Saturday, August 27, 2016

Thai barbecue seitan sandwiches

August 20, 2016

We had a pretty quiet weekend lined up, so I decided it was time to get stuck into one of the many intriguing but complicated recipes in Street Vegan, my birthday present from Cindy. The sandwiches section of the book is filled with amazing combos, all of which require a fair amount of effort. After much debate, we settled on these rolls filled with Thai barbecue seitan ribs, pickled onions and smoky, roasted peanuts.

There are a lot of elements to these but they're all relatively simple and standalone, which means you can make them whenever you've got time - you could easily prepare the nuts, onions and sauce well ahead of eating, which would make the actual assembly trivially easy. 

We doubled the ribs component of these to make sure we had leftovers, but even then we wound up with a disproportionate amount of the barbecue sauce - don't be afraid to tweak the quantities a bit to balance things out. 

The end results were spectacular: the ribs themselves were probably a little bit on the soft side (don't be afraid to add even more gluten flour than specified in the recipe below), but that meant they soaked up the sauce very effectively, making for a tangy, smoky sandwich filling. The pickled onions and nuts added more zingy flavour and a bit of crunch - these are some impressive goddamn sandwiches. We had the leftover ribs with the barbecue sauce and some roast veggies, which worked superbly as well.

Thai barbecue seitan sandwiches
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan)

pickled basil & onions
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 bunch of Thai basil leaves
1 large red onion, sliced

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, salt, mustard seeds and sugar and bring the mix to a boil. Stir in the basil and onion. Once the mixture has come back to the boil, cover the saucepan and kill the heat. After 20 minutes or so, transfer the cooled mixture to a sealable container and set aside.

smoked chile-roasted peanuts
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
1.5 tablespoons agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1.5 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oiled baking tray. In a bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Spread the seasoned nuts onto the baking tray and roast for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid has dried up.

Thai barbecue sauce
1 cup lime juice
1 cup olive oil
1 stalk lemongrass, stripped and chopped into large chunks
1 tablespoon minced galangal
1/4 bunch of Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and stemmed
3 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup tomato paste

Put the lime juice into a medium saucepan and add in the lemongrass, galangal, Thai basil, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, tamari and the ground and fresh coriander. Bring the mix to the boil and then kill the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, along with the tomato paste and olive oil and blend until smooth.

seitan ribs
500g firm tofu
6 tablespoons tamari
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1.5 cups gluten flour (our seitan was still very soft, consider adding more)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons ground coriander
oil for frying

In a food processor, puree the tofu, onion, garlic, carrot and celery together until smooth - this took at least five minutes of blending for me, but it will depend on your equipment I guess.

In a medium bowl, combine the gluten flour with the paprika, cumin, coriander and curry paste. Mix if the blended tofu mix and knead for a minute or two until you get a reasonably dry and firm dough. Add more gluten flour as needed here - my guess is we added about another 1/4 cup.

On a cutting board, roll the dough out into a flat square - about 20cm X 20cm. Slice the square into ~15 thin strips and then cut them in half.

Heat a generous layer of oil in a frying pan until it's hot and then fry the 'ribs' in batches, turning to brown the outsides, for 5-8 minutes per batch. Top up the oil between batches if required. Pop the fried ribs onto some paper towel as you go to soak up the excess oil.

When you're ready to eat, heat the pre-fried ribs in a pan (we just used half of our batch) and, once they've warmed up nicely, pour in about a cup of the barbecue sauce. Stir everything together gently, so that the ribs get coated in the sauce and cook for a few minutes, until it fries off a bit and things aren't too liquidy.

4 long rolls
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 cups mixed green leaves

Build the sandwiches!

Start by combining the mayo and Sriracha to make a slightly spicy spread; smear it on the rolls.

Pop some greens on the rolls and then 5-6 seitan ribs. Sprinkle the pickled onion and some peanuts on top and then serve.


  1. I love this book and this recipe in particular. I flipped through the book before and was reminded how much I loved the miso teriyaki one with five spice gomasio-- gotta make it again soon. And those soups!!!

    1. Hi Veganopoulous! Miso and five-spice are flavours I'm fond of, methinks there'll be more Street Vegan sandwiches at our place.

  2. This sounds like a winner - basically pickled and smoked anything have me reeled right in. Going to bookmark this for later! :)

    1. Hi Little Vegan Bear! Hope you have fun with it - keep in mind that this seitan is very soft so see if you can reduce the liquid and/or increase the gluten flour on our attempt.