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Vegan Beefy Beefless Seitan

Is vegan beef possible? Vegan Beefy Beefless Seitan is! This hearty seitan has a dense bite and a fibrous texture which makes it perfect for stewing, grilling, stir-frying, roasting, or simply slicing up for sandwiches. Does it taste exactly like beef? Nah. It has a hearty flavour from mushroom stock and marmite that is reminiscent of beef but filled with plant-based nutrients. So this “vegan beef” can stand in for the cow-based stuff in many recipes. You don’t have to dump all your old favourite recipes when going plant-based; just sub in some beefy beefless seitan!

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Video Tutorial for Vegan Beefless Seitan

 Why Make “Vegan Beef”?

If you’re new around here, you might wonder why vegetarians and vegans bother with “fake meat.” To me, it’s not fake. It’s plant-based delicious food that is high in protein. In this case, the main ingredient is wheat. With this seitan, I can use lots of my old favourite spice mixes, sauces, and cooking techniques that were once associated with meat in a cruelty-free way that’s delicious and full of essential nutrients. Plus, the high protein content is essential for making a meal that keeps you full! Try my Vegan Ginger Beef!

A Special Beefy Ingredient: Marmite!

If you’re not familiar with Marmite, it’s a yeast extract that, when mixed with water, tastes a lot like beef bouillon. If you don’t have Marmite, you can also use soy sauce or miso paste instead. Some viewers have told me Vegemite works like Marmite as well. 

marmite-for-beefy-seitan

More Seitan Recipes:

How to Make Beefy Beefless Seitan

This beefy seitan is super easy to make. All you do is blend all the wet ingredients together, mix with some vital wheat gluten flour to make the dough, then steam it for an hour.

Blended wet ingredients

Blended wet ingredients

This produces the dense, hearty “raw” seitan. Raw is in quotes as it’s clearly not uncooked. However, I really mean raw in the sense that it’s meant to be an ingredient to be further prepared in other ways. Sliced thinly for sandwiches or to top crackers, it’s still tasty, but this seitan can be made more tasty after a bit of searing or grilling.

Freshly steamed seitan. It doesn't look so appetizing...yet!

Freshly steamed seitan. It doesn’t look so appetizing…yet!

vegan-beefy-seitan-searing

What to make with your “vegan beef”

My absolute favourite thing to make with my Beefy Beefless Seitan is Vegan Ginger Beef! The recipe uses tender homemade beefy beefless seitan, coated in a crispy fried batter, and dressed with sweet ginger beef sauce. It’s super delicious; just like Chinese take-out ginger beef (AKA ginger fried beef or deep fried shredded beef in chili sauce).

Vegan ginger beef made with beefy beefless seitan

Vegan ginger beef made with beefy beefless seitan.

It’s great for stews too. Sear it well first, then drop into a flavourful stew and simmer just to heat up or for longer to let the stew’s flavours into the beef-style seitan.

Irish Stew featuring vegan beefy seitan.

Irish Stew featuring vegan beefy seitan.

For this sandwich, I seared the seitan first, added a couple spoonfuls of my vegan not-honey garlic sesame sauce and chopped red onion, tossed that in the hot pan and stuffed that into a fresh made fluffy flax roll.

vegan-honey-sesame-beef-seitan-sandwich

Or you can keep it simple, season with salt and pepper after pan-frying and add to a noodle bowl like this one.

vegan-beef-noodle-bowl

The possibilities are endless. Let me know in the comments what you would do with this beefy seitan!

Printable Recipe for Beefy Beefless Seitan

Yield: 1.1 lbs (500g)

Vegan Beefy Beefless Seitan

Vegan Beefy Beefless Seitan

Mary's Beefy Beefless Seitan is a classic fan favourite! This vegan beef alternative has a dense, satisfying bite (NOT rubbery) and hearty texture that makes it perfect for stewing, grilling, stir-frying, roasting, or simply slicing up for sandwiches. It has a savory flavour from mushroom stock and marmite that is reminiscent of beef but in a plant-based form that's high in protein and free of cholesterol. 

While some have been known to slice it up and eat it plain, it's best to treat this seitan as a "raw" ingredient and dress it up in traditionally meat-containing recipes. Try Mary's famous Vegan Ginger "Beef"!

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Watch the video tutorial here.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans, rinsed and well-drained
  • 1 cube mushroom bouillon (or 1 teaspoon powder)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon marmite (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (pure gluten flour), plus more if needed

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients together except the vital wheat gluten. You want the ingredients to be fairly smoothly pureed. It's OK to leave some texture in though.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the liquid with the vital wheat gluten.
  3. Stir together until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead to make sure everything is combined well. You should see the gluten strands develop and the dough should be firm and spring back easily. It should be dense and stiff; add more gluten flour if needed. See this video for a demonstration.
  4. Set up your steaming apparatus. Heat the water to a boil and oil the steaming basket so that the seitan doesn't stick. Place the seitan into the steamer, cover and steam over high heat for one hour. Do not let the water boil dry; check it regularly and add water if necessary.
  5. After one hour, remove the seitan and let it cool before slicing into cubes.
  6. This seitan can be used immediately, but the texture can be improved by searing the cubes on all sides, especially if using for stew.
  7. In a large pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. When the oil is simmering, add the cubes. Cook until the bottom is brown, about thirty seconds, then turn the cubes and repeat until all the sides are nicely browned and a bit crispy.
  8. Serve immediately, use for other dishes, or cool and store in the freezer or fridge for later use.

Notes

Marmite Alternatives

Instead of marmite, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce or 1 tablespoon of miso paste.

Storage

  • After steaming, you can cool and store the seitan in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week
  • Frozen seitan will last for 2 to 3 months.

Troubleshooting

  • If this seitan is kneaded more, it will before more firm and dense after it is cooked. If you like this, great. But it will lean more to the "rubbery" side.
  • If the seitan is gummy, it is not cooked enough! Make sure you steam over high heat for the full hour. You may even steam for an extra 15 - 30 minutes to make sure (I don't find this necessary but stoves vary and it doesn't hurt the seitan to steam longer). Let it cool down naturally and don't cut into it until it is cool. For best results, refrigerate overnight.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1/6 of recipe

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 201Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 130mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 37g

Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.

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Showing 23 comments
  • Stephanie
    Reply

    OMG Everything you make looks amazing. Now I just have to get off my butt and make some of it.

  • Tammy
    Reply

    Where would you get Marmite and mushroom boullion in Calgary? Would you happen to know which stores carry it?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Tammy,
      I get mushroom bouillon from T&T. Stores that sell Chinese and Vietnamese foods especially tend to have it. Also natural grocery stores like CNF and Planet Organic tend to carry it. Not always though.
      You can get marmite at Co-op. Probably the other major grocery stores too but that’s where I get it.
      Hope that helps. Cheers – Mary

      • Jamoe
        Reply

        I’d love to make this, but my steamer basket has the handle in the middle so I’d have to make two llittle loaves. Would the steaming time be the same or less? Thanks!

        • Mary
          Reply

          Hi Jamoe,
          Good question! I would steam for the same time just to be on the safe side. Technically, I believe it will cook faster if you divide into two loaves but seitan is just the kinda thing you never want to under cook (ew haha). Plus, there’s no downside to cooking it a little longer.
          Hope that helps
          -Mary

    • Carrie
      Reply

      I found some at World Market!

    • Jennifer
      Reply

      Grind dried mushrooms to a fine powder. That’s all it is!!!

      • Mary
        Reply

        Ground mushroom powder would be a tasty addition but it’s not a replacement for mushroom bouillon.

        • robert
          Reply

          mushroom bouillion is variable but not necessarily a clean product. It will have mushroom powder, some form of msg, sugar, salt, possibly extra spices such as onion/garlic powder, and fat. To substitute with mushroom powder, you could mix a little tamari/braggs, pinch of sugar, spices, healthy fat with the mushroom powder, basically make your own mushroom bouillion. Also maybe increase the marmite a little because that is the umami base of some mushroom bouillion brands.

  • David schwartzberg
    Reply

    Can this be done in an instant pot or pressure cooker ?

    • Sue Gervase
      Reply

      I’m wondering the same

      • Mary
        Reply

        Sure. Make sure you have a couple cups of water (or the manufacturer’s recommended amount), add the steaming rack, then the wrapped seitan dough. You’ll have to guess at the timing though. Usually pressure steaming is a bit faster than regular steaming.
        -Mary

  • kelsey
    Reply

    Amazing! Made the ginger beef and couldn’t believe how meaty it was. Me and my boyfriend ate the entire recipe in one night. lol

  • Varie Anderson
    Reply

    If I can’t get mushroom bouillon, can I use vegetable bouillon? I live in a small town and I can’t get mushroom 🙁

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes, if mushroom bouillon is impossible then vegetable bouillon is a close second 🙂 Good luck!

  • Alex
    Reply

    I don’t care for marmite and modified, 1 T shoju, 1/2 t liquid smoke, 1 1/2 T tomato paste, 1/2 t smoked paprika. Yummy.

    • Mary
      Reply

      That’s awesome, Alex! Thanks for sharing the subs. That’s sure to help others who don’t like or can’t get marmite!
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Szasza
    Reply

    Love your recipes!!! Huge thank you for sharing all your amazing recipes!!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Szasza! I really appreciate the encouragement 🙂
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Felicia
    Reply

    Can you use mushroom soy sauce if you don’t have mushroom bullion. Also can I use dark sweet soy? Tfs

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Felicia,
      Instead, use vegetable bouillon. Or a vegan beef-style bouillon.
      Cheers,
      Mary

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