Meatballs are a great candidate for getting the meat substitute treatment. These seitan meatballs are so similar to the real thing you will have trouble recognising any difference.
I think the most common way we associate eating meatballs is in a rich tomato sauce with pasta or in a sub sandwich. These vegan meatballs are perfect served this way or you can give them the Swedish treatment and serve them with gravy and mashed potatoes.
If you have ever bought plant-based meatballs you’ll know they can be expensive, small and there is never enough to feed a group.
By making your own seitan meatballs you can make them any size you want, extra-large meatballs anyone, and once you have got the ingredients they work out really cheap. The recipe can be doubled, tripled for as many meatballs as your heart desires.
What Is Seitan?
If you have never heard of seitan before then you should check out this article which will tell you all you’ll need to know.
In brief, seitan is the protein part of wheat and is made from wheat flour. The protein in wheat is called gluten and it has an elastic, dense texture that is really similar to the texture of meat.
How To Make The Perfect Meatless Meatball
Seitan meatballs are designed to look and taste like regular meatballs so we need to create that texture we associate with meat and to get the savoury flavour.
These are vegan meatballs so all the ingredients are plant-based and pack in a lot of flavour.
Texture For Seitan Meatballs
The texture of seitan alone is a little too dense for meatballs, we need to incorporate some looser textures to make them more tender and crumbly.
To mimic the minced meat used in meatballs we can use textured soy protein.
Textured soy protein or TVP is a protein made from soybeans it is used as a substitute for minced meat and used in commercial catering as a meat extender. It is completely vegan and has a similar amount of protein to meat.
By combining textured soy protein and seitan we can get the crumbly, tender yet firm texture we want for our meatballs.
Flavouring The Seitan Meatballs
The way we choose to flavour the seitan meatballs needs to incorporate the savoury character of the meat itself and then also the herbs, spices and seasonings which we want to include.
To create the savoury character we can use ingredients that have an umami quality.
Umami is created with foods high in glutamates so we can use plant-based flavours that are high in glutamates to get that meaty flavour we want.
- Soy sauce
- Miso paste
- Tomato puree
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Mushroom powder / yeast extract
- Nutritional yeast
These flavours are deeply savoury, high in glutamates and salty which add a huge amount of flavour to our meatballs
We can then decide what herbs and spices to use in our meatballs depending on our preferences.
Italian meatballs might have basil, chilli flakes and garlic
Swedish meatballs might include nutmeg and allspice
Moroccan style meatballs would have cumin, coriander and chilli.
Cooking Seitan Meatballs
Cooking the seitan meatballs is really easy but it is a two-step process.
First, the meatballs are poached in a vegetable or vegan beef broth to add flavour and cook the seitan. It is really important that the poaching is really gentle. We don’t want to boil the seitan otherwise it will expand and form air bubbles.
Poaching really gently with hardly any bubbling is key to getting that dense meaty texture.
Second, the meatballs can then be allowed to cool and can be refrigerated if not used right away. To reheat we want to brown the meatballs in a little oil to give them a nice colour all over before adding any sauce we want. It is really simple.
Seitan Meatballs - Juicy, vegan meatballs
These seitan meatballs are juicy, meaty, and completely vegan. These really have the texture you want in a meatball and hold their shape really well.
- 4 tbsp textured soy protein (TVP) mince
- 4 tbsp boiling water
- 220ml water
- 6 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp mushroom extract or yeast extract
- 300g vital wheat gluten
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp vegan beef/vegetable broth powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 litres vegetable or vegan beef stock
- In a small bowl add the texture soy protein granules (TVP) and cover with the boiling water to rehydrate and set to one side
- In a medium bowl whisk together all the wet ingredients to combine
- In a large bowl mix together all the dried ingredients and the herbs you are using to flavour your meatballs.
- Add the rehydrated TVP and the wet ingredients to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix together with a spatula to form a dough. Knead for only 1 minute to combine thoroughly and then stop to avoid overworking the seitan.
- Divide the dough into around 35 - 40 balls for small meatballs. You may choose to make larger meatballs in which case divide into around 25 balls. give them a quick roll between your palms to make sure they're round.
- In a large pan or stockpot bring the vegetable or vegan beef stock to a simmer and then gently drop in the meatballs. Simmer really gently with hardly any bubbles for 15 minutes for small meatballs or 25 minutes for large meatballs
- It is important to really gently poach the seitan meatballs overwise they will form bubbles and become spongey. Simmer without any bubbling or boiling.
- Once poached remove the pan from the heat and allow the meatballs to cool in the broth.
- Once cool place the meatballs in food bags and refrigerate or for longer-term storage store them in the freezer.
- To heat the meatball it is simply a case of browning them in a pan with a little oil. You can then add any sauce or gravy you want before serving.
Keep the meatballs in food bags in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months or longer.
Defrost before browning in a little oil before adding a sauce and serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 265mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g