Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Seitan is Satan - but it's oh so good!

So I finally figured out seitan and it's really not that hard to make (you do, however, have to be aware of how humidity in your area - I live in FL - might affect the outcome). If you really want chicken-like fake meat, or if you really want dishes where a fake meat is the main ingredient to take terrific, making your own seitan is the way to go. It stores well so make it ahead of time to save yourself a marathon session in the kitch.

For the batter:
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 cup very cold water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 2 T ketchup if that's easier)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the broth:
10 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
Feel free to optionally add sprigs of fresh herbs if you'd like (rosemary or thyme perhaps)

In a large bowl, mix together Vital Wheat Gluten Flour and nutritional yeast flakes.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining batter ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don't start boiling it.

Now roll your dough into large meatball-size pieces (probably should make 8-12). Once you have all the meatballs, flatten them out (like little pancakes) – they cook better this way.

Place all the pancake-shaped pieces in the broth. It is important that the water/broth be very cold when you add the dough so it doesn't fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.

As soon as the water has come to a boil (be careful to watch it) set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the pieces over a few times throughout the hour.

Now you've got gluten. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.

What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealable container covered in the simmering broth.

If your recipe calls for seitan coat the bottom of a skillet (cast iron if you have it) with about 1 teaspoon of light olive oil. Heat the skillet over medium high and add your gluten. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally.

You can now slice this seitan or crumble it. Whatever kind of meat you are trying to mimic will likely dictate how you prepare it when you re-heat it in a recipe.

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