Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh Seitan!!

Well, another fear conquered. This was not my first time eating seitan, but it was my first time making it. I have seen the recipes before and it looks so simple to do... These are the recipes I tend to mess up the most. I had a free night and I had some homemade broth ready to use (Recipe here) so I figured, why not? How hard could it be? Turns out, not hard at all.
 So, a bit of information for you first because I know that not everyone knows about this meat substitute. Vital Wheat Gluten (the core ingredient in seitan) has been used in Asian cultures for a long time. When combined with liquid, wheat gluten turns into a chewy and stringy meat substitute. It is a great alternative for tofu and other soy-based protein and is known for having a meaty texture.

Seitan contains about 31 grams of protein per 4 ounce serving (more protein that tofu!), has B vitamins and iron and contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. A serving has about 118 calories which is not too bad (about 40% less calories then a similar size of beef).

You can buy it pre-packaged at places like Planet Organic, or Asian markets. I really like it for when I want a 'meaty' dish. The only problem I have with the pre-packaged stuff is that it is really expensive and they never provide enough for a recipe.

So enough class time... how do you make it? Easy! I started out using the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, but I did not have any tomato paste which that version called for. I then googled for other recipes and found that you didn't need it. A number of recipes seemed very similar to the one in Veganomicon, so I think I will give credit where it is due.
Homemade Seitan
From Veganomicon
  • 1 cup of vital wheat gluten
  • 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
  • 5 cups of veggie broth
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
Mix the vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the cold water, soy sauce oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and stir until it is combined. Now, knead the mixture until it is elasticky, which takes about three minutes. Cut the ball into thirds and stretch each piece out a bit.
Now, in a large stock pot combine the veggie broth, water and soy sauce. Put the seitan in the pot and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on the pot and as soon as it boils, put the heat to lowest and partially cover it with a lid. Simmer for an hour, turning the seitan every once in a while. Once cooked, let it cool until you can handle it and cut into slices.
Yes, this is what it should look like.
Not everything can be photogenic!
If you don't want to use it all right away, save the broth and store the seitan in it (cover in broth). You can freeze it or keep it in the fridge.
This makes about a Pound of seitan, which is what most recipes call for.

Seitan - looks so much fresher than the packaged stuff!
My thoughts on this recipe, it does not photograph well and I now know why you never see pictures of it! I have now tried this in a recipe (more on this one soon) and I have to say, it is delicious. It tastes way better than the pre-packaged stuff and the recipe actually yields enough for recipes. It does take a while to make it, but seriously the work part is done in about 5 minutes. It takes me longer to get to the store than it does to get this stuff simmering.
At Planet Organic, seitan costs about $5.00, sometimes more. This recipe which makes about 2-3 packages worth of seitan probably cost me about $5.00... so it is a third of the price, for a better tasting product.
I will not be going back to the packaged stuff. I have been spoiled. It is like going to first class. Once you know what you are missing, you can't go back!

Vegan or not, give seitan a try... I dare you!

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