Summer has finally arrived in Germany. I think this year everybody is soaking up the fresh air and the warmth even more than usual. So I decided to bring back my seitan based classic German currywurst recipe. Because to me currywurst means summer. It is one of the few meat dishes I really loved as a kid, even though I didn’t have it very often. The main ingredient is a bratwurst that is usually cooked on a barbecue grill. Sometimes it’s just fried, too. It is cut up into pieces, covered in a healthy amount of curry ketchup sauce and topped with extra curry powder. With the help of homemade seitan, you can easily make your own vegan version of this traditional street food item.
For us kids, currywurst was reserved for special occasions and thinking about this food brings up a ton of memories. This type of sausage was usually eaten at food trucks. Yeah, that was a thing back in the 80ies! We’d call those trucks wurstbude, which you could translate as hot dog stand. But a a more literal translation would be sausage booth. Okay, I admit those weren’t really trucks. They were like very small caravans, that you had to connect to a car to move them around.
These sausage stands are still a very important part of every German fair. There are very fancy ones, but the basic fair food truck will have fries and sausages. I remember going to small fairs in my village. There were two every year and they were called schützenfest and feuerwehrfest (fire brigade fair). I really cringe when I think about schützenfest now, it seems so outdated and weird. Also, I am not into weapons that much. But when we were kids in a village, it was pretty fun to go there. It was really the highlight of the year. You could watch people shooting at a wooden eagle on a huge pole. They used crossbows and looked a bit like old, unfashionable Robin Hoods. They had forest green uniforms with medals and hats. At the end the person who shot off the last eagle bit would be marksmen’s king or queen. (We were a pretty “modern” village, women were allowed to shoot at the eagle, too.)
Being the marksmen’s king or queen was super expensive. I don’t even remember what you had to pay for (probably lots of drinks), but it was a lot! I wouldn’t be surprised if some people missed the eagle on purpose, so they wouldn’t have to pay for all those drinks and such. The women would wear pretty dresses, there was a parade through the village with marksmen and women from other villages, marching bands, kids, and all kinds of people. They trew candies at us. The queen and king would ride in a horse-drawn carriage. And then they would all end up in a very hot tent and everybody got pretty drunk. We kids would watch the parade, maybe walk in it, too. Being watched by all those people on the sidelnes was so exiting! And then we would ride on a carousel, buy plastic toys we didn’t need, maybe play a couple of rounds of throwing cans and have fries (with mayonnaise for me) and currywurst. My father used to take us to the schützenfest, he was a marksman, too.
Of course currywurst is not only for fairs. It’s a pretty solid component of German fast and street food culture, at least in Western Germany and Berlin. You usually eat it at a sausage stand or in a place we call Pommesbude (chips/French fries stall). Currywurst and fries is (in some parts of the country) the German version of Fish and Chips.
If you make your own currywurst, there are tons of possibilities, especially when it comes to the curry ketchup sauce. I have a strong opinion about this, especially since I grew up with a store bought curry ketchup that I still love. But, you know, this is just my classic german currywurst, of course there are others. I tried to keep things simple with my bratwurst recipe as well as with the curry sauce recipe. I like to choose a mild curry powder, but you can make this with hot curry powder, too. If you want a more fancy version, you could go for this Spicy Currywurst with Mango Curry Sauce.
If you cook this at home, you could also take the prepared sausages to a barbecue and throw them on the grill. Just cut the bratwurst up and mix it with your sauce and you have a pretty quick and easy faux meat dish on hand. And maybe you could bring a batch of campfire bread. Or you can serve this the old fashioned way with some fries on the side. But don’t forget the mayonnaise!
Classic German Currywurst
This is a vegan, seitan based version of the classic German fast food staple. A sliced bratwurst that is covered in a delicious spicy curry ketchup sauce.
For the seitan bratwurst:
- 144 g vital wheat gluten (1 cup)
- 10 g chickpea flour (2 tbsp)
- 25 g nutritional yeast (¼ cup)
- 2 tsp dried majoram
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 65 g smoked tofu
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 240 ml cold water (one cup)
For the sauce:
- 250 g ketchup
- 60 ml water (¼ cup)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp oil, for frying
- additional curry powder for sprinkling
To make the seitan bratwurst:
Preheat oven to 200°C.
In a bowl, combine vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, majoram, onion powder, pepper, and salt.
Purée the tofu (or finely mash with a fork).
Add puréed tofu, garlic and water to vital wheat mixture and knead until everything is incorporated.
Let the dough rest for a minute or two and briefly knead again.
Divide into four equal pieces of seitan.
Roll the seitan pieces into logs, then place them on a large piece of foil.
Wrap the foil around them, then twist the side-ends. Don't wrap the foil too tightly it could burst during baking.
Place the sausages on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Let cool completely.
To make the sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium to low heat for about a minute.
Fry the sausages in 1 tablespoon of oil.
Cut the sausage into small rounds and combine with sauce.
Sprinkle additional curry powder on top for serving.