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Seitan, yam and caramelized onion tacos

Poquitos on Capitol Hill has wonderful ambiance (love the over-the-top wrought iron decor), great drinks, and killer guacamole.

Their vegan selection isn’t amazing, but the kitchen produces some mighty fine yam tacos. However, yam and tortilla isn’t super filling — you need some protein.

Seitan works well with corn tortillas — there’s so much wheat in seitan that you need to pair it with a contrasting grain.

I’ve made seitacos before, but generally have mixed feelings about homemade seitan –it always seems a little squishy to me, and I prefer a firmer bite.

However, reader Sarah mentioned that simmering seitan instead of boiling it will improve the texture. Isa says:

The biggest mistake made by young, aspiring seitan makers is boiling instead of simmering. Boiling is great if you’re trying to create fake brains, but for all other purposes, a gentle simmer will create the tender chunks of seitan that are perfect for slicing and sauteeing.

So, here is a new and improved, winter-friendly seitaco recipe.

Don’t forget the avocado, for a little added creaminess.

Seitan, yam, and caramelized onion tacos

Makes 6 tacos — 2 each for 2 people for dinner, and lunch the next day for 1 person


  • 1 batch seitan (below)
  • 1 large (10 oz) yam
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • a sprinkling of sugar
  • olive oil
  • 2 TBS Chohula sauce (or to taste)
  • lime, cilantro, vegan sour cream, and avocado
  • 12 small corn tortillas


  1. Cut the yam into small cubes and place in a bowl. Coat with olive oil, add salt (to taste — 1/4 tsp or so) and roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until yam is soft and starting to caramelize.
  2. Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a frying pan; when it’s hot, add onion and saute until onion softens and browns. Sprinkle with a few dashes of granulated sugar, and remove from pan.
  3. Add more oil or cooking spray to the pan and saute cubed seitan for 5 minutes. Coat with Chohula sauce, then add yams and saute for another minute. Remove from heat.
  4. To make a taco, place filling in two corn tortillas, squirt a slice of lime over it, and top with cilantro, vegan sour cream, and slices of avocado.


“My” seitan recipe is really just the PPK’s seitan recipe, halved, with a few tweaks to accommodate for what I didn’t have around the house. I’m sure that the original is better.


  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 + 1 TBS cup cold vegetable broth
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

To simmer:

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Instructions — see the original recipe.

Vegan Black Metal Chef reaches an omnivore

“Have you heard of the Vegan Black Metal Chef?” My brother texted me yesterday.

I told him I had, and asked him what I thought.

“Pretty funny, I actually want to try the Pad Thai recipe,” he replied.

This conversation made me think about various forms of vegan outreach and activism.

My brother played in a death metal band when he was younger, and though he’s traded black nailpolish for button-downs and Cradle of Filth for Elliott Smith, I think there’s still a part of metal culture that resonates with him, which is probably why he watched the video in the first place.

He is incredibly open-minded and supportive of almost every lifestyle, though seems to subsist mostly on meat. While he happily dined at Millenium, complimenting every dish we ordered, when left to his own devices will fry up eggs or grill a steak.

So, it struck me that the Vegan Black Metal Chef got through to my brother. And I’m guessing the Vegan Black Metal Chef may have reached others as well — it has 1,540,032 views as of writing this.

The premise is a little ridiculous: a man wearing black-and-white face paint and armor invites you into his gothic kitchen, candles flickering, where he chops tofu and vegetables with sinister blades.

But, the recipe looks really good, and viewers are attracted to the novelty and humor of it, because yeah, it’s pretty funny — you laugh with, not at, the Vegan Black Metal Chef. The video goes viral.

I wonder how many of those 1.5 million viewers will attempt vegan pad Thai in their own homes, and how many of that percentage will go on to try other vegan meals, and then how many of these will decide to go vegan for good. Maybe none, but it’s a start.

Maybe they’ll visit his website and click on the Why Vegan tab, where he shares Peta videos and writes “I do not care if you like or dislike the people that made/produced the videos, not saying that every animal rights group is the holy savior of all. …..just take it as it is and drop your presumptions/pretenses.”

It’s just so cool that this fellow is using the web to reach both vegans and non-vegans in a positive and non-pushy way. His lifestyle is so far beyond the norm that it’s difficult for viewers to associate it with the vegan lifestyle in general (the way punk rock + tattoos or new-age spiritualism + yoga seem to be), and I’m hoping it will encourage folks to trade meat for seitan (if not satan).

The Vegan Black Metal Chef is speaking at Bumbershoot today (making the timing of my brother’s text quite a coincidence), which I’m missing out on, so if you caught the panel, I would love to hear your thoughts!!

If you haven’t seen the Vegan Black Metal Chef, his first episode (Pad Thai) is below.

Vida Vegan Con

Vida Vegan Con is over, and I’m walking around in a post-Portlandia daze.

As I transition back to the reality that there aren’t vegan cupcakes at my beck and call, and that my friends and colleagues don’t share my thoughts on nooch (or even know what I’m referring to when I say “nooch”), and that I’m not surrounded by several hundred wonderful herbivores, I’m struck by what a wonderful experience it was.

I learned that vegans come in all shapes, sizes, races, creeds, genders (yes, there are male vegans) and orientations.

There are fat vegans and skinny vegans. Old vegans and young vegans. Cat-loving vegans and dog-loving vegans and vegans who love both. Vegans from small towns and vegans from big cities. Straight-edge vegans and vegans who guzzle beer.

Vegans are librarians and school teachers and midwifes and students and yoga instructors and college professors and marketers and journalists and authors and physical therapists and regular therapists and website creators and lawyers and people who help lawyers use the Internet (hey, that’s me!) and entrepreneurs and seamstresses and puppeteers and graphic designers and even Microsofties.

Some awesome vegans, like M.E. of Veganoramic View, whose conversations with me in Boston I credit for my permanent transition to veganism, were not able to make it, so I hope that I can bring some of the VVC love to them. (more…)

A week from now I will be…

…exploring Seattle’s countercultural little sister to the south, PORTLAND.

Now, a visit to Portland isn’t that impressive to most Seattleites. It’s old hat. Yesterday’s news. 3 hours away by car and sales tax free? Been there, done that.

But for me, this is a huge adventure. I’ve only been to Portland twice (one of those times was for work, and I barely left the convention center, and we ate at Stanford’s every night), and never by myself. I’m looking forward to eating copious amounts of plant-based food, drinking plenty of microbrewed beer, doing a bit of shopping, seeing some cool things, staring at weird people, and overall enjoying the dream of the 90’s.

Even more exciting, two and a half of my five days in Portland will be spent attending VIDA VEGAN CON, the city’s first all-vegan food blogging conference. (Actually, it might be the first vegan food blogging conference ever. I don’t really read things that closely.)

Based on suggestions from friends, coworkers, fellow VVC attendees and the Googlez, I’ve come up with a list of things to do. A map, actually.

View Portland in a larger map

Now, I don’t know if I’ll get to all of them, but with a little help from my trusty Huffy Ultima (thanks, Amtrak, for allowing bikes!), the PDX bus iPhone app and probably a lot of caffeine (am I cool enough for the original Stumptown?), I’m going to try.

Put a motherf^&*ng bird on it.

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