Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Seitanic Struggle: A Historical Rant.

Bird's Nest with added Roasted Gluten from Nhut Quang.  
I wish this place was closer to me!  
Why must I live near the other vegan Vietnamese restaurant, gosh?  Photo by Aaron.

At home.

The story of the first time I tried making seitan is on par with the infamous seitan as brains tragedy.  
I made the basic boiled seitan recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen and thought it was a beefy smelling blob and no one ended up eating it.  I recall throwing chunks into a tray of roasted vegetables and them going untoched.
I had the clever thought of making jerky with the remainder, but I couldn't bring myself to touch it anymore and that never happened.  
I'm still not a fan of my own boiled seitan but I have finally come to enjoy other's - like Isa's at June's Vegan Benefit Dinner at Sweetpea.  Go figure.

No Name from Grasshopper.  Photo by Uits.  

At Restaurants.

When dining out, I couldn't bring myself to like or explore many seitanic dishes until the past couple years.  The term 'wheat meat' did not tempt!  Why would I want to eat something trying to be meaty?
I would always opt for tofu, with bare exceptions - like the splendorously sweet No Name at Grasshopper in Allston, MA pictured above (remember my big long post about Boston last year?)  That was reasonably the only seitan dish I'd touch for years.  
I remember trying #69 - the Spicy Garlic and Peppers with Beef Style Seitan almost six years ago and thinking the texture was vile.  Same goes for a 'fake chicken' dish at Buddha's downtown, my local favorite back then - it was so close to the Emerson dorms!  

Back on topic, I don't think it was till I sampled the General Tso's off of my sister's dish at New Harmony in Philadelphia that I found another seitan I dug.  Granted, both this and the No Name are battered and sweetly sauced, but you can see the hope here.

Recipes and Evidence.

These days I not only order seitan at restaurants like Nhut Quang (their roasted gluten at top the of the post is like crack) and opt for the 'vegan chicken' at Vege Thai from time to time, I bake it, steam it and cook it at home.  I am a big fan of Veganomican's Seitan Cutlets and have made them twice in the 
past week!  
I enjoy this basic baked Chicken Style seitan loaf and have made awesome beer battered seitan strips with it, if I do say so myself!  My other blogged seitan dishes include Red Curry Seitan, Sundried Tomato Seitan O'Greatness, and many makings of Julie Hasson's steamed sausages
and variations.  There's still tons of badly prepared and served seitan out there, but I've finally gotten a taste for the tender and have fun making it at home.

The easiest and yummiest at-home seitan ever.  
This is Isa's Chorizo version of Julie's Sausages, from Brunch Testing.

Who's that peeking out of the broth?

Veganomican's Baked Seitan Cutlets

I've also been eyeing my girl Joanna's new recipe for Chicken Style Seitan Cutlets on Yellow Rose Recipes.  She's currently on hiatus from Portland and back in her home state of Texas, working on a new book!
Look at that!  
I had successful seitan for dinner last night....

Sliced and pan fried seitan cutlets, broccoli, sweet and spicy peppers, 
eggplant, garlic, spices, tamari, olive oil.  Over quinoa with hot sauce.
Throw everything you have in the fridge into a saucepan and go!

Here's take two of the Seitan Cutlets.  I upped the garlic through the recipe and added white wine, mushroom broth, oregano, ketchup, paprika and pepper to the broth.  Last night's version, not shown, included chili sesame oil and hoisin.  Exciting!


VeganView said...

What awesome photos, I can't really eat seiten, sometimes the texture is just too much for me. But these dishes I could definitely handle and enjoy!

JohnP said...

Seitan, my friend! How lovely you are in these photos....

funwithyourfood said...

I HATED seitan AND tempeh for the longest time. I'm just now starting to like them too. The way it's prepared makes such a huge difference. I haven't made my own seitan yet but i've learned how to cook with tempeh which is fantastic!

VeggieGirl said...

No seitan for me - I'm gluten-free :0(

Amey said...

Nice ode to seitan. I made those Vcon cutlets and they were horrible - all mooshy and spongy! I wonder what went wrong? I'll give 'em another try. Love the sausages though... love them!

JD said...

Ahh! Seitan, my favorite. Of course, I can't have tofu (soy protein and I don't get a long) so seitan it is.

Haven't tried the baked cutlets yet from VCON since don't have a 9x11 pan, do you think a half of a recipe would work in an 8x8 pan?

Tried the ones from YRR and they didn't quite work like I thought they would. However, they are good.

Have finally decided to fiddle with the simmered seitan in VCON and am using less soy sauce, and chicken seasoning to make it more chicken-like. Now just need to make it more like the YRR recipe and am set, since I only really need about a 1lb a week anyway.

Michelle said...

Oh god, this was funny and awesome.

I'm so glad you like it at Nhut Quang. You know I'll go anytime, seriously.

I should have ordered gluten stuffs for dazee to try -- what was I thinking?!

tofufreak said...

yum! seitan is awesome :D i love all the dishes you have featured :)

jelymo said...

has anyone told you those chorizo logs look like slice n' bake cookie logs? anyway, i've been having problems with my seitan being too waterlogged. maybe i should bake it after boiling to give it a meaty texture? that worked before. sometimes i just get too hungry!

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

I didn't realize you and seitan had such a history! What a fun post.

I'm the exact opposite of you. I'd get seitan in restaurants and never tofu.

Erica said...

I wish I could get on the seitan bandwagon, but it sits in my stomach like a brick and I don't care for it, anyway. Plus the idea of a bread sandwich just seems all weird and crazy to me. Darn my contrarian ways!

Anonymous said...

Seitan is starting to become my friend. We have had a couple of problems in the past but I think that is going to change!! All of your pictures look amazing!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I had the worst seitan in Chicago. I've been trying to cut back on gluten a bit, we rely heavily on it, but this makes me want to make some seitan!

Anonymous said...

I'm having a real struggle with seitan at the moment, I just can't get it right.
I will definitely try some of your recommendations before I throw the towel in! Thanks!