November 20, 2022


Okay, Friends... remember way back when I started this series of vegan recipe reviews, and I said that I wasn't going to use "weird" ingredients or make "weird" vegan food? Well, as the weeks and months have gone on, I've been more and more adventurous. And some of the weird ingredients have become staples in my house!

But as far as weird vegan food, I made something last week that I never imagined I'd make in a million years... seitan "turkey". (I had no idea what seitan even was.) With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought it would be a fun time to try out making a vegan turkey dinner. I feel like vegan food can't get much weirder than turkey made out of tofu and a new-to-me ingredient called vital wheat gluten.

Vital wheat gluten is pretty much pure gluten--the stuff that a lot of people avoid in their diets. Wheat flour is processed to remove everything but the gluten. I've never worried about eating gluten, so I ordered some on Amazon to give this recipe a try.

I'd heard the word 'seitan' before and I assumed it was another product like tofu or tempeh. But seitan is actually a meat substitute that is made from vital wheat gluten--and it dates back to 2,000 years ago! It has about the same amount of protein as meat and it's very low in carbs (which surprised me, considering the vital wheat gluten is essentially flour--or at least it looks like flour).

The recipe I chose is from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.) This one looked interesting to me because of the "skin" you can cover it with, which is just a piece of rice paper. However, after reading more about seitan, I wish I'd chosen a different recipe. This one specifically states not to knead the dough; but everything else I've read says you *should* knead it. I think that's why my final product looks somewhat marbled. But I've never made it before, so who knows?!

First, the ingredients for the dough. The roast is made in two parts, because the dough rests overnight in the fridge.

Firm tofu, vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, white miso paste, vegan bouillon powder, salt, sage, onion powder, thyme, and garlic powder. (Right there--the first four ingredients I'd never used until becoming vegan.)

The recipe had directions with or without a food processor. When I got the Ninja blender, I got rid of my food processor since the Ninja does the job of both. Now I regret getting rid of it, because this recipe specified that you need to use the S blade in a food processor. The Ninja's blade is actually a stack of three S blades. But anyway, I followed the directions for no food processor.

First, you add all of the ingredients except for the wheat gluten to a blender. You don't have to press the tofu; just drain it over the sink and give it a gentle squeeze.

Once you blend it all together, the texture is kind of like hummus...

If using a food processor, you can add the vital wheat gluten right to the processor, making it very easy. Otherwise, you stir the gluten in by hand. I can't even begin to describe how thick the dough was--it was very hard to stir! It was kind of like an extremely thick pizza dough.

I didn't knead it, even though I wanted to--it looked like it needed it. But once it's mixed, you shape it into a loaf. I just made a big oval. In hindsight, I should have pressed it down more so the bottom was flatter. It would have looked better when it was done roasting.

Once it's shaped, you wrap it in a double layer of foil. Then you put it in a steamer basket, cover, and steam for one hour or until the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees F. 

After an hour, I stuck a thermometer in and it had surpassed 160, so it was done steaming. (From what I've read, it's better to steam it too long than not long enough.)

Then you put it in the fridge overnight (or up to three days). The next afternoon, I pulled it out and I was really curious to see what it looked like! It looked... like a brain?

At that point, the roast is ready to finish in the oven. These are the ingredients:

Rice paper, vegan butter, soy sauce, garlic, pepper, and thyme. You only need one piece of rice paper, and thankfully I had some left from when I made rice paper bacon. I forgot about that weird vegan food! It was so good :) 

First, you melt the butter and add the soy sauce, garlic, pepper, and thyme.

Then you brush the roast generously with the butter/garlic mix. After that, you run a piece of rice paper under water and let it soften for a minute. When it's soft, you drape it over the roast:

Then you bake for 15 minutes before brushing the rest of the butter/garlic mix on. I overlooked that in the directions, and I just brushed the butter/garlic mix on before baking. I doubt it made a difference, but I felt like I should mention it. This is what it looked like before I put it in the oven:

After 15 minutes, since I was out of the butter/garlic mix, I just used the brush to grab some from the bottom of the pan and I brushed it on top. At that point, it didn't look a whole lot different:

Then you put it back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. At that point, it had gotten nice and brown and it looked delicious!

You let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it. When I sliced it, the texture was exactly how I anticipated it to be. I wasn't too sure about the marbling, though--I think if I'd kneaded the dough, it might not look like like that. I'm going to try kneading it when I make it in a couple of days, so we'll see the difference.

I cut up one of the slices to give it a taste, and I asked Jerry, Noah, and Eli to try it. Jerry, Noah, and I all liked it, but the true test was Eli... his thoughts? "It's not too bad." Haha, I'm happy with that! He's liking more and more of the "weird" things I make.

I made a couple other vegan recipes--mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. I want to try out a recipe for stuffing and sweet potato casserole this week.

This roast is not something I would completely rave about, but it was definitely good enough to make again. I think it needed a stronger flavor; the taste was pretty mild. Since that is really just about seasonings, I'll try some other recipes. I really liked the texture and I wanted to think of a way to describe it. I just asked Jerry and everything we came up with made it sound really gross!

Some of the comparisons we thought of: the sliced meat in a frozen dinner; Spam; a firm hot dog; bologna. Jerry said, "Pretty much any questionable meat you can think of." Hahahaha! I can't think of a comparison that doesn't make it sound gross. I imagine if you got very thick slices of lunchmeat, it would have a similar texture to that.

Overall, I really liked making this! It was SO foreign to me and I truly had no idea what to expect. I'd never seen seitan before, let alone tasted it. I was very impressed with the texture; the taste was good, but a little too mild--I think it should be bolder. However, that's easy to fix with different seasonings. I'm still unsure of the marbled look, but I will find out after some more experimenting.

I'm definitely going to make another roast for Thanksgiving--I'll just try a different recipe with stronger seasonings. If you know of a good seitan "turkey" recipe, please let me know!

Here is a link to the recipe I tried on It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken.


  1. Sounds like meatloaf or Salisbury steak both of which I LOVE. Another "might have to try."

  2. I have tried seitan but it has always been premade. I am impressed with you making it from scratch.


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