...a way of seeing beyond inner and outer.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fog project: Seitan

It's foggy again...   Now what do I do?
Could it be........seitan?? It could be, but it's going to require more than 150 words.

Seitan: [sey-tan]  -noun
     A chewy, neutral-flavored, protein-rich food made from wheat gluten used as a vegetarian meat substitute.

At this point, at least two things becomes apparent:
  • If you're gluten intolerant, run away run away.  This post is not your friend.  
  • If you live in the bible belt, or America, or the Middle East, or any where outside Asia, you'll probably want to call this "wheat meat" or "mock duck" 
A few other points, are less apparent: 
  • If you're a vegetarian and cheap, come here, come here. This post is your friend.
  • If you're not a vegetarian, be brave be brave. This post could be an adventure in dining.
  • If you expect this to be flavor-neutral, you might be disappointed.   It can taste "bready".
     The finished product does have a slight "whole wheat bread" flavor to me but it's minimized by the type and quantity of spices you add to the dry mixture and the liquid.    Here are the basics. 

The dry ingredients:
  • Vital wheat gluten. You can make it yourself, but why, unless you're trying to make a point.  I buy it. Most decent grocery stores have it on the same isle with flour because people add it to all purpose flour to make bread baking easier. Bob Red Mills makes it, so does Hodgson Mill.   Healthy food type stores sell it in the bulk bins.
  • Nutritional yeast.  Not absolutely essential, but worth the effort to find it for a couple reasons.  If you're a vegetarian, B vitamins, iron and umami ( the savory flavor of meat cheeses mushrooms, miso etc) are tough find without a little effort. Nutritional yeast gives you all of the above in large quantities. If you ever feel brave, sprinkle a little on lightly or unbuttered popcorn.  I haven't myself, but I hear it's pretty good. You can get nutritional yeast at any healthy food type store and you don't need much
  • Spices You cannot mess this up, you'll either get closer to or farther away from what you like, but as a general rule, since seitan is about dry to wet ratios, use about 4.5T of dried spices ( and 2tsp of salt ) for every three cups of vital wheat gluten and every 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast.  I do not recommend you use cayenne for all 4.5T.  Start with how you intend to use the stuff.  If you plan to use it for Italian food, choose spices that go in Italian food. oregano, basil, thyme. Mexican food?  cumin, coriander, garlic powder, cocoa ( yes, cocoa... just a little) Stir fries? Ginger, garlic powder a little five spice powder etc etc.   Something to go with chestnut stuffing with mushroom gravy and sweet potatoes? use 2.5T sage, 1T thyme, .5tsp black pepper, 1tsp onion powder and 1tsp garlic is as close to vegetarian turkey as I've been able to get.
Wet ingredients: 
  • Any liquid will work, within reason.   Bottom line, play with this. It's adult play dough and start with small batches. This is a recipe for a small batch.  If you don't like the flavor that you end up with when you try to eat whole slices of it, ala wheat roast and onion gravy, chop it up and put it in a pot of spaghetti, enchiladas etc., then try another variation. Here's a starting point:
Preheat the oven to 325F
Dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup wheat gluten
  • 1/4 nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked or regular paprika but smoked adds a nice something
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper ( if you have kids you might want to skip this )
  • 1/4 ground allspice
  • 1/4 ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
(Note: A season mix will also work provided the first few ingredients are not salt. I made seitan using 1/4 cup of za'atar and a teaspoon of salt as the only seasoning. It works beautifully.)

Liquid ingredients:
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 4 T tomato paste
  • 1 T  soy sauce 
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
Mix the wet and dry ingredients enough to get the mess to stick together and form a nice ball.   Use your hands for or a strong mixer. I say strong because this stuff isn't going to make friends with your whimpy hand held mixer.  Seitan will eat your whimpy hand held mixer for breakfast and you won't need the smoked paprika because the fumes coming off your now dead whimpy hand held mixer will provide the  "something."
Form the ball into a flat log about 5 to 8 inches long depending on the size of the cutlet you want to make.  I usually shoot for somewhere in the middle. Wrap the log tightly in foil and make sure it's well sealed.  Place the log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or more foil unless you like the idea of having to scrub a baking sheet.

Bake for an hour and a half, flipping it over half way through. Cool, store, freeze, whatever. This stuff will keep frozen for longer than I've ever kept it frozen and the recipe is easy to double.
top:  za'atar & salt   bottom: spices listed above

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to know what you think, "for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy"