Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chorizo Seitan

Seitan ("say-tan") is a wheat meat. It's made from the gluten in flour. Seitan is low in calories, low fat (zero saturated) and is high in protein. It originated in Asia centuries ago & it is a favorite faux meat in our home. It can be used in countless dishes & it's an excellent source of protein. Seitan can be purchased pre made, you can purchase vital wheat gluten flour & make your own (as this recipe requires), or you can extract your own gluten from flour (which is messy, but a fulfilling task). Generally, seitan is brewed. Once made, it can be used in any method of cooking (fried, baked, roasted, grilled...), but this recipe requires baking it in a water bath. Once baked, it can be used in any recipe that calls for spicy sausage/chorizo.

I'm Portuguese & French, and was raised by (and in a city largely populated by) Portuguese folks. The difference between Portuguese & Spanish is minimal, from language to cuisine. Both have a version of chorizo (for Portuguese, it's chourico) so if you liked one or the other, you should definitely try this! Between flavor, texture, ease & cost (all compared to pre-made vegan chorizo), the payoff is truly worth it. (Please be advised that you may have to adjust the spiciness. As is, it's pretty darn spicy. My beloved finds the full 1/2 tsp of cayenne to be too hot, but I like it that way.)

Now, for a sausage like texture, it just can't be reached through the traditional brewing method. I found a recipe that called for it to be baked, which got me very excited, but it left one side super crusty (and it left me feeling bummed out). But then I thought, try using a water bath...and it worked! That was one of the greatest kitchen discoveries I've ever come across. I'm definitely not a chef, but I sure did feel like one.

Seitan Chourico*

Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour; don't pack it down (Not to be confused with high gluten flour. I use Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten. You can find it in the natural section of many grocery stores, co-op's, & health food markets.)

2 TB nutritional yeast flakes (nicknamed "nooch." It's not an active yeast. For those of you unfamiliar with nooch and new to veganism, I suggest trying to find a co-op or health food store/market where you can purchase it from bulk bins... you will use that much of it. Purchased that way, it's super cheap. BTW, it's also very good for you. It's got B vitamins, sometimes including B12, and is high in protein)

2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or kosher)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

Wet Ingredients
3 TB water
2 TB ketchup
1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 TB canola

Preheat oven to 325° F

In a medium to large mixing bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl, whisk all of your liquid ingredients.

Add the liquid to the dry &, with a fork, mix everything well. Then get your hands dirty and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. It should become elastic & spongy. Let it rest while you clean your hands & prep your pans.

Put a glass loaf pan into the center of a brownie pan or roaster (2" sides) & fill the outer pan about half way full with water.

Now form your dough into a link (about 7" - 8" long).

Wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, twisting the ends. Don't worry about making it too perfect. Place the wrapped link inside of the dry glass loaf pan & bake it for 90 minutes.

I recommend turning it after 60 minutes (this method won't give it a thick crust, but I like to make sure it cooks as evenly as possible). Also be sure to check the water level. If it evaporates, then you're looking at crusty city.

When it's done, unwrap & let it cool completely (no cheating!).

After cooling, you can re-wrap it in plastic or foil (or a tightly sealed container. It's greener so it's my preference) & store it in the refrigerator for when you're ready to use it. It also freezes well so if you don't use it up in about 5 days or so, divide it into portions & store it in the freezer.

YAY, you've just conquered seitan! \o/

*Once finished, try slicing some into 1/4" chucks & cooking it up in some olive oil & pickled (hot) red peppers (to taste. Don't kill yourself), in a cast iron pan, with some chopped green peppers. Serve it on soft crusty bread or over rice. WOW! Totally brought me back to my childhood.

My wonderful friend, Leinana, has also featured this recipe a couple of times on her blog, Vegan Good Things, so if you want more tasty suggestions for using this seitan, I recommend trying her Mexican pizza and her Louisiana style shrimp & grits. Once you make this seitan, please come back and share the ways that you've used it!


  1. Great blog!! We've been buying chorizo and seitan ready made from the store, but yer great pics and recipe make my tiny plastic co-writers and I wanna try it ourselves.
    It was so cool meeting you guys at VegFest today. The photo on here of you and Buddha puts an automatic smile on my face. Living in the 'burbs, we don't always meet people who share this passion for a humane diet so you two were a life-affirming breath of fresh air.