Seitan (say-tahn) is a vegan meat substitute made from wheat gluten. The product is created by starting with a basic wheat flour dough that is repeatedly washed until all of the starch is dissolved. The result is an elastic pure gluten dough ball. The end product has a chewy or stringy texture that largely resembles meat. This wheat gluten product is used in vegetarian and macrobiotic cuisines. In fact it was a Japanese macrobiotic teacher whom developed the product in 1962.
By now you are probably wondering why anyone would want to eat something having the description above (as I sit here typing this I’m also starting to wonder that myself.) My defense is that since I’m not a big fan of tofu I thought I’d give Seitan a try. Perhaps I was intrigued by the name, it’s kind of funny. Actually it’s always my curiosity that gets the better of me, so most new products that cross my path have to be tried.
If you do a quick search on Seitan you’ll also find that Seitan is quite nutritious. It is a good source of protein, iron and selenium. Also you’ll see that the reviews are pretty good. People love that it looks like meat but isn’t, and that it can be used just about any way meat can. Another thing you’ll find is that Seitan comes in several varieties and forms. Unfortunately I ended up with the least appetizing form, the fluffy steamed kind.
After opening the Seitan package I took a small taste. Not bad. The taste wasn’t strong, the texture was like a fluffy bland meat substitute. Everything seemed
promising up until the fajitas finished cooking. By the end of the cooking process the Seitan had expanded, probably due to the water content from the bell peppers. The texture now resembled that of a sponge. Appetizing right? Regardless the taste wasn’t bad. Hubby is always up for trying new foods, but this one I feel bad about. As we sat down to dinner the texture was playing mind tricks with our taste buds. A few times I think I even heard a faint voice questioning why we were eating a well seasoned sponge. In the end we picked out the Seitan and ate only the peppers and onions. The salsa wasn’t too bad, it was just overshadowed by the sponge. I’ll definitely give it a try on real meat fajitas soon.
So why am I sharing a failed Seitan recipe? To give you a laugh, to show you that we all have kitchen failures, and perhaps to inspire you to improve the recipe. Here’s how I cooked the sponge, er, I mean Seitan.
(If you would like to publish my recipe on your website please quote Spicie Foodie as the recipe creator, and place a link back to the recipe.)
Papaya Habanero Salsa
1 small papaya, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2-3 red habanero or scotch bonnet chiles, stem removed (adjust to taste)
1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 large lemon or lime, juiced
small handful of cilantro
salt to taste
1. Blend all ingredients into a thick sauce/salsa. Taste and adjust as desired. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use. Give it a good stir before serving as it may have solidified a bit.
1 package of unseasoned Seitan
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
ground cayenne pepper*
3 small bell peppers
*spice amounts to taste
sour cream and any other sides you like
1. Slice the Seitan into strips, combine with all spices and set aside to marinade for 10 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan, cook the onions until soft and translucent. Add the peppers and Seitan to the pan, cook until peppers are to desired tenderness.
Serve the Seitan fajitas with flour tortillas and salsa.
Any of you out there brave enough to give Seitan a try? Do share your thoughts.