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 Post subject: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam it
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:36 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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Hello, I recently bought American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin (Tami) Noyes. Last night hubby sat next to me as I flipped through the cookbook. Well when I got to the color insert of the photos he literally petted her photo of the sweet garlicky ribz (recipe on page 150). I *must* make these ribz for him now! I made another ribz recipe recently (the directions called for baking it in the oven from start to finish) but I'm eager to try this one, plus hubby did like the texture of the wheat meat.

Tami's recipe calls for steaming the ribz first for 45 minutes and then finishing them off by either grilling, using a grill pan, or using the oven.

I only have a small counter top steamer that we use for steaming brocolli, carrots, and such, so I know that Tami's ribz are not going to fit in my counter top steamer. What are you guys using to steam your seitan? And what size are they??

Really big counter top steamers like this one??
http://www.target.com/p/aroma-5-quart-f ... rm=steamer

Or a pot like this one??
http://www.target.com/p/chefmate-steame ... vertical_1

Or something else entirely? I appreciate any feedback and advice y'all can give me! I've been a vegan since early last summer and only very recently tried my first seitan recipe and I'd like to be able to try more seitan recipes. It seems the ones I'm seeing lately all are calling for the steaming method (rather than baking or boiling?) Admittedly, I don't know much about this!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and how you steam it
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:45 am 
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I use one of those cheapo fold out steamers from the grocery store. It'll lie flat in a large pot. That's probably your best bet for a thing of ribz.

If you want to practice steaming, make seitan sausages from an isa or julie hasson recipe. Both are online. Very very easy.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:03 am 
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I have a giant steamer pot that was labeled as a tamale pot. I think I got it at WalMart. It works great and fits a ton, which is perfect for me because I bulk cook on the weekends.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:38 am 
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I have a giant pot and a crappy metal colander that I use to steam (plus my cast iron skillet as a pot cover...I really need to buy a lid sometime soon. Seems to work though!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:56 pm 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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good to know y'all are using any of the fancy pricey stuff i linked to above......

is steaming the preferred method to cooking seitan? what are it's pro's or con's as compared to baking or boiling?

ijustdiedinside wrote:
I use one of those cheapo fold out steamers from the grocery store. It'll lie flat in a large pot. That's probably your best bet for a thing of ribz.

If you want to practice steaming, make seitan sausages from an isa or julie hasson recipe. Both are online. Very very easy.


do you find the need to spray the cheapo fold out steamers from the grocery store? just wondering if anything sticks to it........

and yes, someone from another post suggested julie's breakfast sausages from vegan diner, i think he/she mentioned they most likely would fit in my small countertop steamer i currently have.......

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:58 pm 
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For seitan and corn on the cob, I use a big electric steamer like the one you linked to at Target. It works really well, and you can fit a lot in there (mine even has tiers!), but it sucks that it takes up so much room, so I'm not sure I would recommend it. I only have it because a friend gave it to us!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:16 pm 
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You don't need a special steamer to steam seitan. It depends on the recipe... I have an electric rice cooker with a steamer basket, but most seitan logs or "sausage" recipes are too large to fit in there. For large logs I use a pretty DIY method... I take the bottom part of a bamboo steamer basket (like this), put it in a big pot of boiling water, prop the seitan log(s) up on the basket, and then put the pot lid back on. Bring the water at the bottom of the pot to a boil and you've got steam. Works every time! You could really use almost anything to prop up a seitan log... a metal collander, cheapo folding basket, even balls of foil if that's all you had. The idea is to prop the seitan log up out of the water and let the steam circulate around it. If you're not using something with holes on the bottom then I would turn the seitan over at least once during the cooking so it gets the steamy goodness on all sides. If you do end up getting an electric steamer make sure to get a large one, because some of those log recipes are pretty darn big! If you're steaming something really small you could use a tiered basket as it's meant to be used no problem.

You also don't usually need to worry about sticking, because typically when you steam seitan it's wrapped tightly in foil so it can't really stick to anything. Not sure what the deal is with the ribz recipe you mentioned though.

As for the pros/cons of steaming, I think it's much more foolproof than simmering. I tend to get very spongy, brainy seitan when I simmer, which is not delicious eats. Maybe I'm not kneading enough or something, but in any case, I prefer not to simmer. Steamed and baked seitans tend to have a more consistent and firm texture. I like baked seitan logs, but I don't always want to fire up the oven. If you're unsure about the amount of steaming time you can always cut it open when you think it's done, see if it's fully cooked in the middle, and if it's not wrap it back up tightly and steam longer.

edited to add: I just remembered that I actually have that book (duh) so I looked up the recipe... she also calls for the rubs to be wrapped up in foil packets. So you'd at least want something large enough to prop up a foil packet on (no worries about sticking though!)


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:43 pm 
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I have a large pressure cooker and it came with a metal trivet insert and a flat tray with holes at the bottom that rests on top of it, so it's good for steaming sausages. I do my sausages for 20 minutes at high pressure and let it come down naturally.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:33 pm 
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I have a cheap metal insert thing, and also a larger bamboo steamer basket from an Asian supermarket that cost about $1.50. I use it all the time and it works fine. That rib recipe didn't work out for me at all, though. Such a shame!

I used to steam seitan a lot, since it's definitely the easier way to do things. As someone else said, it's more foolproof, so it became pretty popular, which is why the method is used in a lot of books from around the same time. These days I much prefer simmering, though. It takes more care and attention, but I find the results infinitely better. Once you figure it out you won't go back! It was a tester recipe from Isa's upcoming book that finally, fully sold me on simmered seitan over steamed.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:02 pm 
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For the fold out insert steamer, I've never put seitan directly on it, so I don't know if you'd need to grease it. I always have my seitan wrapped in foil or cheese cloth or a tea towel. You could just put down some parchment though. The steam will still get to the seitan.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:02 pm 
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In a pinch, you can toss a heatproof bowl into the bottom of a bigger pot and throw your foil-wrapped seitan logs in there. I've done any number of nontraditional things in a pinch ;)

Mostly I use one of the fold out steamers. Don't spent a lot of money on one, minerals in the water tend to gunk 'em up after a while and I wouldn't want anything I were too attached to.

My earlier rice cookers had steaming functions (in the simple electric Indian one it was a basket that sat over the main chamber, the fuzzy logic one had a little plastic doodad you put in with some water and a steaming timer), and I LOVED that, but my zojirushi neural whateverthefancypants one doesn't. :/ But if you have a simple style rice cooker with a steaming tray, it's a great opportunity to make rice and seitan (or veg or whatever) at the same time. I used to do it a lot with my indian rice cooker and was tempted to order a couple extra steamer trays, you can stack them.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:48 am 
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I've got a couple of these steamer inserts from Ikea. They fit on a 4 liter pot and stack so I can steam a bunch of stuff at one time. They'll definitely fit loafs (I did the Smokey Seitan Roast from Vegan Diner in there) but I've never done any ribs recipes so I don't know if they'd fit.

I've only ever done steamed seitan so I can't compare it to simmered or baked. To be honest, steaming is so easy and foolproof that it's become kind of my seitan comfort zone and I haven't had the guts to try the other methods for fear of disappointment.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:10 am 
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I use a big electric steamer like the Aroma one that you posted. I've had it for ages. I love that it holds a ton of seitan and that it has a timer.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:08 pm 
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thanks again everyone for your continued replies, much appreciated!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:12 pm 
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i use an old stock pot that has a strainer insert - like for boiling pasta... sort of like this one -

http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Pasta-Cooker-Stock-Strainer/dp/B0067NMEXU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361750738&sr=8-2&keywords=pasta+stock+pot

with just enough water to come right below the bottom of the insert... it's big enough to do a roast and I like that bottom is flat and it's tall enough for 2 or 3 layers of sausages without them falling over when they swell.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:12 am 
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I use a giant pot with a pasta insert/steamer, because there's lots of space. You do have to remember to not let the water underneath it run dry, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:23 pm 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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for those of you that use the inexpensive fold-out metal steamers (i think i've seen them at the grocery store) does that metal stick thingie in the middle get in the way? or is it just an annoyance you deal with since the apparatus is relatively cheap??

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:40 pm 
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I've used them - the stick gets a bit in the way, i tend to stack on either side, and rotate halfway through if necessary. On some, you can unscrew the stick thing, too.. but then you have to let it cool completely to get the tray out of the pot.


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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:25 am 
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oh yeah I forgot about that, mine unscrews, so I take out the middle thing when I'm making a seitan loaf. and I just get it out of the pot with a towel or pot holder.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:45 am 
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Before I got a big pot with steamer trays, I would use my oven as a steamer when I wanted to make a large amount of steamed seitan.

Preheat the oven to 300-350 with an empty casserole dish placed on the bottom. Put the seitan on the baking rack, wrapped in foil like the recipe says, pour hot water into the casserole dish at the bottom and bake for the amount of time the seitan is supposed to steam. Near the end of the baking/steaming time, check whether the seitan is done. If it is not, leave it in the oven 10-15 minutes longer. This method produces a slightly firmer seitan than steaming in a pot, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:12 am 
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Cornelie wrote:
Before I got a big pot with steamer trays, I would use my oven as a steamer when I wanted to make a large amount of steamed seitan.

Preheat the oven to 300-350 with an empty casserole dish placed on the bottom. Put the seitan on the baking rack, wrapped in foil like the recipe says, pour hot water into the casserole dish at the bottom and bake for the amount of time the seitan is supposed to steam. Near the end of the baking/steaming time, check whether the seitan is done. If it is not, leave it in the oven 10-15 minutes longer. This method produces a slightly firmer seitan than steaming in a pot, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.


oh goodness, my hubby suggested something similar to this and i was like no that wouldn't work since i didn't think you could steam in the oven. eep, looks like i'm going to have to tell him that you can steam in the oven afterall ;) obviously this would be great to do in cooler weather, if i don't need to use the oven for something else, now i can see the appeal of steaming on the stove top or using a counter steaming appliance in the summer or if i need to usethe oven for something else........

now as for the specifics, on the bottom of our electric oven is the heating element so i definitely cannot put a 9" x 13" glass pryex casserole dish there! would i just lower one of my oven racks as low as it can go and put the casserole dish filled with hot water there? and then keep my other oven rack in the middle position like i usually do when i bake?

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:30 am 
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Well, your hubby and you are both right I guess. A normal oven is does not really work as steamer, but it can serve as one in a pinch, especially for stuff like the seitan, which is wrapped in foil so it won't dry out. Anything you wrap in foil and put in the oven will sort of steam in its own juices. Adding extra steam to the hot air helps to keep the food moist.

As for the water bath, I would do it like you said, put the casserole on the bottom rack and the seitan on the middle rack.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:23 am 
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I also use one of those pasta pot dealies. I find it works quite well, but like mattomic said you have to be careful that you don't run out of water on the bottom.

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and what you are using to steam
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:21 am 
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thanks everyone so much for the advice, i'm going to try to get something like this.....as it specifically says it has "tall feet" and i wonder if this particular model has taller feet than the cheaper ones at the grocery store.....?

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product ... U=14082638

and then if hubby and i really end up liking seitan, i will invest in a large countertop steamer appliance or a steamer insert for a pot. if the latter, hopefully we can find one that fits in a pot we currently have.

thank y'all again so much for your replies!

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 Post subject: Re: Talk to me about seitan and how you steam it
PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:54 pm 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
I use one of those cheapo fold out steamers from the grocery store. It'll lie flat in a large pot. That's probably your best bet for a thing of ribz.

If you want to practice steaming, make seitan sausages from an isa or julie hasson recipe. Both are online. Very very easy.


hello everyone again, i finally took measurements of our small electric countertop steamer. the actual steaming "basket" is 3.5" tall and has (it's circular) a diameter of 7.5"

first, i was wondering my electric steamer is big enough to handle julie's herbed breakfast sausage patties (page 50 in vegan diner) or any of isa's sausage recipes (vegan brunch pages 138 - 140)

secondly..... i'm going to buy one of the more cheaper fold out metal steamer basket things that you can get at the grocery store (or asian market, i'll have to remember to check!) rather than buying one online.... i'm embarassed to ask this, but when (1) i use one of those cheap metal fold-out steamer basket things, do i also put a lid on the pot? or have the lid ajar a bit?? i'm just wondering if i need to "trap" the steam......(2) if i want the elevate the fold-out steamer to be a bit taller (those legs are short!) can i tightly wad up some aluminum foil in a ring or something to help elevate the steamer out of the water?



thanks in advance!

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