My sympathies go out to all who suffer from Celiac (Coeliac) disease. I think it is wonderful that awareness of the condition has increased and that gluten free products are now widely available to make life easier for those with sensitivities to wheat and wheat products.
On the other hand I think gluten has, in some cases, been unfairly vilified. Certainly, for those with celiac disease it is a malevolent enemy, but statistics indicate that gluten is being shunned by a significantly higher number of people than just those who suffer from sensitivity or intolerance. I can’t help but think that the actual culprit is the dreaded auto immune disease and not the food itself. As is suggested in this interesting article, there is nothing intrinsically harmful in gluten for most healthy people.
As I said in the beginning, I have nothing but sympathy for those who suffer, my only point being that many may be unnecessarily depriving themselves of a legitimate and excellent source of protein.
Moving on… I made a batch of seitan last night. Using equal amounts of whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten I mixed in water to make a firm dough. After kneading the dough for about 10 minutes I submerged the ball of dough in a bowl of water and let it sit for a couple hours.
After soaking I proceeded to “wash” the starch out of the dough by kneading it in a bowl of cool water. By pressing the dough between my hands without letting it squeeze out between my fingers I was able to keep the ball intact. I changed the water frequently until it remained clear and the starch had been separated from the gluten.
Using a bench scraper, I cut the gluten into small chunks.
The gluten at this point is tough like chewing gum and without any flavor whatsoever. To tenderize it and infuse it with flavor I simmered the chunks in a pot of highly flavored broth. I used vegetable stock, soy sauce, Angostura Worcestershire sauce (no anchovies), fermented bean paste and frozen leftover French onion soup. The vegetable stock can be made from celery, onions, garlic and any vegetable on hand. This is a good time to make use of the less useful parts of vegetables such as carrot tops, carrot peelings, potato peelings etc. I certainly wouldn’t make a batch of French onion soup just to use the leftovers.
I let the seitan simmer for about an hour. The gluten swells and becomes tender but still chewy when it is done. I will be using the seitan in various ways in the coming days and may freeze some of it for future use.