Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Debatin' Seitan

Seitan is a potentially contentious ingredient in vegan cooking. Some people love it, some people hate it. Others (mostly non-veg others) think that vegetarians should stop trying to replace meat and just get over it. But there are some more specific debates, too.

First of all, how the heck do you pronounce it? I put the emphasis on the first syllable, so the two words in my title rhyme. Others emphasise the second half, having say-TAHN instead of SAY-tn. Still more serve up say-Tan. I'm a SAY-tn person, for a few reasons. Mainly, I'm a lazy speaker and this is the pronunciation with the least effort required. But also, this makes the gluten-based vegan staple a homonym of Satan, the anti-christ, and I just think that's funny. Especially at Christmas. What can I say? I like irony.

Another issue is the boiled vs. baked debate. And these days there is steamed to complicate things even further. Which do you prefer? They each have their pros and cons, I think, in terms of ease of preparation and final results, but I'm partial to the baked varieties.

Andy and I always keep some small blocks of seitan in the freezer. Our favourites are the plain and chicken-style seitan recipes from Real Food Daily, which is easy to make, not overly chewy, and the recipe makes nearly two kilos. We defrost little bits of it to have on pizza, in pasta sauces, as an addition to stir-fries or burrito filling, and basically anywhere else that needs a bit of pizazz.

Like this basil-chilli seitan, full of veggies and spiciness.

We've also started a mini-tradition of having stuffed seitan roast for christmas. I love the Pecan Cherry Stuffing from Urban Vegan.

Susan V's seitan ribz are a great summery meal, especially when we make a double batch and freeze half for another night. We don't have a BBQ so we finish them off under the griller (broiler).

They can be adapted as well, like the time Andy topped them with a peanut-lime sauce instead of BBQ sauce. It was interesting, and not bad.

The other thing we try to keep in the freezer for quick meals are seitan-bean burgers. Originally inspired by Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon (itself a seitan controversy – bloggers were divided in their reviews of the cutlets), we've spun off with numerous bean and spice combinations. Here are Italian Chickpea Burgers.

And here is a Mexican Kidney Bean Burger. With spinach mashed potatoes and corn.

Do you like seitan? What is your favourite kind to make? And, the most important question of all, how do you say it?


Hannah said...

Same as you! SAY-tn. Though I very, very rarely get the chance to say it, as my mother's wheat allergy means that while I can sneak tofu and tempeh into the family dinner line-up on occasion, doing so with seitan would be disastrous indeed.

However, I am going to be house-sitting for most of April and May, so I might have a go at making some. Then I could actually answer the rest of your question here, rather than just rabbiting on. What fun THAT would be! :)

Anonymous said...

I say Sei-TAN. haha
I've only made baked once, boiling seems easier. WHat do you notice as the textural differences?

Vegan TV Presenter said...

I have never made SAY-tn and I feel like I am missing out! Keeping it frozen and on hand seems like a genius idea...think I will give it a go...thanks for the tip lady x

Vaala said...

Hmmm, I'm not a big seitan eater but definitely baked over boiled. Oh, and SAY-tn all the way!