The France Show is coming to London next weekend, so after a Scottish-inspired recipe last time, here’s something a bit French – I seem to be slowly working my way round Europe one recipe at a time (at least it’s cheaper than flying).
The France Show is a celebration of all things French – including, most importantly, the country’s food and wine. So I thought this was as good a time as any to set free my inner Rébecca (who I imagine to wear a beret and be far classier than plain old Becca), and share a traditional French recipe. I had a bit of trouble deciding what to make – a classic French quiche? A rich vegetable ratatouille? Tartiflette, cassoulet, fondue?! French food has so much going for it – so many beautiful rich flavours.
In the end, I settled on making seitan steak frites. It’s inspired by the classic French dish, which is basically just steak served with frites (aka chips, aka French fries). It’s a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of recipe.
Obviously I didn’t use ‘real’ steak – I made a homemade seitan steak, which was actually surprisingly easy! I kind of merged together about five different seitan recipes to come up with my own version. I imagine it’s the kind of thing I’ll tweak and change a little every time I make it, but this was a great starting point.
The seitan steak has a chewy texture which, in all honesty, probably isn’t exactly the same as meat. But, for a vegetarian or vegan who just wants something meaty to chew on every now and then, it was great. It does use a couple of ‘weird’ ingredients – vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast – which I generally try to avoid using in my recipes. But sometimes I guess I just feel like getting a bit weird.
To give my seitan steak a bit of extra French flavour, I made an easy mustard and tarragon sauce to drizzle over the top – two classically French ingredients. It helps to keep the seitan steak nice and moist, and gives it a real punch of flavour. If you’re not a fan of tarragon (it’s quite aniseedy, which I know can be controversial), I’d recommend trying sage or rosemary instead. And don’t forget a nice chunk of crusty French baguette on the side to mop up any leftover sauce!
If you’re interested in finding out more about The France Show, which is coming to the Olympia in London this weekend (27th – 29th January), check out their website. You can also go here to get reduced price tickets – just £5 each (plus a tiny booking fee!). If you attend, you’ll be able to enjoy tutored wine tasting, live cooking demonstrations, a French market full of goodies, and even cancan dancers!
Just make sure you bring me back some French cheese!
- 190 g vital wheat gluten (~ 1 1/4 cups)
- 55 g chickpea flour (~ 1/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 250 ml vegetable stock (~ 1 cup)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter for frying
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped (remove any woody stalks)
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 tbsp single cream
- 6 tbsp water
- Black pepper
In a large mixing bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, and plenty of black pepper. Mix well. Add the soy sauce, ketchup and vegetable stock, and mix thoroughly to form a dough (it might be easier to mix with your hands).
With clean hands, knead the dough for 1-2 minutes to activate the gluten. The dough should be fairly wet, but not sticky.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces, and flatten each piece into the shape of a steak.
Bring a large pan of water to a gentle boil, and add the seitan steaks and a bay leaf. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan or they may stick together - if you don't have a very large pan, use two smaller pans instead. Gently boil the steaks for about 30 minutes.
Heat a knob of butter and a dash of oil in a large frying pan, and add the boiled seitan steaks. Again, don't overcrowd the pan - use two pans if needed. Fry the steaks over a fairly high heat for about 5 minutes each side, until golden brown and crispy.
To make the mustard tarragon sauce, melt 1 tbsp butter over a low heat, and add the chopped tarragon and minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the mustard and cream, along with a splash of water, and stir gently to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes, until hot and well combined, then season to taste.
Serve the seitan steaks with the mustard tarragon sauce and homemade chips (fries).
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for one seitan steak with sauce.