Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Vegan Sausages with Sriracha and Five-Spice Powder

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People often ask me if eating a vegan diet while my husband eats meat ever causes conflict, and my answer is always an unequivocal nope! However, there is one thing that causes an issue from time to time—our opposing views on spicy food. I really, really love spicy food and he can't stand it. In fact, he has an uncanny ability to detect the tiniest amount of spiciness in any dish and always points it out to me. I prefer to put minced hot peppers or sriracha on everything I can, and it's still never enough. I've read a few interesting articles on capsaicin, a chemical found in spicy food, which can trigger an endorphin rush in some people, and may explain why it's so appealing. It's a viable theory, but I also like to think that I enjoy it because it just tastes really good.

One spicy prepared food item that I really like is Field Roast's Mexican Chipotle vegan sausages, but I've been wanting to make a homemade version so I could jack up and create a balanced heat level myself. For these fiery slices, I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz's method of steaming and browning for her Simple Italian Sausages. The reason why this method is so great is that wheat gluten typically gets super dry during the baking process, but steaming infuses moisture into every nook and cranny of the sausage, yielding a succulent and perfectly textured end product. Slice up and brown these sausages to pair with polenta for a hearty and rustic dish, use it in a lasagna when the weather cools down a bit or serve alongside some breakfast hashbrowns or french toast.

Heavily adapted from

1/2 cup refried beans
2 TB sriracha
1/2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice powder
fresh or dried thai chilis, sliced or habanero powder or peppers, minced (use whatever amount you want)
1 TB hot chili oil
1 small shallot, grated on a microplane zester
1 head of roasted garlic, pureed (or 2-3 raw cloves, grated on a microplane zester)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 TB vegan worcestershire sauce
1 TB soy sauce
1 tsp fennel seed
3 TB chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups cold vegetable broth, plus a bit extra if needed
2 cups vital wheat gluten (VWG)
toasted sesame oil

In a large glass bowl, combine the first thirteen ingredients. Mix well. Taste the mixture and adjust any spices as needed.

Now add in the cold broth and mix again until well combined. Add in half of the vital wheat gluten and stir again until well combined. Then add in the rest of the VWG and stir until smooth. It should be soft and squishy, but cleanly adhered together, and all of the VWG should be completely absorbed. Add a bit more cold broth if needed to achieve that texture.

Divide the mixture into four equal pieces. Roll each of the pieces into a cylindrical shape. Place a piece of tin foil on your counter and place a little toasted sesame oil in the middle. Place the sausage of top of that, and roll it up tightly, twisting the ends to create a seal.

Place the sausages in a bamboo or steamer basket. Place that into a larger skillet with a tight fitting lid. Fill the pan with enough water so it comes up halfway to the steamer basket, but does not touch the bottom part of the steamer (you don't want the boiling water to actually touch your sausages). Place the lid over the top and steam over medium heat for 40 minutes.

Remove the sausages from the steamer and allow to cool. If you are not serving right away, keep them wrapped in the tin foil and seal in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

To serve, slice them up into 1/4-inch thick or thinner slices, then give them a quick sear in a hot skillet with a little toasted sesame oil.


  1. These look amazing and I`m a "spiciness-adorer" myself, so I think the unused bag of gluten flour in my kitchen counter is going to be opened veeery soon.
    by the way, I loooove your blogs layout and the pictures of the food (and the food itself as well of course ;p) do look absolutely stunning :DDD
    lg nora :D

  2. These sound lovely, I too am married to an omnivorous man who doesn't do spicy and I also have to 'pimp up' my food if he is joining me in my vegan dishes to get the right level of heat. Thanks for this, I know what I'm make for dinner tonight!

    1. I've never had a good phrase for adding nuclear amounts of spice to my food, but "pimping it up" is hysterical/accurate, so I'll be using that from now on ... thanks Helen B! : )

  3. oh this is interesting! we've been talkinga bout grinding & making our own sausages (meat) but now the possibility of vegetarian or vegan sausages is tempting too.

    ps. i love spicy food and sriracha saves lives.

    1. Thanks, Lan! If I didn't make these myself, I'd be seriously questioning if it was actually meat, it tastes so real. (from what I remember)

      Yep, isn't sriracha the BEST?!?

  4. you love your spicy food, woman! this vegan sausage looks scrumptious.

  5. This looks so good! Is there any possible alternative to VWG? I don't have access to it where I live...

    1. Thanks Sophie! There are some alternatives to VWG, although I've never tried them out myself. I did a little research on this, and there are some options that are made of a mixture of chickpea/bean and/or rice flours, although you may have to experiment a little bit to get the ratios right.

      Here's a good lookin' option:

      Good luck!

    2. Thank you! I'm going to look into it.

  6. Oh man.. this sounds sooooo good! I can totally relate to you as far as vegan vs omni and spicy vs non in my relationship. My boyfriend says about himself, "I'm so white I think ketchup is spicy!" ha ha. But, most of my family LOVES spicy food. It's been a while since I've made vegan sausages, putting this on my to-make list!

    1. Thanks Jackie! It's so funny to hear about how people either love or hate spice -- jeffwyso's attitude towards spicy is kind of like my view on eating meat/dairy/eggs -- no exceptions, not even a little bit, howdareyouaskthat! The sausages are quite divine, I hope you enjoy them!

  7. Im always on the hunt for new vegan sausage recipes..this sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  8. I just found your blog and wow, it's so gorgeous!

    The one and only things I miss about meat are Italian style sausages. But not for the taste of meat itself, but for the spice mix and all the fat. I still have to find a recipe that satisfies my rare but very-much-there cravings for greasy vegan sausages..

    Anyways I will try this, as it looks very yummy.

    And thank you for all the inspiration!

    1. Thank you! These are all of the things I love about that too! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  9. Hi Erin,

    These sausages sound incredible! I'm going to make them this week but I have a question. I couldn't get Thai chiles where I live and bought a few Serrano chiles instead. Do you think it would be a mistake to substitute with those? Are they less hot or hotter than Thai chiles? Thanks so much for the recipe!

    1. Thank you! This is a very flexible recipe, so I think subbing the thai chilis for serrano would be perfectly fine ... I hope you enjoy!

    2. Thank you! I'm sure I will!! And after making them, I hope to make your calzones too! Yum!!

  10. I have a suggestion for VWG substitute, hope will work. Keep cakes of firm (not extra) tofu in the freezer, defrost when needed, squeeze out as much water as possible, crumble and use as a ground meat substitute, it even has the texture.


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