Saturday, April 17, 2010

Testing the limits of chicken-style okara seitan some more

This post has two new recipes! I woke up this morning inspired by Tami's All-American Incrediburgers from her American Vegan Kitchen. I've made these burgers before, and pretty much the only way they could be more incredible would be if they could use up some okara.

And then I thought of all the okara seitan currently frozen in my deep freezer and thought...why not grind some of that up and use it in place of the TVP in Tami's recipe?

And then I decided to make chicken-style burgers rather than beef-style and felt a little foolish starting because basically I was adding cooked chicken seitan to raw chicken seitan and expecting some revelatory new product. But actually, the texture was really interesting, plus I discovered that steamed seitan sausages (at least my chicken-style ones) change texture in the freezer, in a good way (but more on that in another post).

I've posted about the All-American Incrediburgers already, and thought I would make mine somewhat smaller this time. In fact, the recipe I'm going to give makes a lot of seitan. If you made it all into little burgers like the ones at the top of this post, I'm guessing you would get about 20. I made 10, and then formed the rest of them into balls because I wanted to try steaming them freestyle as well as in packets. Here's what I did:

Zoa's chicken-style okara burgers
makes 20 small burgers

Dry mix:
1 1/2 cups gluten flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup ground roasted almonds
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups ground chicken-style seitan
1/2 onion, finely chopped

Wet mix:
1 1/2 cups okara, well squeezed
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup tamari
1 cup water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon, and then with your hands, until a moderately smooth, moderately stiff dough forms. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes for the gluten to relax so that it's easier to press out.

What I ended up doing was pressing the dough out into a large sheet around 1/2 inch thick, and then using a sturdy wineglass to cut out round shapes (which is what you see at the beginning of this post), but of course you can form your burgers any way you want to.

Wrap each of the finished burgers in its own little tinfoil packet (this is Tami's genius idea) and steam all the packets for about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your burgers. Mine didn't take a whole hour because they were so small.

Here's what the burger looks like right out of the steamer:

You can keep them in their packets and let them cool on the counter or in the refrigerator, or freeze them at this point. They will firm up considerably.

When you're ready to cook, brush both sides of the burgers with canola oil and grill or fry over medium-high heat. This was pretty good! It had a nice texture and a mild buttery flavour, a little less buttery than the chicken-style seitan alone, because I didn't add any extra chickpea flour, but very flavourful, and it held together beautifully.

I can't show you the inside of the burger because I'm lousy at taking pictures of things from the side; however, I then made some of the same seitan into balls, and steamed them. Here they are right out of the steamer. As you can see, nothing drastic happened to them in there:

I pan fried some of them and broke one open. They were tender but with an interesting, non-homogenous texture that I liked a lot. I will make both the burgers and the balls again, despite the extra work of grinding up cooked seitan first.

So by that time I was getting pretty tired of seitan and came upstairs to check the computer, and lo and behold, Mark over at Irreverent Vegan is also making seitan, in Perfect chicken caesar salad, to be precise! And dang, his looks awesome, and he has a technique in his post I haven't tried yet. And after this week's soy milk adventures I still had a cup of okara which I was even considering composting, but my conscience told me this was kismet, and that I must try it!

What follows is based on Mark's recipe, but it isn't that recipe because it includes a substantial amount of okara; also I have decreased the amounts but otherwise tried to follow Mark's as best I could, and was totally slavish in the matter of technique.

Mark-style okara seitan chick'n cutlets

Dry mix:
1 1/2 cups gluten flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt

Wet mix:
1 cup okara
3/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves, crushed or pressed
1 tbsp olive oil

Any very flavourful vegetable stock. I used a mixture of various powders I had around, including McCormick's vegetable stock, Bryanna's chicken-style broth powder, and some homemade poultry seasoning, plus 2 bay leaves.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together separately. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Knead into a uniform dough. My dough was very stiff.

Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

Now at this point Mark's new technique comes in. You take a golf ball-sized chunk of the dough, flatten it out a bit, put it on your clean counter, and lay a piece of waxed paper over it. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out under the waxed paper as thin as you can get it. I got mine pretty thin:
Mark says that when you peel off the paper, the dough will "stretch back," but I am finding that one of the interesting things about seitan with a whole lot of okara in it is that it doesn't really do that:

So now, fill a large pot with cold broth, and add any herbs you are using. As you make them, place the seitan pieces in the cold broth; the broth should cover the pieces. You can see that I eventually got over the novel experience of rolling seitan really really thin and made some thicker pieces so I could grill and slice them. Let them all sit there for about ten minutes, then bring the water to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and cover. Cook for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. They're ready to use (or freeze, in a little more of the broth).

By this time I had accumulated quite a bit of seitan, and I knew that the thick pieces would grill and slice nicely, but was curious about those thin little guys, so I brushed one of them with canola oil and placed it into the panini press. This is how it came out:

Kind of pretty, hey? But even more than that, it was crispy! Yes, it made a sound when I bit into a piece. I was so thrilled! That doesn't usually happen with seitan. How would I eat something like this? Well, cut it into pieces and put it into, oh, I don't know...a salad?

(But I didn't do that because this post is already long enough, and besides, I'm going out for supper, no naturally I just ate most of it plain.) The Mark-style seitan had a totally different flavour from mine, very herby from the broth it was cooked in. It was easy to make, and I'm sure it would hold up well under any kind of sauce. As he says in his post, it's they're intended to take on the flavour of the sauces and other foods they're cooked with. I love the rolling-pin-and-waxed-paper technique.

Now, however, I must put the gluten flour away for a while, for the sake of my sanity and because my deep freezer is full of seitan. There's just so much okara...


  1. All of it looks so could go into business with this kind of thing!

  2. What a genius way to use up some of that okara!

  3. I'm convinced! Must make soymilk...must make soymilk. Then I can make "Zoa-style Mark-style okara seitan chick'n cutlets"!

  4. Mark, get those soybeans a-soaking! I'll be following your adventures with the greatest interest.