Friday, July 11, 2008

Vegan Reuben Sandwich

I enjoyed yesterday's reuben sandwich so much I decided to try my hand at making my own. Fantastic success! The vegan corned beef turned out far better than expected. But first, I had to find out exactly what corned beef is. How can corn be an adjective? As it turns out, the corn in this case refers to the large grain salt used to cure beef brisket. The whole process takes about 10 days. Well, this version takes only one hour and tastes fabulous. The key is the seasoned salt and the smoked paprika. If you don't have smoked paprika, use regular paprika and add a few drops of liquid smoke.

Vegan Corned Beef
- 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp dried mustard
- 4 dried juniper berries, crushed into powder (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

Get water on its way to steaming in your steamer
1. Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth. Add everything else except the wheat gluten and process.
2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the wheat gluten with a fork. Knead for a minute or so to get everything mixed.
3. Shape into a rectangle (about 8" x 5") and wrap in foil. Double fold the seams so the seitan will steam properly.
4. Steam for 45-60 mins. The seitan must swell against the foil, so make sure that happens before you remove it from the steamer.
5. Let cool and bit, then thinly slice for the sandwich.

Vegan Reuben Sandwich
- thinly sliced vegan corned beef
- sauerkraut, squeezed dry
- Thousand Island dressing (1/4 cup Vegenaise, 1 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp relish or minced pickle)
- vegan cheese (optional)
- light rye bread
- vegan margarine

1. "Butter" two slices of bread (like you are doing a grilled cheese sandwich). Slather some dressing on a piece of bread and top with corned beef. Top that with some sauerkraut and cheese (if using). Top with more corned beef, dressing, and the top piece of bread.
2. Cook for a few mins per side on a griddle until nicely browned.


VeganView said...

Vegan Dad~ You are one of my inspirations to start a vegan blog. I am not a cook like you (very few are!) but I would love it if you would check out my link. I think you could find it at the least amusing and entertaining with some easy meal ideas.
It would be an honor!

Thanks, and I hope you have a good weekend!

Lindsey said...

Wow! Thanks for posting this! Corned beef used to be the only meat that I used to really enjoy eating, so I can't wait to try this.

Is that supposed to be 1-1/4 CUPS of vital wheat gluten?

Vegan Dad said...

Yes, cups.

Endearing said...

I am so anxious to try this! But, I don't have a steamer (in fact, I don't know what that is except for the little metal flower you put in a pot to steam veggies). Could this be baked or some other substitution? Thank you!

Rachel said...


I had a vegan reuben at a restaurant and it was so good, I've been craving it for weeks. I think I'm going to have to try this out!

Vegetation said...

Mmmmm this looks yummy (and better than that, easy!).

Chickpeas don't agree with me so much, do you think it would work using another type of bean like Cannelini?

Michelle said...

Wow. This looks great and very do-able. I just want to tell you that, thanks largely to your blog, I have not purchased any Boca or Morningstar Farms meat analogs in months. Your recipes are so delicious and useful! I hope that you continue to have an enjoyable trip. Thanks for blogging all the way through it. :0)

Sharon R said...

I was definitely a pastrami & corned beef lover (in the past) & would love to try this recipe. I don't have juniper berries; they sound good but I don't remember seeing them at the market or Trader Joes... maybe Whole Foods carries them?? Maybe I'll omit them as they are optional.
You're getting to be a real pro at devising "faux meat" recipes. And that's really inspiring!

Nikki Douglas said...

I once made a tempeh reuben that was the bomb and since my fear of seitan (that sounds a little funny)I think I would go that route again. I will have to do it up sometime. I really liked it. I think I got it from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Vegan Dad said...

You can buy an electric steamer (they are usually plastic, have a water resevoir, a perforated steaming tray, and a lid), but I just use the perforated insert that came with my stock pot. Or, you can get a bamboo steamer and use it with your wok. I'm sure you could bake this as well (around 325-350) for about 1 hour, but it will come out drier than the steamed version.

Vegan Dad said...

Any white been will do here, I just find chickpeas are a bit heartier. But, I usually use cannelini in my sausages so they will work just fine in this recipe.

Vegan Dad said...

I forgot to mention to bake the seitan in the foil, otherwise it really will dry out! Like with the steaming, the seitan needs to swell against the foil before it is taken out of the oven.

Vegan Dad said...

sharon r,
I used dried juniper berries I picked up in the spice aisle.

VegMomma said...

Well, thanks for de-mystifying the Reuben Sandwich! I've never had a real reuben (or corned beef, for that matter), but I think I will try yours!

Maggie said...

Reubens are my favorite! I'm a total sucker for sauerkraut.

On another topic, I was thinking that your cookbook should be a pretty Blurb book.
(No, I don't work for the company.) But Blurb looks like a good product that would showcase your pretty photos.

Caroline said...

hi there!
your recipes and pictures always make my mouth water!
one thing i was wondering is - how many servings would you say this loaf of seitan makes? that way i can plan ahead...
i've had good luck with freezing leftover seitan, too...
mmmm reubens....

Vegan Dad said...

It really depends on how much meat you put on a sandwich, but this recipe will give you at least 6 sandwiches (and as many as 8, I would think).

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy! I've done meatless-meatless reubens in the past: grilled rye bread with warmed 'kraut and sliced avocados. I never ate corned beef back in my omni days (decades ago!) so I'm quite curious about this.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow,

I am going camping in a week, and I think this would be a great recipe to make in a pie iron. This looks delicious!

Jamie the Foodie said...

vegan dad,
you amaze me! i am yet to try your sandwich meat recipe, but i am excited to try this! i used to work at a deli & had my own version of a reuben & one of the things i did was to add steamed/grilled onions to it--yummy!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

Vegan Dad, I am so glad you posted this! I've been wanting to make a homemade vegan reuben for ever and ever since I tried a few at some vegetarian restaurants. Your picture is awesome too; looks delicious!

Michelle said...

I just made this Reuben and it was even better than I had expected (and I was expecting it to be great!) Thank you so much for the perfect recipe!

Erin said...

I always wondered what corned beef was, exactly. I make faux reubens with tofurkey cause it makes no difference to me - the dressing and kraut are what matter. But this sounds very good too!

danakscully64 said...

My boyfriend is going to fall in love with you after eating this :) I plan on making it soon, Rubens are his favorite sandwich of all time. I buy Worthington Corned Beef, but it's not vegan and would prefer something that is. Thanks for sharing!

PS: I bookmarked your blog :)

Jenny said...

I made these tonight. They were phenomenal. I have never made seitan before and this was so simple. Just steam and forget about it for about an hour. I had two sandwiches and felt utterly satisfied with every bite. Thanks, Vegan Dad!

Ron said...

I finally made this yesterday after finding some juniper berries.

The recipe came out perfectly and that was the problem: my vege family of four years couldn't eat it because we all agreed it was WAY too close to the texture, taste, appearance and smell of meat. This is despite liking mock meat products such as crumbed schnitzel which we eat regularly.

Today I bought some chutney and pickles to see how close it came to what I remembered as a 'corned beef and pickles (or chutney)' sandwich and it was so close it was scary.

Anyway, the wife and children have said it's not something they would like to try again.

You can't win them all! :-)

AuntieCake said...

I don't know what happened, but this turned out horribly for me. It smelled exactly like that Smart Bacon (which is just wrong when making a reuben) and it turned out very rubbery. I looked like I could have bounced it on the floor a few times. I baked it cause I don't have steaming equipment, but I don't think that was the problem. Once again, a recipe using wheat gluten fails. I'm gonna stick with my labor-intensive method of washing wheat flour and simmering for 2 hours. *sigh*

Vegan Dad said...

Auntie Cake,
I think the Smart Bacon problem can be solved by using less smoked paprika, or just regular paprika. The seasonings are up to you, really--these are just my suggestions. As for the rubber texture, I have found that these seitan creations need to be gently steamed. Too hot too fast leads to rubber. Adjust the cooking time and temp. As for baking, I would be inclined to "steam bake" it:

domestipithecu said...

I made the corned beef recipe last night and made corned beef hash with it. Just chopped it up into uneven small pieces and fried it up with some salt, pepper, horseradish and onions. Oh my it was heaven. Not exactly like I remember the meat version (it's been years so...), but very yummy. My husband declared just a few minutes ago as he was eating the leftovers, "This is even better cold the next day!"

Thank you so much for all your recipes (and your cookbook!). I know that when I try a new one from you that we will almost definitely love the finished product!

Anonymous said...

I clicked the link for Seasoned salt and was taken to the McCormick page....ok, they have a gazillion types, which is good for this recipe

sm said...

vegan dad

this is a great recipe. we are eating our sandwiches with sauerkraut and your 1000 island. delicious! thank you.

girlgoingvegan said...

we made these tonight - it was my first attempt at seitan - it was so easy! and tastes great! However it was also my first time trying sauerkraut and will be my last. I enjoyed my sandwich with just the sauce :)

leslie said...

man, every recipe of your's i make comes out AMAZING!

i made two batches of this for a st. pat's party last night. omnivores who had never had seitan before were going back for third helpings!

just now, i made a reuben with the few remaining leftovers - so so great. everyone who loves seitan or sandwiches needs to try this now!

Hannah said...

I made this last night for me and my non-vegan boyfriend, and it was amazing. My first attempt at seitan too!

It was really easy, but I read above that this load should make at least 6 sandwiches. We will get 4, tops, and that's not overdoing on the serving size. How deep was your 8x5 loaf??

Thanks for a great recipe!

Vegan Dad said...

I slice the seitan pretty thinly, and the rye bread I make is a small loaf. You could 1.5 the recipe, but may have to steam it longer.

Kellie said...

What do I use as a steamer?

Vegan Dad said...

Brenda W. said...

I've made this recipe numerous times and just love it.

Today, I tried a new variation after reading a post by "Zoa" at The Airy Way.

When making a seitan recipe from "The Real Food Daily" cookbook, she replaced the cannellini beans with OKARA!!

I'm always looking for ways to use up okara, since I make both soymilk and tofu. I replaced the 1/2 cup of garbanzos with the amount of okara from one batch of soymilk (approximately 3/4 cup). I was going to just use 1/2 cup to equal the volume of garbanzos, but since the object was to use up the okara, I figured I'd see what happens when I use the entire amount.

Zoa mentioned that she dried the okara before using it. Not wanting to put in that much time, I just wrung it out in cheesecloth really, really well, so that the end result was an only mildly damp glop of okara that had no moisture visible at all.

I used a blender to puree the water, okara, and juniper berries (saved the work of crushing them to a powder). After letting the blender run on high for a couple minutes, I then dumped in all the spices and once mixed, poured all that into the vital wheat gluten in the food processor to mix into a dough.

My recommendation for folks that have okara to use up is to substitute it in any seitan recipe that calls for beans or chickpea flour. Just be sure to wring it out in cheesecloth so it is as completely dry as possible.

Well ... the end result was perfect! I noticed no change in the end product from other times I've made this recipe.

Andrea said...

Love your blog, but this just didn't work out for me. I have never steamed seitan before, but I did and it seemed so soggy that I baked it with the same glaze I used to use on corned beef. It was still very damp and bready. Now we were using this as part of a St Paddy's dinner, not on Reubens. I'll slice up the leftovers for sandwiches tomorrow and see how that goes.

Elyse said...

Made this a few nights ago...huge hit! We aren't big sandwich people but this will definitely go into the rotation...yum!

tone said...

Hi Vegan Dad,

I think your blog (and you) are pretty amazing. Though I have been vegan for 11 years, I have not really cooked anything away from simple. I would love to try this. When steaming, do you cover the pot or do you open steam it? I will definitely report back after I give this a go. Attempted seitan once by boiling it. Gave it to the neighborhood kids playing hockey to use as pucks;)Thank you for sharing all your amazing hard work with us.


keNi said...

this was great! i might use half the cloves and allspice next time, but this really rocked, my omni husband even woke up and made one for breakfast with the leftovers! great stuff!

Clay K. said...

Frustrated!! I steamed it but the seitan feels awfully soft after it came out! I expected it to be tougher and resemble meat. Also, in one of the comments you mentioned baking it? Are we baking or steaming it?

Mz Spider said...

Stupid question. Is the water in the recipe for the steaming or for the seitan?

Sarah Sullivan said...

Wow, this is awesome! I omitted the juniper berries and added a bit of extra onion and garlic powders. I didn't anticipate it would firm up so significantly when cooled, so I cooked mine the full hour but would go with 45 minutes next time for a softer texture. The seasoning is spot-on for corned beef. Have loved eating this on sandwiches, and also have used it to top pizzas. Thanks so much!

Fair said...

Hi Vegan Dad,

Your link for seasoned salt just goes to the McCormick main page... Any suggestions for a sub?


Laverne said...

Should the chick peas be soaked?

Shannon said...

I made this today for St. Patrick's Day and it really defied my expectations. So so good! Thanks for the fabulous recipe! Oh and I used pinto beans because I had some in the fridge that needed to get used. Next time I'll try with chickpeas.

Rebecca said...

I just made this and it was super easy and turned out great. To answer Mz Spider, the water goes in the recipe.

When I make this again, and I certainly will, I will double the amount of dry mustard and smoked paprika. It was a little too clove and allspice tasting for me, but if you omitted them, it would be bland, so this is why I would "kick up" the other seasonings.

This reminded me of the consistency of an expensive Tofurky that is around the holidays. I will likely make modifications to make my own this year from this recipe.

Thank you for posting!