• Becky Berberich

General Tso's All Hail Seitan

Tomorrow is going to be awesome. Mainly for two reasons. One: I have what is called a 'no-touch' day at work when I don't have students and I can spend my whole day grading, planning, AND wearing sweatpants. Two: I made General Tso's seitan for lunch.

This recipe is a bit more involved that usual, but I figured I'd throw it out there. First I'm going to tell you about the sauce, and then I'll tell you about the seitan.

General Tso's sauce is easier than you think. Different places use different combination of ingredients so you may find that this doesn't taste exactly like your local take out, but maybe as you go along and taste test you can figure out what they do. Either way, this sauce is bangin'.

Sauce Ingredients:

- 3 Tbs soy sauce

- 1/4 cup rice vinegar (white or apple would work too)

- 2 packed Tbs brown sugar

- 1 Tbs grated ginger

- 3/4 Tbs minced garlic

- 2 Tbs sweet BBQ sauce*

- 1 tsp sesame oil

- A few shakes of red pepper flakes depending on how hot you want it

- a Tbs or two of water to thin

*Hear me out on the BBQ sauce. If you go and read a bunch of recipes for General Tso's sauce they all call for ketchup or hoisin sauce, which is basically Asian BBQ sauce. It's not that weird.

I put all the liquids along with the sugar in first and when it started to bubble I added the garlic and ginger. I put in probably 5 shakes of red pepper and it was spicy. I'm not a baby but I'm also not over here being macho eating Carolina Reapers.

Nutrition facts 1/2 of recipe which is about 4-5 Tbs (sorry that's so not precise) 121 Calories; Fat 1.6 g; Fiber 0.1 g; Protein 0.6 g; Carbohydrates 24.9 g

Now onto seitan. I LOVE seitan.

"How do you get protein? Probably lots of tofu. Tofu's gross." Tofu's not gross... It's just not a good texture replicant of meat. I 100% understand that when you stop eating meat you will not be eating meat and therefor will not have an exact replica. But, you still want a satisfying, hearty, dare I say 'meaty' experience seitan is your guy. or gal.

Everyone who is gluten free will not be able to eat seitan. It is LITERALLY almost all gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and while it doesn't give my stomach any problems, I know it's getting a bad wrap these days. Those beautiful proteins look like any wheat flour you might run across but when you add water it suddenly becomes stringy, aggressive, and eventually coagulates into a beautiful ball of dough. My recipe is fairly simple.


- 1 cup vital wheat gluten

- 1/4 cup chickpea flour

- 1 Tbs poultry seasoning

- 1 tsp garlic powder

- 1 Tbs better than bullion vegetable base

- 1 cup water (*I had just blanched some beets so I used it to impart a pink 'muscle' color to my seitan)

- 2 Tbs BBQ sauce (can be omitted... IDK. Wanted to try it)

Step 1: Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix em' up.

Step 2: Put all wet ingredients into a blender and blend em' up.

Step 3: Combine them and kneed. Kneeding builds the meaty texture and also feels really fun. It's a big squishy and slimy and odd feeling, but you can start to get a hold of a good texture. Not too soft, not too dry, and eventually it feels like good solid dough. If you need to add a bit more wheat gluten or a bit more water there's no shame in that game. You'll eventually end up with something that looks like the brainy mass below.

Step 4: Many, many options. Seitan can be baked, steamed, or steamed and then baked. I feel I get the best results when I steam my seitan so that's what I usually do. People have all sorts of advice and ideas. Try a few out. You'll see what you like. I split this into three pieces so I had a reasonable serving size and then I loosely wrapped them in foil so they had room to expand but wouldn't fall though the holes in my steamer.

I steamed my seitan loafs for 45 min or until I felt they were firm and bounced back when I poked at them.

I included the mess around it and my not terribly attractive kitchen accessories so you can get a better scale of how big these loafs were. They should each slice up into good 'chicken pieces' when they're done and be ready for me to sauce up.

Nutrition Facts on just the seitan. 1 loaf or 1/3 of the recipe. Calories 232; Fat 1.3 g; Fiber 2.4 g; Protein 36.2 g; Carbohydrates 14.8 g

OMG also real quick can we look at that protein count?! Who want's tofu now? What? Oh... people who like tofu? That's cool then. Carry on.

After my seitan was done, I let it cool, sliced two of the loafs into rough pieces and tossed them with the General Tso's sauce and put them in my lunch box with about 1 1/2 cups of steamed broccoli each. They will look very odd when you first unwrap them. They're more delicious then then are beautiful.

This is my final product... and while I am annoyed at the amateur quality of the picture, the seitan ended up looking way better than the broccoli (which it is). The above picture was taken when I had it the next day for lunch. This was honestly on one of the most delicious [Americanized] Chinese recipes I've made and the seitan turned out perfectly. Just a little bit of work and you can make something as good as take out at a fraction of the calories and no unknown ingredients.

Nutrition facts for this meal of 1 serving each seitan and sauce along with 1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli. Calories 435; Fat 3.8 g, Fiber 10.2 g; Protein 42.3 g; Carbohydrates 56.5 g

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