Fake fried chicken

“If there’s one thing I definitely know, it’s that I’m stubborn!”

This recipe proves that not everything vegan is healthy and green. In fact this recipe is deep fried so isn’t particularly healthy at all – although I have attempted to keep it as “clean” as possible by opting for coconut oil which means it may actually avoid cholesterol – bonus!

Want to skip to the recipe?

Try, try and try again!

I first discovered fake fried chicken when a friend posted a picture on Instagram of his trip to Temple of Seitan – a fast food joint, in Hackney, London known for their 100% vegan fried chicken, which sounds like an oxymoron verging on the ridiculous but is 100% true and 100% delicious! That was around January last year, and I didn’t actually get to pay a visit there until July and feeling like a kid at Christmas I ordered absolutely everything I could – and made a pretty decent attempt at eating it all!

Temple of Seitan, Hackney, London

My first visit to Temple of Seitan in July 2017

I’d tried other variants of “vegan fried chicken” at local omni pubs and food markets before then, and instantly became set on finding a way of making my own. Mentioning this I was advised by a lot of vegans and non-vegans that it was a fairly difficult recipe to follow but naturally being my stubborn self I didn’t let that deter me.

My first attempt was a little rusty as the “chicken” resulted in the consistency of something very similar to a sausage – tasty – but not quite the texture I was going for. However to me failure just meant learning from my mistakes and being patient – admittedly something I struggle with.

I trawled the internet to find common ground among various recipes.

After three attempts, with no qualms about taste, I was almost ready to give up when I felt inspired after a conversation with a vendor at a local vegan market (Sneinton Vegan Market) who recommended I try preparing the seitan in advance of frying it.

It worked!

Better still after playing around a few more times, I learnt that even storing it in the fridge or freezer in advance of frying also helped with the texture.

So what is seitan?

Seitan is a pretty odd thing, who knew gluten contained the main protein of wheat? Which means, yeh, you got it – this recipe is packed full of protein too. Although if you are gluten intolerant I would avoid at all costs – obviously!!!

Often used in many types of cuisine from Asian through to Buddhist it is apparently made from washing wheat flour dough with water to leave only insoluble gluten which helps to make the elastic, rubber-like texture you will soon be kneading!

I love this article which contains a pros and cons infographic.

It’s also pretty damn dense which means it absorbs flavours SO well! Having grown in popularity since I first opted for a plant-based diet but with so many varieties of the product now available ready-made, as mock meat, now on the market it can be impossible to know which contain higher sodium levels or high levels of additives – which is why I was so keen to make my own!

 

The best thing is you know exactly what goes into this – plenty of flavour, and no harm caused either!

The Recipe

PREP TIME: 10 MINS

COOKING TIME: 50 – 60 MINS

COST: < £5

Ingredients:

“Chicken-style” Seitan:

  • 1 cup of vital wheat gluten
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or granules
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth for cooking
  • 1 medium sized onion (chopped into segments)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Batter:

  • 1 ½ cups of plain flour
  •  cup of nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup of American mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or granules
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • ½ cup of coconut oil for frying

 

Method:

  • To make the seitan: Combine the vital wheat gluten and dry spices in a medium sized mixing bowl
  • In a separate bowl mix the soy sauce and the cup of vegetable stock
  • Create a hollow in the dry mix and pour in the liquid mixture stirring gently to combine well
  • After a few stirs, you’ll probably find you’ll need to muck n with your hands and get sticky as the mixture will start to have a rubbery consistency – avoid using an electric mixer, food processor or whisk at all costs!
  • If the mixture is too sticky add a little more flour, similarly if a little dry add more water
  • Ensure fully mixed with a rubbery consistency
  • Once well combined, flour your surface and knead your seitan between 10 and 15 times, turning, as you would bread and allow to sit for around 5 minutes before kneading a few more time  – it’s important you don’t skip this step
  • Split your ball of seitan into smaller chunks (the size you’d like your fried “chicken” to be) and use your fingers to stretch each piece into a flat cutlet
  • Pour 6 cups of vegetable stock into a large pot with the onion segments and add the seitan to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer
  • Add extra herbs and spices to your taste – extra soy sauce or ginger perhaps
  • Cover the pot and allow the seitan to cook for approximately one hours – you will see it start to expand – the seitan is cooked once firm and expanded
  • For best results store in the stock in the fridge overnight, or freeze if you wish to keep for longer – however you can coat with the batter once cooled
  • To make the batter: In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the salt, garlic powder or granules, flour, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and nutritional yeast and mix well
  • In another small bowl whisk together the mustard and water, add a heaped teaspoon of the dry mixture to the mustard and water and mix well
  • Add baking powder to the flour mixture
  • Once combine it’s now time to coat your “chicken-style seitan pieces in the batter, first coat in the wet mixture and then cover with the dry
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan – I always use a wok for the depth – test the heat by dropping in a pinch of the batter mix – once it floats to the service, your oil is hot enough for frying
  • Drop the coated seitan pieces gently into the oil and fry on high – turning half way through – for 5 -7 minutes
  • Once a golden brown take out and drain on a paper towel and serve with your chosen dipping sauce, salad or fries

If you’ve had a go at this recipe, liked it, thought it was missing something, or have something you want to say, please get in touch.