This Chinese Five Spice Seitan is the meaty alternative that you’ll LOVE for topping rice, filling wraps, or layering in sandwiches. Chinese Five Spice to gives it an incredible unique, hearty flavour. The seitan is tender and juicy on the inside with a gorgeous caramelized exterior.
Video Tutorial for Vegan Five Spice Seitan
What is Seitan?
What is seitan? Not to be confused with the lord of darkness, seitan is a high-protein food made from wheat gluten (ie. not for those with gluten allergies). As traditional as a mock meat can get, its been made by Buddist Monks since the 7th century by rinsing wheat dough with water. Now, we can get the gluten without rinsing anything! Just buy Vital Wheat Gluten in the baking section of well-stocked major grocery stores, health and bulk food stores or online!
Growing up on Chinese Five Spice
Growing up, Chinese Five Spice was very familiar to me, but I only had it in restaurants, mainly in meat dishes. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I ran across it in my local Safeway. I had never looked for it, but always assumed that it would be hard to get. Not so. Since then, I’ve found it in pretty much every local chain grocery store near me. Chinese Five Spice consists of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, ginger, and fennel, though there are many regional variations that are just as authentic.
Avoid Mushy or Dry Seitan
This vegan five spice seitan is not boiled in broth (like most seitan recipes seem to be). Instead, I put the flavourings directly into the seitan dough and steam it. Then I bake/broil it to finish. This results in a moist interior while the baking gives it some bite to the exterior. While some call seitan a “mock meat,” to me, it doesn’t taste like meat…just a hearty, dense, delicious high-protein food.
You may want to make extra glaze. You can also mix it with some cornstarch, cook it, and use that as a sauce on rice or vegetables.
Are you a fan of Chinese Five Spice? I’d love to hear about how you use it in vegan cooking!
Printable Recipe for Vegan Five Spice Seitan
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cube vegan "beef" bouillon or 1 teaspoon bouillon powder
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil ( I have used canola and olive oil) [60ml]
- 2 teaspoons Five Spice Powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup soy flour [30g]
- 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten [175g]
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil or melted vegan butter [30ml]
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice [15ml]
- 1 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the seitan ingredients except for the vital wheat gluten and soy flour.
- Stir in the soy flour until completely incorporated.
- Add the vital wheat gluten and stir until a dough is formed.
- Knead the dough for a couple minutes and form into a log shape.
- Prepare a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap up the seitan. Lightly oil the center.
- Place the dough in the middle of the sheet, roll it up into a log form and tuck the ends of the foil under.
- Use the point of a knife to some vents into the roll. This will allow some steam to escape during cooking and reduce the chance of bursting.
- Steam at high heat for 40 minutes. If using a steaming basket, make sure there is enough water to last for the whole cooking time or add water periodically. If you add water during the steaming process, you'll want to add a few minutes to your cooking time for each time you add water.
- Carefully remove the seitan roll from the steamer. It will be very hot. Set it aside to cool.
- Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Whisk together all the glaze ingredients: garlic, lemon juice, brown sugar, oil or melted vegan butter, and Five Spice Powder. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
- Carefully remove the seitan from the foil and place on your prepared baking pan.
- Brush all sides of the seitan with the glaze, reserving the remaining glaze.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 350 F (175 C).
- Turn off the oven, turn on the broiler, remove the seitan and brush with more glaze.
- Return the seitan to the oven and bake under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the top is browned.
- Remove the seitan, turn it over, and brush on the remaining glaze.
- Place the seitan back until the broiler for another 3-5 minutes or until the top is browned.
- Remove from the oven and let the seitan cool a few minutes before slicing.
- This seitan is fairly tender. I like to fry the slices for a few minutes on each side to give them more of a crispy texture, but that is optional.
- The soy flour in the recipe helps the texture. If you don't have soy flour, use chickpea or any other bean flour. Alternatively, you can just leave it out but the texture will be a bit more chewy.