Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sambal Seitan Skewers

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Yields about 7-8 cups
Total active time: about 1 hour
Total passive time: 45 minutes, to simmer the seitan

I don't eat a lot of seitan—the few prepared brands I've tried and recipes I've made were just okay, but not great—so I rarely think about or use it. However, when I received my latest issue of Bon App├ętit magazine with this gorgeous cover photo, I instantly wanted to develop a seitan that I could marinate in their spicy glaze recipe, skewer and grill with similar results. After a few experiments with different flours, I found that cutting the vital wheat gluten with a blend of chickpea and whole wheat pastry flours yielded a soft yet sturdy texture which held up nicely on the grill. The thick, spicy and sweet reduced marinade clings beautifully to the seitan, producing a gorgeous caramelization around the edges while locking the smoky and salty flavors of miso, sesame oil and fermented black bean sauce inside. A quick brush of leftover marinade at the very end gives these skewers an extra spicy kick.   

for the seitan*
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour (reduce to 1/4 cup if pan-frying instead)
1 cup cold vegetable broth 
2 TB dark sesame oil
1 TB white or chickpea miso
1 TB fermented black bean sauce
*the seitan may be made, simmered and stored in the broth until ready to grill.

for the simmering broth
6 cups cold vegetable broth
several cloves of garlic, smashed
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB raw agave
1 cup of ice cubes

for the marinade (adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2013 edition)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup rice vinegar
2/3 cup sambal oelek
1/2 cup sriracha
2 TB vegan Worcestershire Sauce
1 TB grated ginger

To make the seitan, combine the flours together. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the seitan ingredients, then add it to the flour mixture. Knead in a Kitchen Aid mixer using the dough hook attachment or knead with your hands for one minute to form a cohesive ball of dough. Tear off small, jagged skewer-sized pieces and place to the side. (The pieces will double in size during simmering time.)

To make the simmering broth, combine the broth, garlic, soy sauce, agave and ice cubes in a medium-sized pot. Do not turn on the heat yet—you want the broth to be very cold when you add the seitan to it. 

Next, place enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a cast iron pan or any other non-stick pan. Heat the oil over medium heat. Place the seitan chunks in the pan and allow to brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Drop the cooled seitan chunks into the broth. Bring to a very small simmer, then maintain that heat for about 45 minutes. Cover with a lid that allows some steam to escape during cooking time. Do not allow the broth to boil at any time—it will affect the texture, making it spongy. 

To make the marinade, add all of the marinade ingredients in a saucepan. Toss the seitan chunks in the marinade, then thread onto metal or wood skewers. (If you are using wood skewers, soak them in water first for about an hour to prevent them from burning.)

Now bring the leftover marinade to a small boil in a small saucepan, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer and thicken for 7-10 minutes.

Grill the seitan, turning and basting often with the reduced marinade. Serve immediately, drizzling any extra sauce over the top.


  1. Goodness. I heart seitan. Can't wait to try your version. Just amazing Erin! xx

  2. The problem is at least where I am I have heard that brown sugar is non vegan due to being made from refined sugar and then having additions to it, how do I get around this?

    1. Kathryn, there are lots of vegan sugar brands out there. I use Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Brand:

      Here are more vegan brands:

      and more info:

      Hope this helps!

  3. This looks very good! I personally have no issues with seitan, I'm rarely disappointed with the recipes I try, but if you say yours is even better, it's worth a try, no? Do you think I could use soy flour instead of chickpea flour? My bf has some issues with the latter.

    Also, could I cook these in the oven?

    1. thanks Babette! I think it's fine to use any kind of gluten-free flour in place of the chickpea flour -- it's sole purpose is just to cut or balance out the very gluten-heavy component here.

      I only grilled these, but I assume it would also work in the oven. If you try it, I'd love to hear how it turned out -- good luck!

  4. These looks absolutely delicious Erin!

  5. I'm not picky about seitan due to the strong wheat flavor; I'll have to give yours a try as that glaze looks like perfection!

  6. Erin, these are delicious! I confess that I found some jars of pre-made seitan I found at a local organic shop that I used in lieu of your homemade--but I still followed the same steps for the frying, simmering, marinade and grill. I also threaded some shiitake mushrooms, red onions, and green peppers onto the kabobs. Rich, spicy, and delicious! I have never fully enjoyed seitan so much until I tried this recipe!

    1. Thanks for trying, Leila--glad they were enjoyed! : )

  7. Trying to stay away from gluten and made the glaze to use over tofu, seriously, had our dinner guests say it's one of the best meals they've ever had. Thanks for the inspiration and a valuable resource to infusing some flavor into our cruelty free diet. Thanks.

    1. This marinade over tofu sounds fab ... I will have to try that next time. Glad you and your guests enjoyed!

  8. I can't wait to try this - it looks amazing! I am the only person in my family that likes spicy food, though. If I leave out the sambal oelek and sriracha, what should I substitute to make up the volume?

    1. Thanks! I think you could sub a mild bbq sauce for both hot sauces and still get a good result. good luck!

  9. OH. MY. GAWD. Just made these; SOOOOOO GOOOD!!!!! LOVE!

  10. yep! They are all gone. Making another batch tonight. The consistancy is perfect...I am thinking I will make a meatball out of them...I've never been able to get the textue right for seitan meatballs...its the cutting of it with the other flours! Brilliant!
    Husband is having them tonight--will be his first vegan dinner in a very long time (he's trying to go vegan now)

    BTW--thank you for following us on Twitter--I am the owner of Door 86 Vegan cheese.


    1. Daphne, I am thrilled you liked the seitan! I like the softer consistency too - most commercial brands are too chewy/tough for me. I would love to know how the meatballs turn out -- I've been wondering if they would work in another form, like a hamburger patty.

      I hope your husband enjoyed and your company looks amazing -- I remember reading about it on!

  11. I actually did not make the meatballs last nigiht--I made another round of the skewers and saved some of the dough (unflavored) and made a chicken cooking broth (onion powder/nooch/sage/pepper/mustard).

    I made the cutlets sort of flat, then cooked them in the skillet, cooled,and simmered in the broth.

    We are having them tonight as chicken piccata! I tasted them last night and they were pretty good. I will let you know how the m-balls turn out.

    Thanks for the compliment--we are almost finished with the Kickstarter campaign and then hope to get into our kitchen SOOOON!! :) We have so much cheese to make its scary!

  12. I just made these again (turned it into souvlaki) but I forgot to pan fry before I added them to the cold stock. Can I pan sear after they finish? Does this even make a difference?


    1. hmmmmm .... I think that would probably work. You may just get a softer, less-caramelized texture around the edges, but I'm not sure. I am actually curious to know how they turned out, so if you have a chance, let me know! Thank you so much for making this again, I hope you enjoy, Daphne!

    2. HI,

      yes, they turned out fine, but a little softer on the outside...I did fry them after they cooled and they were good, but next time I'll remember to pan sear them before simmering!

    3. thanks for letting me know, Daphne!


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