This vegan chicken breast is a real treat. You have the flexibility of having a large piece of protein or it can be cooked, sliced, diced and served in any manner of ways an actual chicken breast would be used.
Seitan chicken is pretty easy to make and I have seen a lot of recipes that make vegan chicken pieces or shredded chicken (I have my own here, it is really good) but hardly any for a whole chicken breast.
Seitan is a protein derived from wheat. It is this protein, along with some other ingredients that we can make a variety of mock meats from.
Wheat protein is also called gluten and it has a stringy, elastic texture that is dense and can be described as meaty.
Strong bread flour is typically around 13% protein and this protein can be separated from bread flour fairly easily. You could do it yourself at home or you could take the easy route of buying vital wheat gluten.
Vital wheat gluten (VWG)is pretty much the same as regular flour except the carbs and starch has been removed and you are left with just the protein. This VWG can be mixed with water and flavouring to form a dough that can be shaped and flavoured to achieve a really authentic plant-based meat.
I think making plant-based or mock meat this way is so much better than anything you can buy in stores.
Perfecting The Texture Of Chicken
The key to making a really good vegan mock chicken breast has to do with the texture and bite.
Seitan made with vital wheat gluten alone would actually be too firm to make a chicken breast and may end up being too dry.
We want to make a nice juicy chicken breast that has that tender quality and to do this we are going to use another plant-based protein in the form of tofu.
Tofu, of course, has been used as a plant-based protein for thousands of years and although it doesn’t have the texture of meat when combined with seitan it is has a really close resemblance to the texture and density of a chicken breast.
The vital wheat gluten and tofu combine to lighten the colour and the density of the seitan and help the vegan chicken to hold water and remain juicy rather than drying out after cooking.
Creating A Chicken Flavour In A Vegan Way
Once we have a base and texture for our vegan chicken breast we need to introduce the flavours that will complete the picture.
To create any meaty flavour we need to think about salty and savoury flavours. Glutamates introduce a savoury or umami flavour that is associated with meat and the flavour of chicken breast is fairly subtle so we only need a few ingredients to make a convincing mock chicken breast.
- Nutritional yeast is used to add a really savoury character. Along with tofu, nutritional yeast is a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. It adds not only flavour but also really boosts the nutritional benefits of this vegan chicken.
- Onion powder is savoury and high in glutamates. You may think that chicken isn’t that oniony but that is not the reason for adding onion powder. We want to boost the savoury character of the seitan and onion powder is vegan and really does this.
- Garlic granules/powder is another way to boost the umami flavour. The finished chicken breast doesn’t taste like garlic but does have that savoury quality that you find in actual meat.
- Vegan chicken stock/broth powder is a great shortcut to getting the right flavour. Vegan broth powders are really useful and so simple for introducing that chicken flavour. I use chicken stock powder in the actual seitan and also to poach the chicken breasts in.
How Much Protein Is In This Vegan Chicken?
This vegan chicken is made from seitan and tofu which are both sources of protein that have very little fat and are both low in carbohydrates.
Seitan has roughly equivalent amounts of protein to chicken and other meats, however, it is not a complete protein. Seitan is low in lysine which is an amino acid that we need to consume in our diets.
By adding tofu and nutritional yeast to our recipe which both are complete proteins these vegan chicken breasts contain all 9 essential amino acids that are found in animal or plant proteins.
Seitan Chicken Breast - Vegan Chicken
A tender, juicy chicken breast that is completely plant-based. These chicken breasts have the texture and flavour of the real thing and they hold up really well to cooking so can be used in any recipe as a replacement for chicken breast/
- 450g tofu (try and use medium-firm or firm, not silken)
- 450g vital wheat gluten
- 120ml vegetable oil
- 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp vegan chicken stock/broth powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 - 2 tbsp vegan chicken stock/broth powder
- Take the tofu out of the pack and pat dry. crumble into a food processor along with the vegetable oil, nutritional yeast, vegan chicken stock powder, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Process until completely smooth and creamy with no lumps.
- In a separate bowl add the vital wheat gluten and pour in the tofu mix. Combine with a spatula to form a dough and work until just combined.
- Split the dough into 12 pieces for medium chicken breasts. They should weigh around 115 grams each or you can estimate by eye. Shape each into a chicken breast shape or oblong patty.
- In batches fry the vegan chicken breasts in a medium hot pan with a little oil for around 5 minutes until browned on both sides. You will probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your pan. Set to one side until all the chicken breasts are browned.
- In a large stockpot add all the seared chicken breasts and then add just enough water to cover. Add the began chicken stock to the liquid and then poach the chicken breasts for 30 minutes with the lid on. You want the faintest simmer with hardly any bubbles to leave the chicken with a firm texture. A hard simmer will cause the seitan to expand and form bubbles.
- After 30 minutes remove the vegan chicken breasts from the pan and set them aside to cool. They will feel slightly soft straight after poaching but will firm up once cool. Keep in the fridge overnight to get the best texture.
- The chicken breasts can be sliced and served cold or reheated in a pan, sauce or steamed. Keep in mind they are cooked so only need reheating rather than cooking.
Keep the cooked seitan chicken in the fridge for up to seven days in an airtight container or freeze them and they will keep for months. Defrost before cooking.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 287Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 274mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 35g
How To Use Vegan Chicken Breast
These vegan chicken breasts can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken breasts.
They are already cooked so can be served cold or reheated by sauteing or adding to sauces. Just bear in mind that because they are cooked you only need to heat them and cooking for a long time will tend to dry them out or burn them.
You can slice them, cut into chunks, tear into shreds and add them to dishes this way.
They can also be breaded and battered and then fried for a fried chicken sandwich.
How To Store Seitan Chicken
Once cooked the chicken breasts can be stored in an airtight container/bag in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
As this recipe makes 12 chicken breasts you can freeze the vegan chicken in a ziplock bag. You can then get out however many you need to defrost before cooking. The seitan chicken will last for months in the freezer.