Cooking with Seitan

A few months ago, there was a seitan sampling at Fin hosted by Katherine Harang Hunter, proprietor of Three Smiles Kitchen Seitan Creations. I realize that many people don’t know what seitan even is. Well, first things first, it’s pronounced just like Satan. It’s basically the isolated protein from wheat flour (or gluten). Yes, it’s a nightmare to someone who has celiac, but it’s becoming a trendy substitute to meat and other proteins, as it has a chewiness that gives chefs something to work with. A number of seitan dishes are featured at places like New World Bistro and All Good Bakers. The first time I tried it was on All Good Bakers’ analog to the Rueben where seitan corned beef was the main protein in that sandwich. I thought it was interesting.

So at this tasting, I got to try a few of the things that Katherine makes with seitan (and I also got to meet her; she’s incredibly personable and passionate about her products).  Out of the three things I tried, seitan everyday roast, seitan chorizo, and seitan Italian sausage, I was most intrigued by the seitan chorizo, which is loaded with all of the spices used to make regular pork chorizo, so I picked some up. It’s been sitting in my freezer while I found some inspiration.

Seitan chorizo

My inspiration came from a bag of Louisiana shrimp I recently purchased at Fin.

Louisiana shrimp

Louisiana shrimp

I figured a sweet tasting shrimp would be the perfect canvas for all of the spicy goodness in the seitan. My mind gravitated to tacos, so I picked up some corn tortillas and some interesting lettuce to assemble the meal.

Getting ready

So I diced some of the seitan and browned it up in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil. I removed it from the skillet, and cooked the shrimp on the same hot skillet, then, right at the end, I brought the seitan back to the party and let the flavors mingle for a minute.

shrimp and seitan

After that, it was as simple as loading up the warmed tortillas with shrimp, seitan, and lettuce.

Shrimp and seitan chorizo tacos

Shrimp and seitan tacos

I thought it was delicious, but I’m also very keen on spicy foods. The seitan chorizo has a very assertive spiciness, and it’s also pretty chewy (with the consistency of dense damp bread), so it’s understandable that it might not be everyone’s thing (I’m sure this little concoction would be good with regular chorizo or andoullie or any sausage for that matter).

The one challenge I’ll note is that seitan sucks up oil like crazy. I had to stop at about 2 tablespoons before I turned this relatively healthy meal into something that’s laden with fat. Because of this, it was difficult to render out the seasoning like you can with real sausage, which was my intent. It still turned out good.

I used the rest in a seitan chorizo and sweet potato hash for breakfast.

I had fun working with a new ingredient.


One thought on “Cooking with Seitan

  • Jeni B

    I tried to like seitan when I had a short stint as a vegetarian. I think I was looking for a “meat substitute”. I’ve since gotten to where I’ve realized that if one just views things like seitan and tofu as the things they actually ARE, they have their place and can even be delicious.

    One of these days, I’ll try them again.. maybe.


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