Guest Blogger: Cheeky-vegan – VLT Open Sandwich: Seitan ‘Bacon’, Lettuce & Tomato with a Sicilian Tomato & White Bean Purée

22 Jul

Welcome back Sian! Sian White is from the UK and author of The Cheeky Vegan. Last time Sian was on VBU! she contributed her Thai-Style Squash and Tofu Curry recipe. Do give it a try and let her know VBU! sent you. Welcome back Sian!

Seitan Bacon. Or what I like to call ‘Beican’.

Vegan BLT open sandwich on homemade wholemeal bread with a Sicilian inspired tomato and white bean purée.

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Ok, I feel the need to justify this slightly, as I stated very bluntly in my about page that I don’t miss the taste of bacon. It’s true, I don’t. I never find myself thinking ‘I could murder a bacon bap’, and just last week a colleague of mine stank out the office with the smell of bacon, and it didn’t affect me. Naturally many other colleagues developed food envy and an entire conversation about how great bacon is followed (with yours truly keeping very quiet).

I’m not fussed about the taste of bacon, but I know a lot of people who are. You cannot deny that there are a lot of vegan ‘bacon’ recipes out there, ranging from aubergine (eggplant) to dried coconut flakes. Clearly some vegans are craving a crispy, salty sandwich filling.

What I am interested in is seitan – I find it fascinating. It’s so easy to make from scratch and it’s extremely versatile in terms of flavour and cooking method. Simmered and sliced, it makes a perfect, juicy centrepiece for a traditional roast dinner. Baked, it takes on a chewy and dense texture which makes an amazing sandwich filling. Obviously it has many more uses, but I’m not going to list them here. Instead I’m going to tell you how to make seitan that tastes and feels like bacon.

[A note to UK readers – seitan isn’t as well known here as it is overseas, so don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. It’s a meat substitute made with Vital Wheat Gluten, which is basically flour with the starch washed out of it. Unless you live in an area with a large whole foods shop nearby, VWG is easier to buy online, and I get mine from Honest to Goodness, where it is reasonably priced and delivered very promptly.]

If you’re planning on making this whole thing from scratch, you’ll need a little forward planning, as baking bread and seitan at the same time is a little hardcore. Make the seitan on one evening and the bread the following day. If you have a bread maker, you could get away with making them both at the same time, it’s entirely up to you. If you have a short attention span like me, and have a tendency to get distracted by video games and Adventure Time, it’s probably wise to spread this over a couple of days.

Of course, using shop-bought bread is perfectly acceptable. I won’t judge.

CHEAT ALERT: If you have a bread maker, you can definitely afford to be lazy with this – seitan made in a bread maker comes out just as good and simply involves pressing a button and having the afternoon off. Bread maker recipe adapted below.

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Ingredients

Seitan Bacon

  • 1.5 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, crushed

 

Please note I’m not going to provide a recipe for the bread, as there are a million of them out there, and I just whipped this up quickly in the bread maker. This post is really all about the ‘beican’ and I want to keep it that way.


Method

Pre-heat oven to 160° C. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to create a dough. It will feel slightly greasy to the touch. Knead for about 5-10 minutes (depending on your kneading skills) until gluten strings develop and the dough starts to feel quite tough. Try to keep it in a slightly flat ‘slab’, to ensure thin bacon-like slices at the end. Wrap in foil and bake for an hour.

Important note: When the seitan comes out of the oven it will only be partially cooked. If you don’t wish to fry it afterwards, then bake for about 90 minutes in total. However bear in mind that you won’t get the crispy exterior that comes with frying. I take it out after an hour while it’s still slightly doughy in the middle, slice it thinly and then fry it over a high heat in some olive oil. This makes it go lovely and crispy on the outside, while remaining chewy on the inside. Make sure the oil and pan are very hot before you add the seitan, and only fry it for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Keep an eye on it, as once it burns it’s not very nice!

Only fry what you need at the time – the rest can be wrapped in cling film and will keep in the fridge for about a week.

If you’re using a bread maker, start by adding all the wet ingredients. Then add the VWG and sprinkle other dry ingredients on top of this. Set to a manual cycle with about 5-10 minutes of kneading and 60 minutes of baking. If your machine doesn’t allow you to cut rise sequences, just reduce to the minimum time allowed. It won’t affect the seitan.

Once the seitan is ready, construct your VLT by spreading the Sicilian purée on your bread, piling on some shredded lettuce, a couple of slices of tomato and then layering on some lovely beican. Enjoy with hash browns. Gobble while it’s hot.

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5 Responses to “Guest Blogger: Cheeky-vegan – VLT Open Sandwich: Seitan ‘Bacon’, Lettuce & Tomato with a Sicilian Tomato & White Bean Purée”

  1. inpursuitofmmm August 12, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Not really into fake meat and never tried seitan, but that looks delicious!

  2. Jack Rice April 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I have tried many bacon substitutes in the past and have to say I was underwhelmed. I haven’t tried seitan bacon and will be interested to see how it tastes and feels on the tongue. I have tried a Ruben sandwich and a meatball sub made with seitan that were really very good and the meat substitute looked and felt like the real thing. I am an unabashed carnivore but frequently provide vegan dishes for my friends and relatives that don’t eat animal products. The coconut bacon tastes like smoked coconut – not good. The soy bacon had a background taste of something like baking soda and the texture of Grape Nuts cereal. It was like chewing small bits of gravel – not good. The mushroom bacon tasted fine but it’s texture was leathery and limp – not good. The eggplant bacon looks like the real thing in pictures and I am going to try it next. Vegan meat substitutes have improved immensely in the last few years. I am still waiting for a vegan cheese that melts and is gooey. So far almost all of the vegan cheese I have tried falls far short of the real thing.

  3. Cara O'Sullivan June 9, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Could the seitan be frozen and then taken out and fried up later?

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