Chris Perrin so outclasses me in the kitchen… He’s a columnist for BIAO Magazine, writes on food for KC Generations and KC Wellness magazine, and — starting next week — he’ll be flaunting his kitchen skillz on the Well Fed Network, at Grows & Grocers, Paper Palate, and EdibleTV. Chris has a cook’s certification from the Kansas City Culinary Institute and (wouldn’t you know it?) he’s working on a vegan cookbook exploring the mysteries of seitan. Heh. If he keeps this up, we’ll all be eating healthy — and loving it!
Enjoy! ~ Jen
Many people have never heard of seitan, one of the more versatile vegan meat substitutes. Sometimes called wheat meat or Buddha food, it is formed by taking the gluten (proteins) from milled wheat, kneading it with water, and simmering the resulting dough in broth. Oh, and it is pronounced “SAY-tan” like everyone’s favorite Biblical bad boy. Which means I get a lot of weird looks when I start saying how awesome it is.
But the thing is, seitan (the food, not the archdemon) is a fantastic go-to ingredient for everyone because it’s high in protein, low in fat and if cooked properly, it has a texture and flavor very much like meat. Which is why I used it to make gyros when I was craving Greek.
Mediterranean restaurants are often vegfriendly and while I love hummus, dolmades and falafel, I often find myself sitting next to people blissfully munching on meat-stuffed gyros and I wanted some! This recipe was the result. It is a great meal to prepare the night before and take for lunch the next day. Even better, for picky children, quickly stuff the seitan inside a pita and top with salsa or hummus. They’ll never know the difference.
1 package of seitan
1 cup of broth (optional)
3 ounces of olive oil, preferably Greek
½ teaspoon of oregano, preferably Greek
¼ teaspoon of thyme
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of white pepper
1 lime, juiced
Salt to taste
Some seitan is sold as stir fry strips which are about an eighth of an inch thick. If you can’t find stir fry strips, cut your seitan into one-eighth thick inch pieces. This will allow the seitan to cook completely and feel more like meat.
Next, anytime I cook seitan, I like to simmer it for 5-10 minutes before sautéing or frying it. I find that it makes the seitan less firm and again makes it feel more like real meat.
Lastly, preheat a skillet over high heat, then add olive oil. Wait until the olive oil is blazing hot before adding all of the ingredients except the lime juice and the salt. Sauté the seitan until it is well browned on both sides. Add the lime juice and cook for another thirty seconds, then check for salt. It may need a pinch or two, especially if the broth was low sodium.
Serve with whole wheat pita, hummus and salsa that has been kicked up with roasted red peppers and a little more olive oil and you’ll never miss the fact that you’re not eating meat.
A number of companies are turning seitan into really good cold cuts, but they tend to be dry. For those not willing to slather their sandwiches in mayonnaise or mustard, Lightlife has a product called Fakin’ Bacon Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips made from tempeh (a soy-based protein.) Lightlife says they are supposed to replace bacon, but their deeply smoky flavor and elegant sauce propel them far past mere bacon. Put them on a sandwich, add a little mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce and you have an instantly delicious BLT.
For more of what is going in Chris’ lunchbox, on his dinner table, and on his party menus, as well as thoughts on food and culture, food in the media, and even the occasional recipe featuring meat, check out Chris’ food blog, Blog Well Done.