Confession: I didn't eat tofu for the first two years I was vegan. This is funny to me now, as I love the stuff (I could easily eat it at three meals a day, that is, if I wasn't so focused on eating a balanced diet!) and because I was a former tofuphobe, I've created three tutorial videos about tofu for my comrades.
But this post isn't about tofu...it's about seitan...(seiten? I always struggle with spelling!) which took me exactly three years to try. Well, I suppose that's not completely true.
Shortly after I went vegan, I tried a "beefy seitan" recipe that was floating around the blogsphere. After traveling to no less than 3 stores to get ingredients (perhaps now it makes sense why I'm so obsessed with "every day" ingredients!) and cooking this "beefy" monster for some 10-hours...I hated it.
Some blog friends convinced me I just needed to try another recipe, so I tried the recipe in one if Isa's books--I forget which, and it didn't come out right (my fault I'm sure, not blaming Isa's recipe) so that was it. No praising seitan for me!
Then I met seitan again, (I ordered unsuspecting) and fell head over heals:
(This is "No Name" at grasshopper---there is nothing "healthy" about it. The seitan is deep fried and then coated in a sweet sauce--but it's DELICIOUS!)
After a few happy bellies (and a move across the country--away from the above seitan dish) I tried to make my own again. It was a DISASTER -- as in splattered all over me and most of my kitchen. I'm still scratching my head on that one.
Always the optimist, I tried a few more times, with varying recipes, until I ultimately concluded: seitan was not for me. To make anyway...
but then.... I starting writing my cookbook... and I kept thinking, wouldn't it be GREAT if I could include a seitan recipe!?I mean vegans LOVE their seitan!I shared my previous woes with my testers and many of them admitted to having the same problem -- they couldn't rock the at-home seitan either! I smelled a challenge...
I've mentioned once before how peculiar ideas sometimes come to me and if executed, I know they would either be fabulously awesome or disastrously gross.
My most recent "wild" idea was to cook seitan in beer.I had wanted to cook it in a nice, dark beer -- maybe Negro Modelo, but one thing this island is sorely lacking is good beer--or even a variety of beer. Everything is of the Amstel Light and Heineken persuasion...
I used Presidente, which comes from the Dominican Republic (I try to support my neighboring islands) -- and I'm glad I did. I think a light beer is key here--and as I was tweeting my experiment, @snarkyvegan echoed, saying it's been her experience that cooking (generally) with darker beers makes things bitter.
I started with this seitan recipe for "ribs" because I like the meaty texture you get from baking seitan, though I substituted in some chickpea flour because I thought it would give me more of a shaved meat/carnita texture. I also adapted my recipe for "mock beef broth" in my cookbook for the "wet mix" (and because I was dying to experiment with vegemite) but my regular broth recipe will do you right, too.
and then I cooked it in beer.
The result? FREAKIN' AMAZING. Not only is the flavor divine -- it really has a shaved meat... a burrito/fajita "chicken" texture... it ROCKS. I literally thought I was biting into something from Taco Bell---it was crazy!
Here are some pictures of the seitan process:
Freshly sliced after boiling in beer.
A closer look.
Shredding/cutting pieces off.
Out of the oven -- a little crisper.
Assembling... (lettuce, tomato, whole wheat tortilla, plus I spooned some of the "cooking juices" over top)