Cooking with Seitan and an Old Fashion Stew Failure

If you are just now tuning in you may not know that I try to avoid eating or cooking large quantities of processed soy (Soymilk, tofu yada yada etc.). I have had a pattern of not feeling well after consuming soy or soy products. Unfortunately this leaves me with a big void to fill when I’m trying to get enough vegan protein in my diet. Enter seitan a high protein, dense, chewy “meat-like” texture derived from wheat protein.

Photo from GreenPlanet.com

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At first bite seitan had me convinced we could be friends. Not only are the nutritional stats great but the taste and texture simply shocked me. The taste is beef like with a hint of earthy flavoring. The texture is chewy and dense (both things that tofu lack!). How is it that this is made of wheat protein?!?

Seitan:                                       Tofu:
Per serving, 85g
Calories: 90                              Calories: 98
Fat: 1g                                        Fat: 5G
Protein: 18G                             Protien: 10G
Carbs: 3G                                  Carbs: 3G

When I first spotted this little vegan nugget at Whole Foods I found it in a variety of shapes and textures ideal for making “faux-meat” recipes, cubed, strips, ground, chicken style and many more pre-flavored options.  My mind literally went nuts. But the first recipe I knew I had to tackle was stew.

I am not ashamed to say that in the last 11 or so years of not eating beef the only things I have felt deprived of are prime roast and stew.  However I don’t think it is the meat that I miss. It is the thick au jus and the soft slow cooked veggies that really call my name.

So this weekend I attempted to tackle stew. Using none other than Miss. Paula Dean’s Old-Time Beef Stew recipe as a base. Here is what her recipe called for:

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

My first substitution was the beef obviously, I used cubed seitan. Secondly I used 2 cups veggie “chicken” broth, and 1 cup of V8 juice for liquids… I think this was the main reason my stew went wrong. I should have used a “beef” broth or a mushroom broth for a darker more hearty base instead of the salty “chicken” broth.

Also is it just me or is no stew complete without lima beans! When my mom made stew for us growing up she used to add extra lima beans so we wouldn’t argue over who got more than the other!

Cooking with seitan tip: Seitan soaks up a lot of liquids and extra soaking time can cause its chewy dense texture to get soggy. I learned that in this test recipe because after 5 hours of cooking my seitan in the slow cooker it was soggy. If you are cooking a slow cooking dish add the seitan towards the end of cooking. It will still grab the flavors but not soak up all the moisture!

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It doesn’t look too bad to start with right? A dish loaded with veggies plus my new favorite cubed Seitan all added in with Paula Dean’s Old-Time Stew spices… Unfortunately even though it looks spot on, the taste was off :(

stew2

So here is what I used, just don’t try this at home. This stew is still a work in progress!

  • 1 Package Westsoy Cubed Seitan
  • 2 Veggie Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup V8 Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Clove Garlic Chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Medium White Onion Chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • Dash of Ground Cloves
  • 3 Carrots Chopped
  • 3 Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 4 Small Red Potatoes
  • 1 Small Can Lima Beans

I added all the ingredients to my crock pot at once and let it cook on low for 5-6 hours. In the end I took out the bay leaves before serving.

stew1

So why am I giving you a failed recipe? Well first off it still tasted great. Just not quite stew like. Secondly I wanted to show you how hard, difficult and costly it can be to learn to cook with a new ingredient even when your supposed to know what you’re doing. So don’t lose motivation when an experiment goes wrong!

Great recipes are made through trial and error.

I plan to do more research on vegan stew and hope to report back to you soon. Have you ever tried to make vegan stew? What have you tried to make with seitan?

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About rebacox

Pseudo athlete and vegan, learning to love all the imperfections in life. Follow me in my journey, training for races (a half marathon in all 50 states to be exact) and my adventures in the kitchen!
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