With thousand island mayo and pickles
by Gareth Hodgson
When telling people that I don't eat meat anymore, the most common response I get back has to be “Do YoU nOt MiSs Bacon?”. However, I have to say that the thing I truly miss the most is chicken! Roasted, deep fried, baked, poached or highly processed with 12 other ingredients that I can't pronounce and formed into the shape of a T-Rex, I just love chicken. Whilst on the hunt for the perfect veggie chicken burger a few years back, I was recommended the plant-based American diner V Rev in Manchester - and that's when I was first introduced to seitan. I couldn't believe there was a way of making mock meat from scratch without crazy ingredients or it tasting like dust.
This sandwich fills the chicken shaped hole in my heart every time, and there is so much room for playing around with this recipe that you can tweak it to suit whatever mood you're in. The trick to making seitan taste so good is building layers of flavour from the very start. Unlike real meat, without seasoning seitan can be very bland (much like tofu) so really go heavy and be bold with your flavours!
Seitan products are becoming much more accessible as more and more people start incorporating plant based foods into their diet. However I would say making your seitan from scratch is so much tastier and cost efficient. Before you look at the recipe you may need to take a quick trip to your local health food store or Holland and Barret. The two main ingredients are vital wheat gluten and soy flour. Vital wheat gluten is the key protein from wheat that gives bread its springy texture, and soy flour is ground dried soy beans. The combination of both these products give your seitan a great ‘meaty’ texture as well as being a high protein meal.
These ‘chicken’ patties are really worth the work you put in so really don't be put off if you've never made mock meat.
Top tip: you can prepare the plain seitan up to 3 days in advance and store them in the fridge in an airtight container submerged in the stock they were cooked in until you are ready to use them. They will just continue taking on flavour!
For the Seitan:
150g Vital wheat gluten
40g Soy flour
250ml vegetable stock
4 tsp Garlic powder
2 tsp Mustard powder
2 tsp Sage
2 tsp Thyme
4 tsp Celery salt
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Basil
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Chilli powder
Salt and black pepper (to taste)
You will also need
1 large saucepan filled with weak vegetable stock
For the coating:
100g Plain flour
75ml soy milk
½ of the spice mix
10ml apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
1. Mix vital wheat gluten and soy flour along with half of your spice mix in a large bowl. If you would like a more consistent texture for your seitan I would recommend blending your spices into a smooth powder, but this isn’t essential.
2. Add your vegetable stock to the dry ingredients and mix well. This is a rather tough dough at first so get your hands in that bowl! You don't need to knead the dough but make sure it is all mixed in.
3. Leave the dough to sit in the bowl for around 10 minutes to allow the gluten to rest and absorb the stock - this will also make the dough easier to shape later.
4. Whilst the dough is resting, mix all the dry ingredients together for your coating.
5. Now it's time to shape your dough! Separate the dough into 6 to 8 pieces and form them into rough balls. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ½ inch patties. This may seem a little thin but they will absorb more moisture later on so you don't want them too thick.
6. Place your stock on the heat and bring to a boil.
7. Place all the patties into the saucepan, reduce heat down to a simmer and allow to cook for around 20 minutes.
8. Remove the patties from the water and allow them to cool.
9. Now it's time for coating your patties! This can be a little messy but just remember to try and keep one hand for wet and one hand for dry. You will need to mix your soy milk and vinegar in one bowl and flour and spices in another.
10. Dip the patties into the wet mix, then into the dry, back into the wet and for a final coating, into the dry. Place the coated pattie to the side and repeat with all.
11. Place around 5 inches of vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan, or if you have a deep fat fryer, and bring to 175°C.
12. Place the patties one at a time into the oil and cook until deep golden brown. If you are cooking them all at the same time, I would recommend placing them into an oven on low heat once they are cooked to keep them nice and crispy.
Once they're all cooked sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy however you like!
I really love a good American style chicken sandwich so I'm placing my vegan ‘chicken’ pattie in a beautiful toasted bun with dill pickles, crunchy lettuce and homemade vegan thousand island mayo. I made my own mayo by mixing the following ingredients, using our aqua faba vegan mayo from our last recipe!
Thousand island mayo:
5 tbsp vegan mayo
1 tbsp pickle juice
2 tsp mustard
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp finely chopped pickle
½ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
Gareth is an enthusiastic trained chef and barista with a passion for making his life in the kitchen more sustainable. He is often pruning his jungle of houseplants or finding something else add to his “fermentation station” at home. Find his delicious chickpea flatbread recipe here, and follow his instagram @minimalist.barista!