When I woke up early this morning I decided to make seitan. I hadn’t made that in a long time and wanted to explore different ways of using it in dishes.
Seitan, also known as wheat meat or gluten, is an alternative to meat that is similar in texture and, prepared properly, can be quite tasty. Seitan (a Japanese word) has its origins in the Far East where it is commonly used as a meat substitute. Bhuddists who don’t eat meat make up a large segment of seitan consumers. Seitan is high in protein, having 18 grams of protein to tofu’s 10 grams per serving.
My sympathies go out to those who suffer from gluten sensitivities or intolerance. I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. There are some who claim that gluten is bad for everyone, whether they have sensitivities or not. I haven’t bought into that one yet but am keeping an open mind and paying attention to the information that is out there. Beyond saying that, I’m not going to discuss it further in this post.
Back to this morning… It was still a couple hours before daybreak and many of the ingredients I wanted to use for making the seitan were outside in the garden. I went ahead and made the dough by mixing water with vital wheat gluten and a bit of baking soda. I have used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour for this before but that dough then has to be washed to remove the starch. I used vital gluten from which the starch has already been removed eliminating that time consuming step. While waiting for daybreak I soaked the ball of dough in a bowl of water.
When it was light enough to see I picked some carrot tops, celery leaves and stalks, parsley leaves and stems, rosemary, sage, garlic chives and thyme. These went into a pot to which I added water, Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce (Bragg® Liquid Aminos), liquid smoke, kosher salt, dried onion flakes, Vegemite, paprika, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and perhaps another ingredient or two I have since forgotten. The Angostura brand Worcestershire sauce is the only one I have run across that doesn’t have anchovies as an ingredient.
Wheat gluten has very little flavor, so the idea is to make a hearty vegetable stock in which to simmer the gluten to give it flavor. I chose the carrot tops rather than actual carrots since the solids would later be discarded. The peelings from well washed vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, turnips etc. could also be used.
I cut the ball of gluten dough into chunks of no particular shape and put them into the pot of simmering veggies and herbs. I thought I had cut the dough into fairly small pieces so was surprised when I removed the lid and saw how puffed up they were, probably because of the baking soda. After cooking a little longer they reduced a bit in size.
I let this simmer for well over an hour, tasting and adjusting the flavors in the broth from time to time.
So, this is your basic seitan. From this point it can be seasoned and prepared in any number of ways.
I went on to prepare a homemade vegan barbecue sauce using just about every ingredient imaginable. If I can remember them they were:
Bragg® apple cider vinegar
soy sauce (Bragg® Liquid Aminos)
Worcestershire sauce (Angostura brand)
Seitan has a soft, spongy yet chewy consistency. I squeezed some of the liquid out of each piece of gluten with my hand and soaked them in the barbecue sauce where they remain marinating (in the refrigerator) until I decide how to use them.
As a result of doing this project I ended up with two and a half quarts of vegetable stock and a little left over barbecue sauce to use later in other dishes. I look forward to preparing some dishes using the seitan I made today.