I have not eaten chicken for about 17 years. In fact, I think I have reached the point where I have not eaten meat for as long as I did eat it. However, being vegan has challenged me a bit more in the kitchen and I have been really interested in making my own seitan. I also really like junk food. Whilst I am perfectly happy with a spinach, avocado and whatever smoothie, I still have a junk food itch to scratch.
I had a day of bad weather so I started out on this. Took longer than I thought it would but it is really worth it. Next time, I might plan ahead and make the seitan on a different day. If I did that, I could probably get it all done in about 30 mins to an hour.
For the seitan:
There are loads of recipes for seitan and I am working my way through them, learning as I go. For this recipe I tried one by Isa Chandra and because it was a big batch I tried a couple of different ways of cooking it. I think either way would work and I would definitely try the boiled method for this recipe next time.
I followed the recipe by Isa Chandra up to the point of cooking. At that point, I separated the seitan dough in to two batches. With one, I followed the recipe, gentry cooking the seitan in stock. This was the most successful of my attempts so far. It is really, really important not to let it boil. I got all tech about it and dragged out the jam thermometer. I kept it between 94 and 98 degrees.
Anyway, for this particular version, I took the other half of the seitan and formed it in to small nuggets. Keep them on the small side because they will expand on cooking. I put them on an oiled baking tray and covered them with tin foil and baked for 20 – 30 mins at 180oC. Keep an eye on them, they are only small so it won’t take much to burn them. My thinking with this was that it keep them dry and therefore make the coating stick better.
If you don’t fancy making your own seitan or you have your own preferred product or recipe, you could just use that. If you are still searching for that perfect recipe, give Isa’s recipe a go.
For the coating:
I had to go deep in to the meat world for this one, so you don’t have to. The things I saw… Anyway, I had investigated the world of southern fried chicken and looked at loads of recipes and put this together from a range of places based on what seemed to appear consistently in the recipes and also what I had in the cupboards.
For the flour:
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried sage
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup corn starch
½ tsp baking powder
For the buttermilk:
1 cup vegan buttermilk (1 cup of soya milk and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, whisked together and left to sit for 5 – 10 mins)
1 tsp hot sauce
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
Ok, here goes. This is taking almost as long to write out as it took to cook the first time. It’s making me hungry.
You will need 2 bowls and a drying rack to complete all of the coating process and to also drain off the seitan once cooked.
Start off by making the vegan butter milk. Combine the ingredients and then let sit for 5 to 10 mins whilst you get all the ingredients for the flour together and mix them well in a bowl. By the time you have got them all sorted, your buttermilk should be good to go.
In your second bowl, mix the buttermilk with the hot sauce and salt. You are now ready to being the coating process.
Add the seitan to the buttermilk and let soak for 10 mins. One soaked, add the pieces a few at a time to the flour and coat well before putting on the drying rack and leaving for another 5 to 10 mins. You can use this time to get your oil heated up. You want it at 180oC. Be careful, don’t burn your house down or anything.
Once the seitan pieces have sat in the coating for 10 mins, we repeat the coating process. This helps more of the flour stick and also creates all sort of lumps, bumps and crevices which are going to make this really good. Straight in to the buttermilk, straight in to the flour and then in to the 180oC oil.
The most important tip I found was to leave the pieces along for at least 3 minutes otherwise you risk knocking the coating off. Overall mine took about 8 mins to get nice and golden. My pan was not big enough to cook the whole lot and yours probably won’t be either so I did a couple of batches and kept the first batch warm in a low oven. I chucked the first batch in the oil again for a minute at the end, just because.