Jul 4, 2011

jerk seitan


After all these grill recipe testings for Tami Noyes for her upcoming cookbook, Grills Gone Vegan, I guess the grilling bug has bit me. I have always been a jerk fan - whether it was because of the heat of the dish or the call of the islands; jerking has been something I've been wanting to make as authentically as possible.

I've tried my hand at jerking potatoes and chickpeas, but this time I wanted to up the ante. I am working on creating much simpler seitan recipes and this dish uses a variation of Tender Seitan. This seitan turned out really well and I will post it as soon as I am sure about it. The recipe uses only 5 ingredients. Gotta like that!

I have been researching Jamaican jerking recipes and techniques and they have a few things in common: scotch bonnet peppers, allspice and grilling or low baking. Since seitan is already cooked, I figured the low-and-slow approach did not apply here. So I went for grilling, which, thanks to Tami, has become second nature. I think I even grill in my sleep. Nothing like having tasty dreams.

Allspice (or pimento) is necessary. In fact, get whole dried berries, not the ground, and grind it yourself. And add a few berries to the charcoal or wood chips as well. Jerking used to be done over pimento wood, so this might add some more authenticity.

I couldn't find scotch bonnet peppers, so I used habaneros (again, thanks to Tami, for making habaneros not as intimidating as they used to be). There is some argument that habaneros are not close enough to scotch bonnets and you NEED the scotch bonnets!! By golly. I'm not sure about that and I will need to find scotch bonnet peppers to confirm or refute these claims, but for now the only thing that IS certain is that you cannot use jalapenos or other peppers. First off, jalapenos (which seem to be the go-to hot pepper) are not as hot as habaneros or scotch bonnets, but more importantly it is a different kind of heat - jalapenos are sharp, intense and instant, habaneros are a lingering, slow heat in the back of the mouth. Very different. At least use habaneros. And wear gloves if you have sensitive skin.

Overall, this was an excellent rendition of jerk seitan and my next stop on the way to Jamaican Jerking will be with the scotch bonnets. In the meantime, use the Jerk Marinade here (recipe updated to reflect the habanero), marinade your seitan for about an hour and grill away. The more smoke you have (wood chips, allspice berries, and over charcoal), the more authentic. That is, since not too many American homes have an oil drum grill in their backyards. But if you do, make sure to use it.

Cost Breakdown:

seitan: $2
peppers and spices: $1
oil, lime, herbs: $1
Total to make 4 servings:


  1. I would highly recommend "Carribean Vegan" by Taymer Mason if like me you are a habenero/scotch bonnet lover (I use them interchangeably depending on what I can find). She has some excellent dishes in there. And I'm looking forward to seeing the seitan recipe!

  2. Thanks, Liz. I have ordered it and it is on its way. Since you have experienced both habanero and scotch bonnet, are they too different? I'll send you the seitan recipe after I confirm it wasn't a fluke :)

  3. I've loved your jerk dishes to date.

  4. I don't find them too different but what does vary more is the level of ripeness of them. Sometimes my Indian shop has them green, sometimes they've gone yellow thought most often they're red. Then you get the differences like you do with bell peppers.

  5. At first I thought it was another teaser (tester) recipe... :)
    (The grill marks, you know?)
    Anyway, looks awesome, and will be making it this weekend.

    I too would love to see the revised tender seitan recipe if and when it's ready for the public.

    Thanks for what is sure to be another winner!

  6. Follow up:
    The Jerk came out great. Much better than the store bought one.
    Next time will add a bit more fluid is the only change I'd make.
    Thanks again!

  7. That looks wonderful! I love jerk.

    So glad you're going to the Food Network Friday after all! I'll include you.

  8. Thanks, Tender Branson!

    Another thanks, in2insight! for trying and reporting back!

    ...and thanks, Tami. Now the pressure is on :)


Thanks for your comment! I'll check if it's spam and post if it is not. I appreciate your time and effort for commenting! ~ Zsu