Raydel Hernandez's Homemade Seitan (and my Drunken Memories of Cuba)
I was recently gifted a copy of Raydel Hernandez's "It's Delicious, it's Vegan, it's Cuban" cookbook.
Naturally, I was pretty stoked to skim through it. I love adding new vegan cookbooks to my collection. But this one in particular got me excited because I had been to Cuba once and despite having the time of my life there, I remember thinking just how incredibly non-vegan most of the food was.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about Cuba from the beautiful, sandy beaches to the smoking hot archery instructor at my resort.
The first day of my 7-day family vacation in Cuba...
You're damn right my archery skills significantly improved that week, this being the last night of my trip:
Yes, the hot & spicy memories of Cuba are flooding back to me as I type this blog post. But sadly, the food memories pale in comparison because so many of the authentic Cuban dishes I saw were so heavy on the animal products.
But thanks to Raydel Hernandez, a first-generation Cuban American, in 2020, he took all of his grandmother's authentic, distinctly Cuban family recipes that spanned over generations and veganized each and every one of them for all of us plant eaters to enjoy!
From churros and traditional "Cubano" sandwiches to the infamous "Cuba Libre" rum & coke recipe that I might've drank wayyyyyy too many of (no thanks to archery instructor...) this cookbook literally provides a vegan option for every famous Cuban recipe you could possibly think of.
And as bland and boring as this may sound, the one that instantly appealed to me (and I cooked almost immediately) was Raydel's neutral-flavoured seitan that was basically the go-to vegan meat featured in almost every recipe.
Yes, I almost feel bad sharing THE most plain and boring recipe in the whole damn cookbook. BUT let's not forget that this IS a vegan bodybuilding blog. And anyone reading this knows I'm all about the high protein recipes that don't go too crazy on the fats and carbs. And this recipe is macro perfection, people! Not to mention the recipe makes enough to feed a jacked vegan bodybuilder for an entire week!
I also love how versatile it is and I know my clients will too. So whether you want to slice it up to use in a "ropa vieja" (Raydel's suggestion for us macro-conscious meatless meatheads) or go all out and whip up a fat and carb-laden Cuban pot pie aka "El Pastel de Pollo y Espinaca," this simple seitan recipe goes a long way and can literally be used for any and ALL of your vegan meat needs. Much like the archery instructor...
Alright, I think I've embarrassed myself and archery instructor enough already... So without further ado, here is your new fave seitan recipe:
Raydel Hernandez's Simple Seitan from "It's Delicious, it's Vegan, it's Cuban"
Makes about 2 lbs.
2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
2 cups water
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
Extra water as needed
In a large mixing bowl, place all of the dry ingredients together (excluding the bay leaf) and mix them up, ensuring that all of the spices get evenly distributed.
Add to the dry mixture: the olive oil and 2 cups of water. Begin to stir with a wooden spoon and mix the ingredients into rough-looking dough. Using your hands, knead the dough for approximately 3-5 minutes, mixing it well. (When you are done, it should be smooth and have the stretchy consistency of pizza dough.)
Place a clean cloth or cheesecloth on your kitchen counter and place the "dough" onto the south end of the cloth. Begin to roll the dough into the cloth, up towards the north end. ***I didn't have a cheesecloth on hand so I broke mine into two pieces and wrapped both in aluminum foil.*** Whatever the way you roll your seitan, it/they should look like long tubes or small footballs. Tie the ends with kitchen string if doing the cloth roll and twist the ends if doing foil.
For the final step, there are two ways to cook the seitan depending on your time frame and kitchen tools...
Cooking Method #1
The fastest way is to place the entire rolled up dough into a pressure cooker (I used my Instant Pot). Then add to the pressure cooker: the bay leaf, 4 cups of vegetable broth and more water if needed to submerge the seitan completely. Cover and lock the pressure cooker lid in place. Put the pressure regulator on the vent pipe. Heat the cooker over high heat until the regulator starts to whistle and spin, indicating that high pressure has been reached. Once the regulator starts its whistle, cook the seitan under pressure for 30 minutes. After the cooking time has passed, turn the heat off and allow the cooker to cool. Unlock the lid, discard the remaining water and remove the finished seitan. Unwrap it from the cloth or foil while still warm then allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, cut and shape into medallions or strips etc.
Cooking Method #2
If you don't have a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot, follow the same steps above but use a pot instead. Add the bay leaf and 4 cups of vegetable stock, along with enough water to submerge the seiten completely, about 2 - 3 inches deep. Boil the seitan in an uncovered pot for two hours then discard the remaining water, and remove the finished seitan. Unwrap it from the cloth/foil while still warm, then allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, cut and shape into medallions or strips etc.
- Sam Shorkey, Jacked on the Beanstalk