Friday, November 11, 2011


A tragic day in the kitchen.  Needless to say, I did not succeed in creating a white seitan.  Not by any means.  I didn't even succeed in creating a very tasty seitan.

Look for a lot of posts involving crumbled seitan in the future, is what I'm saying.


To the left are images of my carrot- and beet-based experimental seitans, pre-steaming.  They look rather promising, but the result was pretty bready and unappealing.  It was a learning day.

For the sake of others and their experiments, these vibrant colours fade in the steamer.  Also, rice flour is not a proper ingredient for steamed seitan, no matter how white it is.  Boiled, okay, but not steamed.

ON EDIT:  There was definitely something wrong with this batch of gluten flour.  Further experiments with recipes I've made before proved that it was adulterated with starch.  I did manage to make some excellent okara popcorn seitan with it, however (see sidebar for recipe), which worked equally well steamed and (surprise!) baked, but dissolved when boiled.  I guess the moral of that story is to bring some water with you when you go to buy and, if you can, moisten a little of the gluten flour between your fingers to ensure it glutenizes immediately instead of just turning into a floury paste.

I had high ambitions for today's meal.  It involved the beet risotto from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which she describes as "jewel-like".  This had its moments:

...but the end result was like something you'd find on an operating room floor:

Fairly tasty, however, though nothing like yesterday's mushroom one.  Check the beet and carrot spiral seitan!  Too bad it wasn't more delicious, or more brilliant, or something.  Zoa creeps away to her secret lab to try, try again.  Maybe I can figure out a way to isolate some soy protein or something...

I promise to post on the braised yuba in the very near future, as I've got another packet that I'll have to use soon.  Too humbling that some little dish I toss together in a hurry with miscellaneous bits of stuff turns out stupendous, while this agonized-over spread was so very...blah...


  1. It doesn't look as bad as you say, but I know you're disappointed because it didn't come out as you'd hoped. Seitan can be ornery that way. Last year my Thanksgiving seitan roast, while as beautiful as ever, made me think of tire rubber and cardboard. Strong teeth were required.

  2. Actually, I think it looks pretty awesome but I always put taste before looks. Anyhow, win some, lose some, I guess. Thanks for reminding me about the Deb Madison book. We have a lot of beets in our garden so some risotto would be a good idea.

  3. I could have dealt with the looks, but every part of this was just astonishingly tasteless. On the bready-ness of the seitan, I'm kind of wondering if it could partly have been an issue of the new gluten flour I was using. It didn't feel much like gluten at all until I had kneaded it for a while. Then it clung together properly, but spread out when I asked it to in a suspiciously easy fashion. The beet/carrot seitans didn't have any rice flour, just ground up beans and a little besan flour. Hmmmm. That does have potential as cutlets, however (okay, now I'm inspired again, you can't keep me down for long!). Anyway, I do have many uses for ground seitan, which is what it all is now, lots and lots and lots of it--

  4. Andrea, yes, at least I wasn't serving this to others. Your experience happens with me uncomfortably often--I make absolutely scrumptious meals all for myself, and then when I try to replicate them in a company setting, things start to go wrong...

  5. I somehow missed this post when you made it. I've had the same problem with colors fading away when steaming seitan, so I'm looking forward to the results of your further experimentation. Your plate as always LOOKS fabulous; I'm sorry the seitan didn't taste as wonderous as you'd hoped. I love the spiral anyway!