a vegan cookbook I just bought has me considering trying it again. I am a better cook now and my budget is less tight so I can afford a better quality product. Are there any brands or pre-cooked preparations out there that are worth my trying? I read on CH where someone smoked seitan and it was really good. Are there other preparations or recipes that are really good? I am looking for positive experiences with meat substitutes.

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  1. I await responses with great interest. I've been vegan for 3 months, but have not been able to bring myself to eat any of these fake meats. (BTW, after 2 months, my BP and cholesterol numbers were fantastic, so it's been absolutely worth it. Best of luck to you!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      Thanks pikawicca, I need that encouragement. If I try something out I'll post it.

    2. I have no idea about brands, but it might be worth checking out an Asian market.

      I'm an omnivore and I generally dislike meat substitutes, although I like tofu cooked as tofu. The only fake meats I've actually enjoyed have been at Chinese vegan restaurants - notably, a vegan beef soup, and a vegan lamb stew at (of all things) a fantastic vegan South American restaurant in Tapei. The taste is not quite the same, but the texture was remarkably like well stewed beef.

      1. Responding just so I get the updates. I have not tried seitan, but I adore tempeh and tofu--tempeh especially was a revelation, as I just tried it about a year ago but I've been vegetarian for eons now. I would love some tried-and-true recipes!

        1. Smoked, or marinated pressed tofu has a firm enough texture to slice, or dice. Available at all Asian markets.

          1. This is my favorite way, kao fu. The recipe looks good but my MIL makes it and I can't stop eating it.


            1. rule #1: make your own seitan. i ate a lot of seitan when i was vegetarian. i started out with the WhiteWave brand because it was the easiest one to find, but once i tried homemade i never went back. (of course this was in the good old days when i ate gluten!)

              as for preparations, one of my favorites was satay style with a spicy peanut sauce.

              1 Reply
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Agree. I think the Seitan at Whole Foods is horrendous. It's far too tough and chewy for my tastes. Seitan can be--and I think should be--much more airy and springy, like kao fu.

              2. This recipe for teriyaki seitan and broccolini is excellent, and I made my own seitan for it - VERY easy.


                Bakes Seitan

                1/2 cup cooked white beans
                1/4 cup soy sauce
                1 1/4 cup stock - I used mushroom stock
                2 cups vital wheat gluten
                1/3 cup nutritional yeast
                2 teaspoon onion powder
                1 teaspoon garlic powder
                1 teaspoon porcini powder - just grind up dried porcini in a spice grinder
                1/2 teaspoon salt

                1. Place the white beans, soy sauce and stock in a food processor, and process until well blended.

                2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then mix the processed bean mixture with dry, knead for a few minutes, form into a loaf, wrap well in oiled foil and place in a baking dish.

                3. Add an inch of water to the baking dish and bake for 1 1/2 hours (or until firm) at 350.

                4. Let cool for 10 minutes, unwrap the foil and let cool. Then slice and cook according to your recipe.

                1 Reply
                1. re: BabsW

                  Here is a tempeh recipe that we liked a lot. They're sort of mock crab cakes.


                  8 ounces tempeh
                  water to cover
                  1 tablespoon olive oil
                  1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
                  1 bay leaf
                  3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
                  2 tablespoon whole grain mustard
                  1 tablespoon Frank's Red Hot pepper sauce
                  1/4 cup minced onion, rehydrated
                  2 stalks celery, minced
                  2 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
                  8 Saltines, crushed
                  1 handful toasted nori, crumbled
                  Panko breadcrumbs

                  Spicy mayo:

                  3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
                  1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
                  1 tablespoon Frank's Red Pepper hot sauce
                  1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning


                  Crumble the tempeh into a sauce pan. Pour in enough water to cover the tempeh. Add the Bragg's, olive oil and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, uncover and let boil for 12 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain well.

                  Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove bay leaf, and mash the cooked tempeh with a potato masher. Let sit and cool for about 15 minutes.

                  Toss in the minced onion and celery and mix well. Add the crushed saltines and crumbled nori and stir well. Fold in the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, Old Bay Seasoning and mix thoroughly.

                  Fill the bottom of a pie plate with panko breadcrumbs. Take a small handful of the tempeh mixture and form into a ball. Press them into the panko crumbs in the pie pan and flatten them. Coat the top and sides well. Be careful with these cakes, as they will fall apart with rough handling.

                  Gently put about four cakes in a large oiled skillet, frying them over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes for about 5 minutes on one side until (GB&D) golden brown and delicious. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a plate. While the second batch is frying, whip up the spicy mayo by mixing all the ingredients together.

                  Top each cake with a generous dollop of the mayo and eat while still warm.

                  This recipe made 8 generous-sized crabcakes. You could make them much smaller for hors d'oeurvres.

                  They are very fragile. I had to use two spatulas to turn them. I would not recommend turning them more than once. Make sure that you let them cook longer on the first side and come to a nice GB&D state before flipping.

                2. I'm more of a tempeh person. When at the Asian market to get the tempeh, pick up some green curry paste (which is hard for me to find at a grocery store). Brown your tempeh cubes, then set aside. Quickly saute some fresh ginger and garlic, then add in a quick slug of coconut milk, a few dashes of fish sauce, and a spoon of green curry paste, plus brown sugar if you want it a bit sweeter. Let it simmer for a few minutes, adding water if it gets too thick and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Then add the tempeh back in. It ends up being these sort of curry glazed tempeh cubes.

                  1. Now that I have stopped laughing at the best chowhound thread title in recent memory...(seriously, that was hilarious)...

                    At the veg restaurant where I used to work, we did a seitan reuben that was popular. Also, any sort of beef stir-fry works well subbing in seitan. And I definitely have heard people ooh and aah over smoked seitan.

                    Personally, I never got into the taste/texture of seitan. I like tempeh in burger form or in chili. I've had tempeh brushed wth honey and grilled, and it is really good, especially if you then throw it on a pesto pizza with red peppers grilled with honey (sounds weird, but it is amazing). My absolute go-to for meat substitute is deep frying tofu and tossing it with chili-ginger-garlic-soy. You can marinate tofu slabs in that same combo and throw it on the grill, and that is good too.

                    1. Oh, I forgot to mention how hilarious your thread title was as well!! very funny!

                      1. I like this recipe a lot for tempeh.


                        One local Indonesian place makes a great 'sayur bunkus' (vegetarian nasi bunkus), which includes a great mixture of fried tofu cubes and tempeh cubes which seems to have been simmered with some sweet sauce (probably some kekap manis, and not sure what else). That's then served with fragrant rice, a soft mixture of stewed carrot and chayote, a balado egg, and a fried vegetable fritter. Obviously this would be time consuming to make at home, but even just the tofu tempeh mixture is pretty good.

                        Tempeh reubens are a big favorite however they're prepared. I've had them with the tempeh prepared all sorts of different ways - thick and steamed, thin and fried -- a bit drier.

                        Also, I love tempeh bacon, but I'm usually too lazy to make my own, so I just buy one of the commercially prepared varieties. Tempeh can be a bit hard to digest; if it gives you problems, steaming it before cooking it is supposed to help. Indonesians don't do this.

                        Homemade seitan sliced thin with bbq sauce makes a really good sandwich.
                        A while back, my wife made this recipe:
                        sliced it thin, and cooked it with this BBQ sauce recipe:
                        and some sauteed onions, served along with collard greens. It was really good.

                        Works great for asian "chicken" and "intestine" stir-fries. Get the Chinese style tofu intestine (long rolled tube of fresh seitan); to make gongbao chicken, quarter and dice the seitan "intestine" into cubes. Or, for a pretty standard veggie intestine stir-fry, slice on the bias and stir-fry with some light seasonings (ginger, splash of soy sauce and black vinegar, chili peppers and / or bell peppers).

                        Seitan comes in a lot of different shapes and textures, and it's not just a meat substitute. I think the dried type ('fu' in Japanese cooking; mian lun in Chinese cooking) can be interesting too, and it's convenient since it stores well.

                        Kao fu is a classic Shanghai appetizer made from the spongey style of wheat gluten. If you can get this type locally, either fresh or dried, or make your own, it's also excellent. I never make it myself, but there is usually black wood ear, shitake, bamboo (fresh, when it's in season) or lily bulb seasoned with star anise, soy sauce, and sugar.

                        Don't forget tofu skin (fresh, dried, or frozen, in various shapes), and different types / textures of tofu (pressed / "dry", deep-fried, pressed tofu "noodles", etc.). Frozen tofu can be a great meat analog, soaks up flavors well, and providies good texture in stews. Tofu skin, soaked and stir-fried with tomato or yellow garlic-chives makes a great "eggy" dinner dish. Rolled, pan-fried, and braised, it can be a good vegetarian "goose" or "duck".

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: will47

                          This is all so true. You really know what you're talking about.

                        2. Also, if you have a Chinese market near you, one cheap and great breakfast food... the little jars or cans of canned wheat gluten, usually with peanut . Makes a great savory porridge filling. Cook steel-cut oats or jook / congee, and serve with salt, the gluten, chili-bamboo (will usually be in the same section with the peanut gluten and other porridge tooppings), and some green onion. You can also buy wheat-gluten "puffs" ("you mian jing"), which I think are deep-fried and then dried. Despite being dried, they're often found in the refrigerated section. When dry, they are pretty large and round, but boiled / stewed for long enough, they have a nice squishy texture, almost like scrambled eggs. Great in soups or stews, or braised with curry sauce, Chinese barbeque sauce, etc.

                          Chinese markets also tend to have excellent canned wheat gluten products ("duck", "abalone", "chicken", etc.) - I find it's easy to get sick of the flavor, but it's really pretty good, and the price is much less than if you go buy packaged wheat gluten from Whole Paycheck. As far as fresh wheat gluten, you will usually just find the "intestine" ("mian chang") one and maybe fresh kao fu. The frozen section may also have some more heavily processed meat analogs.

                          1. I want updates too. :) Vowing to make my own seitan was a project that fell off my radar, but this was the recipe I'd intended to use: http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/homemad... The website also has a few recipes that use the already prepared seitan. But BabsW's recipe looks interesting--love the porcini addition. I have some time off coming to me next week, and this seems like a good time to give this a shot. Good luck, Tracy. I hope you report back

                            1. Thank you one and all. I am sorry to respond late to your suggestions. I will let you know as soon a I start experimenting. Thanks for laughing too.

                              1. As has been mentioned, I'd really suggestion making your own seitan. It's not that hard and it's really good. You can do ANYTHING with the flavors.
                                Here is my go to recipe, spices adjustable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wmNlH...
                                I generally steam it in logs, then slice and fry in oil until crisp. You can also stew it. Great for Italian Sausage sandwich with grilled peppers and onions.

                                My favorite tofu technique in marinate, braise, roast. It's basically what it sounds like.
                                Cut it into the shapes you want, then marinate it over night in something medium strong (I like lime juice, veggie stock and chilli powder but lots of possibilities here). Don't use anything too strong or it can get overwhelming (I made this mistake with lime juice. The tofu tasted like savory lime jolly ranchers).
                                Dump the tofu and marinade into a shallow dish and braise it on low until the marinade has basically evaporated (watch it to make sure it doesn't burn).
                                Drizzle the tofu with oil and roast on high until it is brown and crisp. I salt it at the roast stage because I find it hard to gauge at the other stages but whatever works.
                                You can then do whatever you want with you flavored tofu. I lime chilli lime tofu tacos, but you can use it in pasta, salads, sandwiches or just eat it with some veggies.

                                I don't really like tempeh not sure why...

                                Hope that helps!