Seitan used to be one of those things I’d eat on rare occasions, as I was never a big fan of its taste. I liked its meaty, slightly chewy texture, but I felt I never marinated or seasoned it the right way, as everytime I’d prepare it, it would end up tasting a bit too bland. The only way I could eat this source of vegetable protein would be on a spaghetti bolognese sort of dish, where I’d grind it and cook it in unreasonable amounts of tomato sauce. But then I’ve bought The Millenium Cookbook and I found out I could make my own seitan, and add to it as much flavor as I wanted to. The original recipe from the book, has curry and spices such as cumin and coriander as dominant flavors. I’ve made that recipe a hundred times around here, until I started playing around with it a bit more. The recipe for the seitan sausages I’m sharing with you today, has dried herbs and tomato sauce as “flavoring agents”, to make it more of a provençal-inspired sort of thing.
As far as the preparation goes, let me tell you that seitan making has no special technique at all, and I’m sure that if you attempt at making it, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is. On the other hand, I bet that by the time you’re preparing it, you’ll have a lot of other ideas on how to flavor it differently. I’ve made a couple of notes on that too: adding seaweeds such as dulse or wakame to the gluten dough could be interesting, as well as finely cut vegetables, for a more distinct texture. On the same hand, I bet that adding a coulpe of drops of liquid smoke to the dough, would definitely please even the most conservative meat eaters out there. I added the sausages today to this simple vegetable stew, but feel free to try these in pasta sauces, pizzas, or in whatever dish you might think they’re a good addition to. The possibilities are endless, really, and I’m sure you can come up with better ideas for using it than I do. ; )
Simpe Vegetable Stew with Homemade Seitan Sausage
For the Seitan Sausage
(makes 4 sausages)
2 cups (250 grams) gluten flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 large white onion, cut in half
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup water
4 cups light stock
3 tablespoons tamari
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
4 pieces of cheesecloth of 30×30 cm each (note: make sure the holes of your cheesecloth are very close. otherwise, you might have to double or triple the amount of cloth used)
1. In a large bowl, combine the gluten flour, dried herbs, garlic powder, and salt.
2. In another bowl, mix 1 cup of water with the olive oil, tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon of the tamari.
3. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and mix until you have a firm and elastic dough. Kneed the dough for 5 minutes, making sure there’s no flour left on the bowl.
4. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. With your hands, roll out each portion into a log about 8 centimeters long, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfectly shaped – while cooking, the sausages will plump and get a perfect cilindric shape.
5. Cut 8 pieces of kitchen twine of about 6 centimeters long each. Place a piece of cheesecloth in your table or kitchen counter, and roll it tightly around one piece of the dough. Tie the ends of the sausage with kitchen twine (using one of the cut pieces for each end), to seal the sausage in the cheesecloth – it’s important that the dough is really tight and properly sealed, or it might fall apart while cooking. Repeat this proceeding with the remaining pieces of dough.
6. In a large pan, add the 4 cups of stock, garlic cloves, onion, and 2 tablespoons of the tamari, and bring the liquid to a boil. Then, add the sausages. Reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the sausages are cooked through. Discard the onion and garlic cloves.
7. Remove the sausages from the pan, let them cool, and carefully remove the cheesecloth. The sausages will keep, stored in an airtight container with the cooking liquid, for up to 1 week.
For the Vegetable Stew
(serves 4, generously)
1 large aubergine, cubbed
1 large zucchini, cubbed
1 medium sized red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons red chili pepper, minced (with seeds)
1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and cubbed
1 and ½ seitan sausages (about 200 grams), sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup red wine
4 tablespoons tomato sauce (canned is fine)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped coriander, for garnish
1. With the help of a mortar and pestle, crush the coriander seeds.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the garlic, chilli, and coriander seeds, and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
3. Add the zucchini, aubergine, and tomato cubes, as well as the wine and tomato sauce, and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and slightly overcooked. Add the seitan sausage, give the stew a good stir, and cook for additional 5 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, garnishing each serving with chopped coriander.
The recipe for the homemade seitan sausages is inspired by the Millenium Cookbook, published by 10 speed press, in 1998