Seitan brisket is so simple to make and this recipe has all the flavour and texture of the real thing but is completely plant-based and vegan.
If you have decided to eat less meat or become vegetarian/vegan there is no reason why you have to miss out on the texture and flavour that is associated with meat.
This seitan brisket can be served hot, sliced or shredded and has a texture similar to meat that has been slow-cooked. You can also allow the brisket to chill in the fridge and it can be sliced thinly and used as a deli-meat in sandwiches and so on. The versatility of this seitan is a real virtue and just one recipe can be used for 3 or 4 meals if you choose.
What Is Seitan?
If you have never heard of seitan it sounds a bit weird. Seitan is wheat protein, it is the protein that is found in wheat flour which is also called wheat gluten. When cooked it has a dense texture really similar to meat.
The protein content of seitan is really high and by adding ingredients like nutritional yeast this brisket is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids you find in meat.
We can easily make seitan by using an ingredient called vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten (VWG) is a type of flour that has been processed to remove nearly all of the starch leaving behind just the protein.
You can often find vital wheat gluten in the baking section of supermarkets, health food shops or easily online.
As vital wheat gluten is just like flour it is really easy to incorporate flavours, herbs, spices and liquid ingredients to form a dough. This can be shaped and wrapped before cooking to give the brisket a form.
Creating Brisket With Plant-Based Ingredients
There are several variations of vegan deli-meats available in stores but they often fail to live up to expectations and a large piece of meat like a joint of brisket I haven’t found anywhere.
This seitan brisket lives up to the real thing and you can do really cool things like making a dry rub to pack in tonnes of flavour so making your own is really worthwhile.
Adding Flavour & Texture To Seitan Brisket
Bearing in mind that we are trying to make a vegan brisket we need to add really savoury flavours and create the texture and protein content you find in meat. This isn’t as hard as it sounds but it is worth sourcing the following ingredients:
- Vital Wheat Gluten
- Firm Tofu
These ingredients provide the texture and juiciness we are looking for in the brisket
- Nutritional yeast
- Marmite / Mushroom powder
- Vegan beef broth / vegetable broth powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Soy Sauce
- Miso Paste
- Dried thyme
These ingredients boost the flavour and are savoury flavours that are high in glutamates. Glutamates provide that umami quality to food and this is what we need to give our brisket the savoury quality of meat.
To make the colour more akin to beef we can use liquid browning. This is what is added to darken gravies and we only need to add a teaspoon or so to darken the seitan to look more like brisket.
Combining The Ingredients For Our Brisket.
To create the texture we are looking for we can use a food processor. This is needed to break down the tofu into a smooth paste and then knead the vital wheat gluten. It is difficult to process the tofu to a smooth enough paste without a blender or food processor so this is really needed.
The easy thing about this brisket is that all the work is done in the food processor. You add the wet ingredients, blitz and then the dry ingredients with the vital wheat gluten and this can be kneaded in the food processor with the cutting blade. You could knead the seitan dough by hand but it will take around 10 minutes of fairly hard kneading to achieve the correct texture.
Wrapping & Cooking Seitan Brisket
Once you have combined the ingredients and kneaded the seitan it can be shaped into the shape you want. Typically brisket is a slab of meat but we can make ours as thick or thin as we want.
I like to shape mine into a compact, oval pebble shape as this is good for both a pull apart, shredded brisket if served hot or is good for slicing nice thin slices when cold and used in sandwiches.
Once you have the shape you want, wrap the brisket in lightly oiled foil and then this is baked in a moderate oven. Seitan expands when cooked so we need to keep the temperature low so it doesn’t over-expand and wrapped in foil to limit the expansion.
If you cook the brisket in a high oven it will form air bubbles and the texture won’t be quite right so keep the oven at a moderate heat.
Creating A Dry Rub For Your Vegan Brisket
If you want to add more flavour to your brisket you can give the outside a coating of herbs and spices. This works particularly well if you are slicing the brisket for subs, sandwiches, etc.
Create your own dry rub from your favourite herbs and spices, a store-bought one or I have included one in the recipe below.
- 150g firm tofu
- 240ml water
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 2 tsp marmite / mushroom powder
- 1 tsp vegan beef broth/vegetable broth powder
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp liquid browning
- 230g vital wheat gluten
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp cracked pepper
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Drain and press the tofu for 10 minutes. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and press with a heavy pan if you don't have a tofu press.
- Break the tofu into pieces and add to the bowl of a food processor along with the veg oil, soy sauce, miso paste, marmite or mushroom powder, vegan broth powder, nutritional yeast, liquid browning and water. Blitz to combine and completely break down the tofu. This may take a minute or two but we want a really smooth consistency.
- Once completely smooth add the vital wheat gluten, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Blitz a few times just to combine the ingredients and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- After ten minutes run the food processor to knead the dough. It may break into pieces but should have a dough-like consistency. Process for 1 - 2 minutes until smooth.
- Remove the seitan from the food processor and roughly shape into a ball and then place in a bowl, covered to rest for one hour.
- Prepare a dry rub if you are using one by combing the spices in a bowl and setting to one side.
- After an hour the seitan will be relaxed and easier to shape. I shape mine into a compact oval log but you could make a slab if you prefer. Lightly oil the outside of the brisket and place it onto an 18 x 18-inch piece of foil.
- Pre-heat an oven to 160 Celcius / 320 Fahrenheit.
- Cover the brisket with the dry rub, if using, on all sides. Wrap the brisket in the foil fairly tightly and secure the sides. Wrap in another layer of foil and place in the center of the oven on a tray.
- Bake for 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 82C / 180F. Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 - 15 minutes.
- If shredding you can break the brisket in half and tear strips following the grain as much as possible. The strips can be broken into as smaller pieces as you like.
- For a meatier texture and to slice as deli-meat allow to cool and then refrigerate. The brisket will firm up enough to be sliced really thin.
The brisket will last up to 7 days in the fridge wrapped up or in an airtight container.
For longer storage place in food bags and freeze for 3 months or longer.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1142mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 27g