Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lemon seitan (of genius)

I guess it's about time I defined my terms.  "Of genius" when applied to one of my recipes means I don't believe that I can ever improve upon it.  Plain old recipes, yes, they can be improved, but "of genius" recipes have, in my world, hit perfection. 

So welcome to perhaps the best seitan you'll ever eat!

How did it begin?  Well, it began with me trying to replicate the texture of the (to me) extraordinarly beautiful commercial seitan "duck" recently featured on the Post Punk Kitchen.  Total failure. 

However, I did manage to turn it around.  I've been doing a series of experiments lately with my new miracle additive, urad flour, and I wondered what would happen if I added it to seitan.  I incorporated it into kimchi pancakes this morning and it was, I have to admit, brilliant, but I didn't take any pictures so that post will have to wait.  My seitan experiment today was:

1 cup gluten flour
3 tbsp urad flour
1 tbsp rice flour
with enough cold water to form into a ball

This turned out to be a lucky mix, and I wound up with a seitan that was very, very white, and I've been looking for a white seitan recipe (to sub for chicken) for some time.  Seitan with these additional ingredients was not rubbery at all, but just firm yet tender.  It also has no taste, so this is a recipe you want to use in a highly-spiced marinated and/or braised dish, and not, for example, as cutlets.  I cut the ball of seitan into thin slices and pulled them into pieces, like this:

Boil those pieces for five minutes, and they turn into this:

Ooh, still so white!  Encouraged, I looked around for recipes that would take advantage of this no-colour bonus, and lucked out.  Vegan friends, if you make just one seitan recipe this year, it should be this one.  I promise you, you won't be disappointed!

Lemon seitan
serves 2

1/2 lb white seitan (of the kind shown above; the seitan recipe above will make about three times as much as you'll need for this recipe)
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sake
1 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, put through a press
1 tbsp cornstarch
oil for shallow frying

1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp roasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Place the cooked seitan in a bowl, and add all of the ingredients listed in the first batch up to and including garlic.  Mix, and set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of your meal.

When you're ready to go, heat some canola or peanut oil in a wok or small skillet for shallow frying.  It needs to be good and hot--mine was about 8 out of 10 on the possible hotness scale of my stove.  While it's heating, stir the cornstarch into the seitan mixture.  Once the oil is hot, tip everything in and let it fry on high heat.  When it's golden and crispy, take it out of the oil and set aside momentarily:

Pour away the remaining oil.  If you've done all this right, this oil will be clear and re-usable.  Try not to eat all the seitan now, though you may be tempted, because it's just going to get better.  The prudent cook has already mixed together the lemon sauce ingredients (lemon juice to cornstarch above).  Tip that into the hot wok and mix for a few seconds until it begins to thicken.  Add the seitan back into the wok, and stir until hot:

And serve immediately.  Lemon seitan.  So good it's practically candy.

I served it with a Burmese salad from The Asian Vegan Kitchen, except that I didn't have most of the salad ingredients and ended up putting the dressing over sliced avocado and tomato and grated cucumber.  It was awesome too, but I don't want to overwhelm my readers with awesomeness, so that will have to wait for another day.  Suffice it to say that this altogether made a perfect meal and I can't imagine there could be anyone out there who wouldn't have relished it as much as I did.  Bon appetit!


  1. I made seitan last night and I added urad flour to the recipe. I might have added chickpea flour instead, but I was out, so I used the urad, hoping for great texture like you got in your dumplings. (I was planning a long simmer.) I wanted red seitan so I also added smoked paprika and tomato paste, along with other seasonings. The texture was amazing — best ever.

  2. There is something about it, for sure. I was thinking the same thing as you when I added urad flour to my seitan. Chickpea flour would have given it a wonderful buttery taste (and a somewhat yellow colour), but I was so thrilled with my white seitan. Your red seitan also sounds very good, however. And pretty, too!

  3. Whoa. Of genius indeed. It looks like more than just vegans would enjoy this dish! Well done. If only I had the ingredients on hand.

  4. So now I need to buy a bag of Rice Flour! Oy!

  5. This looks so good! My mouth is watering. I personally think everything you post is "of genius", but I will definitely take your advice and make this seitan!

  6. Wow, that looks amazing! I'm just getting into making seitan myself and this is pure genius! I'll have to look for that urad flour. Thanks! :-)

  7. Thanks, Katharine. You don't really need *all* the ingredients, in my opinion. Read on...

    Shenandoah, rice flour comes in tiny little bags that cost about a dollar each, but I'm not convinced you need it. You just need something to cut the rubberiness of plain seitan, whether it be rice flour, wheat flour, ground beans, whatever.

    Rose, you are too nice! I hope you do make this recipe, though, and enjoy it as much as I did.

    Chow, I've been finding that, especially with Asian recipes, it isn't necessary to get too fancy with the seitan itself--what it's cooked in is way more important. Even if you don't have urad flour, I'd try it with besan or wheat flour or whatever...the plain seitan with nothing added is, however, pretty tough, so mix some kind of starch back in before you cook it.

  8. This looks incredibly good - I think I'm going to have to make it this week.

  9. Hi, i'm french and tried the marinade with some home made seitan : it was delicious ! I made a link to this page from my blog, because i wrote an article on seitan, i hope it is ok for you. But what is "Ural" flour ?

  10. Hi, Yate:

    Your lemon seitan looks even better than mine! Thank you for the link. Urad flour is just ground, husked dried urad beans, like chickpea flour or besan is from chickpeas. But if you're using homemade seitan and not making it from gluten flour, you don't need the urad because your seitan will be very tender.

  11. I do it from gluten flour, it's really easier. Thank you for the compliment. I looked in wikipedia and found thar Urad bean was in french "Haricot urd". I'll look if i can find some, but I usually use chickpea flour and arrowroot, and in fact, I think they must have the same effect.

  12. ÔMG!!!!
    am i just hungry or is this just a perfect looking and tasting meal!!!

  13. Hello Zoa,
    I saw this post in December and have been meaning to try to get to making it but instead I used your ratios as the basis for making amazing vegan pork dumplings for the Chinese New Year! I am going to try to post that soon and will do a pingback to this post but just wanted to share with you! I still intend to make this some time when I'm feeling adventurous enough to deep fry : )

  14. Hi, Dawne, and thanks for your comments. I wish there was some way to get around deep frying in this recipe as well! I did, however, do it in a tiny pot, and so didn't need all that much oil. Vegan seitan dumplings, mmmm...

  15. Found this during a mad search for white seitan. Worked out beautifully with a few tweaks. Using oiled kitchen shears gave me a more consistently even cooked product. I also found [courtesy of Millennium Restaurants cookbook] the magic to perfect seitan, is to poach and not simmer for shorter periods. 40 minutes poached is the magic number. Used it for Chiken Satay banh mi sandwiches with peanut sauce and pickled vegetables for dinner. The texture was perfect, and due to the fact there was no additional seasoning, it soaked up the flavor of the sauce perfectly.

  16. Hi zoa, I was wondering if you use high gluten flour or vital wheat gluten. I made this tonight using vital wheat gluten, urad flour, and brown rice flour and it wasnt as white as yours. Maybe it was the brown rice flour? Looking forward to your answer cause I really want white seitan!!! Thanks a bunch

  17. Hi, I was wondering if you could post the instructions on how to make this white seitan?? You only have the 3 ingredients up there: gluten, urad and rice flour.......but no instructional on how to make the actual white seitan. Though there is the recipe instruction posted, the instruction for the actual white seitan is not here. THANK YOU!! =)

  18. Maresolaris RotterdamSeptember 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Simply fantastic. Very easy to make (although the seitan/urad mixture became VERY sticky at first and really tricky to handle. When sliced things worked out fine and I was able to "pluck" little bits and peaces. The lemon-sauce was lesser in volume than I expected and I hoped for the best and it came out perfect. I served this lemon seitan with steamed paksoi and spinache and rice. Simply fantastic, I have to say it once more ;-)