Friday, October 29, 2010

Making seitan (gluten)

By Tracy

Seitan* is wheat protein, malleable and versatile – you can slice and fry or grill it, cut into chunks or cubes and add anywhere you would add other proteins – with pasta or in curries. We like it in browned slices with mashed potato, vegan gravy (Massel does a vegan gravy powder, for example) and veggies.

It's made up from a dried protein staple (gluten flour) that will keep for ages in the cupboard. It's simple to prepare, as long as you have at least an hour before you want to use it.

You need: gluten flour (try the breadmaking section of your supermarket), plain wheat flour, water, veggie stock/soy sauce for simmering, and any condiments you want to flavour it. (I used a third of a cup of nutritional yeast, added to dry ingredients before mixing; you can also add onion powder or any spices you like.)

You need a large pasta-type pot or big saucepan, which you’ll fill with 4-5 litres of water, adding the veggie stock and/or soy sauce, and bring to the boil.

Stir together two cups gluten flour to one cup plain flour in a large bowl. Quickly add just over a cup of water, and turn till it forms a ball of dough (not too sticky, or you won’t be able to get it off your hands!).

Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead to remove air bubbles or any pockets of still-dry flour.

Divide into three or four chunks. When your stock has come up to the boil, add the chunks and turn down to simmer (lightly bubbling will do) for one hour.

Don’t add the chunks before the stock has reached the boil, or they will turn out too fluffy and porous.

Once cooked, drained and cooled, the gluten will have a firm, sliceable texture.

The best seitan/gluten dish I’ve ever tried is the roast on Beverley the Vegan Chef’s site. It takes a little more preparation than the simmered style, but is well worth it.

(*Seitan is one name given to one style of gluten; my recipe is a rough approximation of the idea.)

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