Tastes Like Chicken

29 Jan

Let’s just clear something up… vegan “meat” is weird. What the hell is tempeh? Why would anyone voluntarily eat tofu? And seitan…. I don’t even know how to pronounce that.

Seitan (pronounced say-tan not to be confused with Satan) is affectionately known as Wheat Meat. Whoever thought naming something “wheat meat” would sell products should go work at Whole Foods where they label their Chickpeas as Garbanzo Beans.

I suggest that all of the 18-35 year old vegetarians and vegans get together and rename all of the nasty sounding health food we eat. Nobody wants to eat something called Cheez or Chickn – right away you know you are eating something that isn’t quite the same as the original product. Novices also don’t want to eat Tempeh or Seitan at the very least because they can’t pronounce it.

Let me give you an example – would you rather drink something called Red Bush Tea or Rooibus Tea? They are the same thing but rooibus just sounds delightful whereas red bush sounds… less delightful.

But I digress, let’s get back to the world of fake meats. Frankly I have not enjoyed very many tofu, tempeh, or seitan meals and I’m not interested in eating the faux meat crumbles or faux chicken that you can get at the supermarket because they are processed foods and if you looked at the amount of sodium in those items you’d probably have a heart attack.

220 mg sodium per serving and over 20 ingredients

330 mg sodium per serving and over 30 ingredients

Now I’m not saying don’t eat these products  (I enjoy a smart dog every now and again) I’m told that they are good transitional foods for people who struggle giving up meat cold turkey. What I’m saying is be mindful of what you are eating, just because it’s vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Likewise, everything you get at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant may not be healthy. Last week, while out to eat, the waitress recommended we order Chipotle Seitan… it was AWESOME! It tasted like the bright red, BBQ pork that you get at a Chinese restaurant. I have no idea how it’s made but based on the texture and flavor I would guess that was fried and had a fair amount of sweetener in the sauce. Certainly not something you should dine on regularly.

I’ve tried pre-packages seitan before and thought it was awful. So awful in fact I had no intention of ever trying it again. The only way I can describe it is like eating a sponge… only worse. For some reason, the restuarant seitan didn’t taste spongy at all. I wondered if it was because their seitan was homemade. I had to find out for myself so I decided to pony up and make some from scratch.

Overall the experience was good – it was easy to make and tasted pretty good, but I won’t lie to you, I felt like I was a mad scientist working the elasticky dough that was supposed to turn into a meat-like product.

Bottom line, if you are going to try making seitan from scratch you might want to give this recipe a try – it was quick, easy, flavorful, and I licked my plate clean.

Chicken-Style Seitan (adapted from Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

1-1/2 tsp No-Chicken Broth Powder*

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups No-Chicken Broth*

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1-1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning Mix *

1 tsp granulate onion powder

salt and pepper, to taste

*see below for recipe

  • In a mixing bowl, combine vital wheat gluten, no-chicken broth powder, and water, stirring until a dough forms.
  • Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead for 1 minute, then set aside.
  • Combine no-chicken broth with nutritional yeast and seasonings in a pot, stirring to incorporate.
  • Return to dough and cut into strips, breasts, or any other shape, being mindful that it will more than double in size during cooking.
  • Bring broth to a boil and add dough.
  • Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Save any excess liquid left in the pot.
  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a cookie sheet.
  • Once dough is finished cooking on the stove, bake for 20-30 minutes (flip halfway), until a golden skin has formed.
  • To make a gravy, add up to 1 cup of non-dairy milk to the leftover cooking liquid then heat over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Note: you can find vital wheat gluten residing in the flour section of the grocery store.

No-Chicken Broth Powder (adapted from Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp onion powder

1/2 Tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp sage

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp parsley

  • Combine all ingredients together and grind into a fine powder.

* To make no-chicken broth for the seitan recipe above mix together 2 Tbsp of the no-chicken broth powder with 2 cups of warm water.

Note: I keep a coffee grinder on hand just for grinding spices and flax seeds.

Poultry Seasoning Mix (adapted from Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

1 Tbsp dried rosemary

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp sage

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp dried parsley

  • Combine all ingredients together and grind into a fine powder.


And there you have it, a meal that looks good enough to be served at a Bob Evans Restaurant.

Chicken-Style Seitan w/ Gravy served with Maple Roasted Carrots, Caulipots, and Steamed Green Beans.

~ Happy & Healthy Eating


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