Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chicken-style seitan almond bake and so much more…

Ooh, my friends, today I have so much to share! First, I have found the best, the absolutely most fantastic seitan recipe I have ever come across, and it is online. Second, I have taken this recipe and substituted okara for the cannellini beans, and it was a perfect success. This rivals my okara gnocchi for outstanding uses of okara and I am so thrilled about this I can hardly keep from screaming—well, perhaps I did scream a little, a quiet sort of scream that did not bring the neighbours running. The only downside is that 1 1/4 cups of okara is approximately the okara you get from one batch of soy milk, and added to the recipe I'm about to disclose, it makes over 4 pounds of seitan. This is a lot of seitan. But this seitan is worth making with cannellini, okara, navy beans, whatever. You know how in the past I've complained that, for me, eating seitan in a sandwich is like eating bread on bread—no more! This is like chicken without the body parts, Soy Curls with flavour, all my favourite foods rolled up together into a marvellous protein-rich package. What is the secret? Well, in my opinion, the secret is the large amount of chickpea flour.

Those who read this blog will already be aware that I am a huge fan of chickpea flour, or besan, but I've never seen this much of it in a seitan recipe. I tasted the batter and it was throat-stoppingly redolent of raw chickpeas. But you do end up cooking it, and I know it looks like shortbread, but oh, for the love of God, make this! You will be so happy!

The recipe can be found here and so the publisher at least has released it into the public domain, but since I had such a hard time printing it out, I reproduce it for you:

Chicken-style seitan
from The Real Food Daily Cookbook

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 1/2 cups gluten flour
1 cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups canned cannellini beans or okara
1/3 cup tamari
3 cups water

Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.

Stir the gluten flour, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, and salt together in a large bowl to blend (Zoa's note: make sure the chickpea flour doesn't clump; whisk it in well or, better yet, add it through a sieve: lumps will not incorporate during cooking). Puree the beans, the tamari, the remaining 1/2 cup oil, and the sautéed onion mixture in a blender until smooth, adding some of the water to create a smooth and creamy consistency.

Stir the bean mixture and the remaining water into the dry ingredients until a very wet dough forms.

Now at this point (and at the beginning) the Real Food Daily recipe gives rather complicated instructions about baking. I didn't bake my seitan; I steamed it, a la Julie Hasson, so you can check out the original for the baking instructions, but what I did was divide the dough into four pieces, roll up each piece in tinfoil, and steam the four rolls (stacked two on two log cabin style) for an hour and a quarter, shifting the bottom pieces to the top halfway through.

So once that was done, I actually finished up today's meal by putting together Mark's Chik'n almond bake from Irreverent Vegan, which I have been dying to try ever since I read his intriguing and very funny post about it. Yes, it's everything he claims it is! Plus, I didn't have to serve it with an old shoe since I had this superfantastic seitan to work with.

Served here with the Broccoli with capers and lumache from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, except I didn't have lumache so I used small shells instead. Lumache are medium shells, and in her book there is a pretty line drawing of pieces of broccoli nestled into the shells. My shells were too small for that, but if you'll notice, the capers fit in very nicely! (No, really, go back up and look, click on the image to enlarge it; it's too cute.) Here's the sauce the broccoli and pasta gets tossed with:

Plus, my own developing specialty, ribbons of carrot lightly fried with a little sea salt, plus some experimental ribbons of fried cucumber, which were surprisingly wonderful—why don't more people fry cucumber? I, at any rate, love it!


  1. This looks stellar! I'll certainly be trying this seitan recipe soon. If you're using okara, I assume you're make your own soymilk? I've been itching to get into this--do you have a soymilk maker you'd recommend? Any tips?

  2. Just came across your blog. Wow, such wonderful dishes and photographs!

  3. Thanks, Mark & Ms. V! I do make my own soymilk, with a SoyQuick machine, which I would highly recommend(mine is the "older" kind with the filter cup; the new filterless one looks great but as it appears my machine is going to last forever and I have a thing about replacing stuff that still works, I haven't tried it). Since you ask (and thank you for asking!) I do have tips! Next time I make a batch I'll blog them ;-)

  4. Thanks for the seitan recipe; I'm definitely going to try it.