Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chipotle BBQ Seitan Tacos with Jicama Slaw

Have I mentioned my love for tacos? Not just traditional Mexican tacos, but tacos of all variety. I discovered while working in a restaurant that almost anything tastes good in a grilled flour tortilla. Anything. Also, tacos are a great way to make any food portable. There was no time for a fork and a plate during dinner service. The forks were for the customers.

First, let's talk about seitan. Seitan (say-tan) is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. It is traditionally used in Chinese dishes (often listed as "gluten"), and is a favorite among vegan foodies. Of all the meat replacements, seitan has the "meatiest" flavor. When cooked well, it can come close to the flavor of beef or chicken, and has a fantastic texture. Unfortunately, store-bought seitan, while delicious, is very expensive. I have been looking for a good homemade seitan recipe lately, and found this one from vegweb that I am pretty satisfied with. I tried a number of recipes, and this one is by far the easiest. Most of the other ones I have tried called for a lot of kneading, which is way too close to baking, as far as I am concerned. This recipe produces light, fluffy seitan steaks that can be used for a number of recipes.

Today, I had an opened can of chipotles in adobo. If you have never worked with these before, they are a fabulous culinary shortcut. The chipotles (smoked jalepenos) are canned in a red sauce that typically contains tomato puree, paprika, salt, onions, oil, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and oregano. A tablespoon of these chilis in their sauce can add a huge kick and a sweet, smokiness to whatever you are making. I use it in sauces, salad dressings, soups - whatever.

To finish the tacos, I went with a jicama slaw (adapted from a recipe at my old kitchen job) to cool down the spicy seitan, and add a creamy crunch. These are a crowd-pleaser - super messy and completely delicious. Enjoy!

Chipotle BBQ Seitan Tacos with Jicama Slaw

BBQ Ingredients
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 can chipotles in adobo, more if desired
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 cloves garlic
to taste salt & pepper

Slaw Ingredients
2 cups jicama, grated
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 limes, juiced
3 tablespoons vegan mayo
2 teaspoons dijon
salt & pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons sugar

Taco Ingredients
2 cups shredded homemade or store-bought seitan
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (canola or safflower work also)
8 small flour tortillas, slightly grilled
1 avocado, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro

1. In a food processor, combine BBQ ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste for heat, and adjust if necessary. Remember that the seitan will end up in a taco with a cooling slaw on top, so make your sauce a little spicier than you think you want.
2. In a medium bowl, combine slaw ingredients. It is best to use your hands for this, as the jicama can stick together and prevent incorporation. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt/sugar level to taste.
Squeeze any excess moisture from the shredded seitan. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high. Once oil is hot, saute seitan until somewhat crispy. Pour 1 cup BBQ sauce in the skillet and mix thoroughly. Allow BBQ to cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue to add BBQ sauce until all seitan is heavily coated. Cook for an additional 2 minutes until BBQ sauce starts to burn slightly. Remove from pan immediately.
4. Fill flour tortilla with bbq seitan and jicama slaw, and garnish with a few slices of avocado and some fresh cilantro.


  1. I've only tried seitan once & hated it! I got it at whole food's hot bar & I don't know if it was the texture that put me off or what, but it was terrible. These tacos make it sound delicious though, maybe I should give it another try.

  2. @Carolina - Try, try again! It really is fantastic. Whole foods hot bar can be sitting out for a while. Purchase some, saute it in a little olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper and try it plain first. so good!

    @Catie - thanks!!!!