Xá Xíu Chay | Char Siu Seitan

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Last month the government lifted one of the last remaining public health measures – the requirement to wear masks on public transport and trains. Though the virus continues to circulate, the pandemic now seems like a distant memory from a lifetime ago. Paris has essentially resumed its regularly scheduled programming, and the city is brimming with visitors once again.

Though life looks to be back to normal again, my routines, esprit and physical energy took a moment to catch up and return to equilibrium. I felt as though I’ve been stuck in a persistent state of stasis and apathy since last fall. My creativity and motivation to tend to even the simplest of responsibilities flatlined  Only recently have I been able to shake this post-COVID doldrums and once again find joy in getting to know my city again, preparing meals for myself, exploring new realms of creative expression, spending time with friends and meeting new folks.

This xá xíu chay (vegetarian char siu) dish came about as I was experimenting with making my own seitan. I never made seitan when I lived in the states, because it was readily available at Asian markets there. I had never seen seitan sold at any of the Asian markets here until pretty recently. But by the time I spotted them at a couple of stores, I had already learned how to make it on my own. As far as I know, there are two methods: washed flour or simply mixing wheat gluten with flour. I prefer the latter method because it’s not as labor intensive and can be made in no time.

Once the seitan has been steamed and simmered in a char siu mix, it can be served in a number of dishes, such as stir-fried chow mein noodles, steamed buns, Vietnamese sandwiches, etc. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Xá Xíu Chay | Char Siu Seitan

Ingredients

Seitan

  • 120 g wheat gluten
  • 40 g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cube kub or seasoning bouillon cube
  • 170 ml water

Xá Xíu Sauce

  • 50 g char siu mix
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • 200 ml water

Instructions

Seitan

  • Mix the flour, wheat gluten, salt and crumbled bouillon cube.
    Wheat Gluten Flour Mix | Make Seitan | Plated Palate
  • Add water and knead until all of the ingredients come together. Only about a minute or two of kneading is necessary – just enough so that the ingredients of the dough are uniformly combined. The dough will be a bit moist with an irregular surface.
    How to make seitan | Plated Palate
  • Divide the dough into 5 or 6 uniform rolls and steam for 15 minutes
    Steamed seitan | Make Seitan | Plated Palate

Xá Xíu

  • In a medium sized pot over medium heat, combine the char siu dry mix with Chinese 5-spice and water. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until well mixed and add the steamed seitan rolls. Bring to a slow boil and reduce heat to medium low.
    Xá Xíu Mix | Char Siu Mix | Plated Palate
  • Simmer covered and turn every 10 minutes to ensure all sides are evenly coated. Once most of the liquid has reduced to thick sauce, the char siu seitan is ready to serve. The seitan is easiest to slice when it's still warm.
    Xá Xíu Chay | Vegan Char Siu | Char Siu Seitan | Plated Palate

Notes

For a completely vegetarian version, omit the oyster and fish sauces. Use mushroom sauce in place of the oyster sauce and increase the soy sauce to 2 tablespoons.
The char siu seitan can be served with rice along with veggies, in a Vietnamese sandwich (bánh mi) or in steamed buns (which I’ll share in another post).
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Vietnamese
Keyword: bbq, meatless, seitan

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