Seitan Fried "Chicken"
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
You don't need to eat chickens when you have SEITAN behind you!
Now Seitan was one of those things I had heard about for a while after going vegan. And I bought a bag of Vital Wheat Gluten, and put it up on my shelf and would look at it every other day and say "not today Seitan" because I was so intimidated by it. I mean, there's so many ways you can make it, you can boil it, pressure cook it, bake it, steam it, etc so I thought, there's too much room for error! But honestly, you just gotta get your hands dirty and make some and experiment, and find out what you like.
I decided to fry this guy up, but he'd be find without the breading. You can slice this Seitan up and just pan fry it. You can marinade it in whatever you like and cook it later too!
Seitan is a lot like chicken in the sense that it can be pretty bland if you don't season it right. Personally I like to use a lot of seasoning in my Seitan mix as well as my breading. I typically will use Mrs. Dash chicken seasoning, or a Cajun seasoning, or even just an all purpose seasoning. Whatever you like should be fine!
Another thing to note about Seitan, is the amount of kneading will affect the texture. The more you knead, the more fibrous and "meaty" it will be. The less you knead, the more pillowy and bouncy it'll be, if that makes sense. Another factor that will affect the texture is if you wrap it in foil or not. I've tried both ways and wrapping it will result in a firmer, denser texture, and it won't expand as much. If you cook it without wrapping in foil, it'll be airy and have more space.
And lastly, remember to add beans to your Seitan. This helps with the texture (as well as adds some good old nutrients). You can use any bean you like, but I typically use white, pinto or kidney beans.
The special equipment you need for this recipe is an Instant Pot and a Stand Mixer. You could try kneading this by hand, but I'm not sure if the texture will come out as great, and you might get tennis elbow too. It'll still be good, but it's much better with a stand mixer. Likewise if you don't have an Instant Pot, you could bake this in the oven, but I've never done that with this recipe so I can't recommend what temp and time. That's something I'll have to experiment with and when I do, I'll update this recipe.
A few tips for Fried Chick'n:
Get a deep fry thermometer. You can use a different one if you fry in a pan, but for my money, the deep fry thermometer has been a big help. I like to fry at 375 degrees.
Use a cooling rack after frying. The reason for this is, if you just put your chick'n on a plate, or paper towel, it's gonna steam itself and get soft. With a wire rack, it'll stay crispy.
Don't use olive oil to fry. You need to use something with a high smoke point, I usually fry with peanut oil, but vegetable or canola work fine too!
If the recipe calls for a vegan buttermilk, really let the plant-milk and vinegar sit for a good 5 -10 minutes. I have found that different plant-milks will thicken more or less. I personally use Ripple most times, and it works the best. You really want the wet mixture to be thick enough that it will stick to the chick'n and bind the breading. If it's not thick enough, add some more vinegar.
Shake off the excess flour and batter when you dredge.
Make sure you press the flour into the chick'n so it sticks!
And lastly, one thing I like to do is take a fork and dip it in the wet mixture, then flick it in the dry mix a few times and then whisk that together. That will help you get more craggly texture!
Makes about 5 Chick'n Patties
Half a can (7 oz) of white beans (or pinto, kidney etc)
3/4 cup water (or veggie broth)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash Chicken seasoning (or any seasoning you like)
1/2 Tbsp garlic salt
2 dashes liquid smoke
1 cup vital wheat gluten
Breading (if frying)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash Chicken seasoning (or any seasoning you like)
3/4 cup plant milk
3/4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp hot sauce of choice
1 Tbsp pickle brine
Let's make the Seitan first. Combine all the ingredients except the vital wheat gluten in a blender and blend until smooth.
In a stand mixer bowl, combine the wet ingredients with the vital wheat gluten. Mix at first by hand / spatula.
After you mixed everything so it's well combined, make sure the texture is good. You want it to be springy and not too wet. If it feels to wet, add a tablespoon of more vital wheat gluten at a time until it feels more solid. If it's too dry, add a bit more water or broth until it comes together.
In the stand mixer, use a bread hook and knead the Seitan on level 2 for about 20 minutes. This will create a nice fibrous texture for the Seitan.
Once Seitan has been kneaded, you can either do as I did and break it up into 5-6 chick'n patties, or keep it as one big piece and either cut or tear pieces off as you wish. You could easily make fried nuggets or chick'n fingers too! Whichever you choose, wrap the Seitan tightly in foil.
In your Instant Pot, fill it up with enough water to cover the Seitan and cook on high pressure for 1 hour 20 minutes. Release the pressure (carefully of course)
Once the Seitan is cool enough to handle, unwrap it and refrigerate for 4 hours.
If frying continue on, but if not, you can do whatever you want with the Seitan. I would normally pan fry it and put some BBQ sauce on it, eat with some mashed potatoes and green beans! YUM!
Okay, if you're here at step 9, it means it's time to fry!
Bring a pot or heavy cast iron skillet and some oil up to 375 degrees.
While oil is heating up, let's prepare our dredging stations.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and Mrs. Dash seasoning in one bowl. Add the plant milk, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce and pickle brine in another bowl. Let it sit for a couple minutes to create the vegan buttermilk. Make sure it's thick enough to stick to the chick'n, otherwise, add more vinegar.
Once oil is up to temperature, dip your chick'n pieces in the wet, then dry, shaking off any excess flour, and then repeat to double dredge.
Carefully add them to the oil and fry until golden brown.
Let them rest on a cooling rack, and once they're done, eat them however you'd like!
Recipe Note: Hat tip to Thomas at Full of Plants for the kneading and Instant Pot ideas.