Absolutely NO animals were harmed in the making of this steak! 100% plant-based, juicy, and flavorful as all can be. This recipe is sure to impress you and your carnivorous friends alike.
This was made purely for creative purposes, just to see if I could get the flavor and texture somewhat similar to the real thing. I really enjoy making seitan because there’s so much room for creativity considering you have full control of the overall flavor and texture. This was fun to make and the results seemed to be pretty spot-on for it being completely vegan!
For those who are unfamiliar with seitan, it is a plant-based meat alternative that is made from gluten, a protein found in wheat! If you think of sourdough bread, gluten is the component that allows it to hold its shape, makes it stretchy, elastic, and somewhat chewy. This is how it can imitate meat so closely. When wheat flour is stripped of its carbohydrates, or starch granules, what remains is mainly gluten. The gluten is then hydrated, shaped, and cooked into any desired form to create a protein mass that is strikingly similar to animal meat. Seitan is no new invention, either. It’s actually been around since 6th century China!
If you’re looking to make seitan at home, wheat gluten can be isolated at home by kneading flour under running water until the starch is removed. Another method would be to go to a local health-food store and purchase a bag of gluten flour. I personally prefer to buy a bag of gluten flour and make it that way. I really like Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour and have found it to be the cheapest at Whole Foods, although it can also be purchased through plenty of other retailers. Seitan is also sold pre-made at various different grocery stores, which can be convenient if you do not have the time to prepare it, but I have found that pre-made seitan can be relatively expensive, and comes in limited shapes and sizes.
How to make a Seitan Steak
Time to blow everyone away at the next BBQ, as this 100% plant-based steak is:
Combine the dry ingredients
Since seitan is essentially a dough before it’s cooked, the first step to making this steak is to combine the dry ingredients, which consist of vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast(or as I like to call it, nooch!), garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried rosemary, dried thyme, salt, and black pepper. The vital wheat gluten makes this steak high in protein and meaty in texture, while the chickpea flour helps cut the consistency, so it’s not overly chewy and tough. The nutritional yeast, as well as the remaining spices, are what provide flavor to the mix and make it taste more like an authentic steak.
Make sure to sift your vital wheat gluten and chickpea flour before adding it to your mixing bowl. This will help remove clumps and impurities, making for a more even distribution and consistent texture.
It’s advised to use a metal bowl when mixing the dry ingredients. Once the wet ingredients are added, the dough has a tendency to stick, and I have found that metal bowls are more resistant to sticking, which will make clean up much easier.
Combine the wet ingredients
In a separate bowl or cup, combine the dry ingredients which include veggie broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, beet juice, tomato paste, and liquid smoke. Mix thoroughly with a fork to evenly combine everything.
Using veggie broth provides more flavor, however, it is okay to swap it for water if that’s all you have handy!
The beet juice, as well as the tomato paste, help to give the steak a slightly reddish tint, more closely mimicking real meat. While the beet juice is primarily present for aesthetic purposes and is not completely compulsory to flavor, the tomato paste doubles as a flavor enhancer as well as an aesthetic enhancer. Do use tomato paste, but if you can’t make the beet juice happen, don’t stress, you won’t ruin the steak. Just swap it with an additional tablespoon of veggie broth if that’s the case.
One more note regarding the beet juice, if you really want that reddish hue when serving and presenting, lightly brush the steak with fresh beet juice immediately after it has been cooked and cut. It’s pretty amazing what a color difference it makes!
Combine the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients
Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients. Use either your hands(my preferred method) or a wooden spoon to combine until a dough forms. At this point, it will begin to look like an aerated, bumpy dough ball. When I mix seitan dough, I often think it looks like a head of lumpy brown cauliflower! Enticing, right?!?! Don’t be discouraged, though, it will look more appetizing once it’s cooked, I promise!
Shape your dough
Once the dough has been formed, transfer it to a surface that has been lightly dusted with additional vital wheat gluten, and gently knead it for about 5 minutes. This will help the gluten bonds form, making the end result even more meaty and chewy in texture. Once you have done this, cut or rip the dough in half, shape it in whatever way you think looks best, and allow it to relax for another 5 minutes.
Steam the dough
While the dough is relaxing, prep the steamer basket by placing it inside a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the waterline is just barely under the base of the steamer basket. Place the lid on the pot and bring the water to a rolling boil.
Once the dough has had time to relax, wrap both pieces in aluminum foil, and place them in the prepared steamer basket. You will want to wrap the steaks loosely, as they will expand as they cook.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the steaks to steam for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes is up, flip the steaks using a pair of tongs, and steam on the opposite side for another 30 minutes. Make sure when you remove a steak to flip it, that the basket doesn’t tip over from an uneven weight distribution! This has happened to me once or twice. Okay, maybe three times.
Once the steaming is complete, remove the steaks from the basket and transfer them to a surface where they can cool, without removing the foil. Once they have cooled to room temperature, they are ready to party. At this point, your seitan is thoroughly cooked and totally acceptable to eat, but if you want to take it a step further, feel free to grill them to get that extra charred taste and a more tender surface texture.
As mentioned, after steaming and cooling, the seitan steak is fully cooked and ready to eat. However, if you want to add a little more flavor and texture, as well as getting those nice grill marks, go for the grill! Start by coating your steak in a little bit of oil, and then heat up the grilling surface. For this steak, I used my trusty cast-iron skillet with a ribbed bottom, which worked wonderfully. A regular bbq will work just fine, too! Just be mindful of how long you keep in on the grill.
Once the surface is hot, throw on the steaks! Cook them for roughly 5 minutes on each side while generously brushing them with bbq sauce. Try to refrain from moving them around while they’re cooking or you might get uneven grill marks.
Serve this steak with a side of your favorite veggies or the traditional mashed potatoes!
Seitan does a pretty great job at holding up in the refrigerator. Store it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Reheat on a skillet until warm.
If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy my Mandarin Orange “Chicken” (Seitan) recipe.
And if you turned your kitchen into a fancy vegan steak house for this recipe, please share your experience!
Vegan Seitan Steak
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- 3 tbsp chickpea flour
- 3 tbsp nooch
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup veggie broth
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp beet juice
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2-3 tbsp bbq sauce
- Combine dry ingredients.
- Combine liquid ingredients.
- Combine liquid ingredients with dry ingredients & mix with your hands until a dough forms.
- Cut dough in half, roughly shape it and cover with foil.
- Steam the steaks for 1 hour, flipping halfway through.
- Allow them to come to room temperature.
- Cover the steak with oil and then place them on a cast iron skillet or grill
- Cook for ~5 on each side while brushing them with bbq sauce.