Monday, September 24, 2012
Just For The Vegetarians
Cooking With Seitan
Although it is made from wheat, seitan has little in common with flour or bread. Also called “wheat meat”, “wheat gluten” or simply “gluten”, seitan becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked, making it a popular meat substitute. Seitan is also high in protein, making it a popular protein source for vegetarians. Asian restaurants often use seitan as a vegetarian mock meat, and seitan is also the base for several commercially available products such as Tofurky deli slices.
Seitan can be prepared by hand using either whole wheat flour or vital wheat gluten and is made by rinsing away the starch in the wheat, leaving a high-protein gluten behind. Although not as common as tofu, seitan is quickly gaining popularity, particularly in vegetarian restaurants, due to its ability to take on the texture and flavor of meat. Prepared seitan can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores.
Here is a basic recipe for making Seitan, then as you go further down are a couple of popular dishes using seitan.
How to make Seitan
1 c. vital wheat gluten
approx. ¾ c. water or vegetable broth
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
6 c. broth for cooking
3-4 slices onion (optional)
2-3 pieces fresh ginger (optional)
Combine gluten flour and dry spices in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce and ¾ cup broth or water.
Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. After a few initial stirs, you’ll probably need to use your hands for this. Do not use an electrical mixer! Gluten will have a rubbery consistency. Add more water a tablespoon at a time only if needed.
Once mixture is well combined, knead seitan 10-15 times, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then knead a few more times.
Separate your ball of gluten into three or four smaller chunks. Gently stretch each piece into a flat cutlet, around ¾ inch thick. Seitan will expand when cooking, so you’ll want to start out with somewhat thin cutlets. Don’t worry about any holes that may form in the gluten.
Add seitan to 4 cups of broth in a large pot and bring to a slow simmer. You can add extra spices or flavors to this broth as well. I like to add around a quarter cup of soy sauce, a few pieces of fresh ginger and several slices of onion for extra flavor.
For a "fishy" seitan, add crumbled nori or other seaweed, or, for a chicken-flavored seitan, add some poultry seasoning and use a chicken-flavored broth.
Cover pot and allow to cook for an hour or more. Be sure to use a large pot and plenty of broth, as seitan will expand. Seitan is done cooking when it has firmed up and expanded.
Remove from broth, allow to cool and use in a recipe or make a seitan stir-fry.
Seitan keeps well in the freezer in a sealed container or zip lock bag, so make a double batch and freeze for later, thawing for an hour or two first before using.
Southern Fried Vegetarian "Chicken"
1 tsp. salt or seasoned salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
dash cayenne (optional)
1 ½ c. flour
¼ c. nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ c. prepared mustard
2 tbsp. baking powder
½ c. water
1 lb. seitan or other chicken substitute, cut into 1-2 inch square pieces
oil for frying
In a medium to large bowl, mix together the salt, onion powder, garlic powder, flour, black pepper, cayenne and nutritional yeast.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the mustard and water. Add 1/3 cup of the flour mixture to the mustard mixture and combine well.
Add baking powder to the flour mixture and combine well.
Coat pieces of seitan or mock chicken with the mustard batter, then coat each piece with the dry flour mixture.
Fry chunks of "chicken" in the oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet for 3-5 minutes, turning once until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel, serve with ketchup or barbeque sauce and enjoy!
Tip: If your chunks are turning brown or black rather than a crispy golden brown, your oil is probably too hot! Reduce the heat a small amount and try again.
Spicy Seitan Buffalo "Wings"
1 lb. seitan, sliced into strips
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
olive oil for frying
1/3 c. margarine, melted
½ c. hot sauce
Coat the seitan with garlic powder and onion powder then lightly fry in olive oil over medium high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until done.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the melted margarine and hot sauce. Place the seitan in the bowl and stir to coat well.
Serve with ranch dressing if desired.