Monday, 27 October 2008

All We Want To Do Is Eat Your Brains

We're not unreasonable, I mean no ones gonna eat your eyes.
Um. Sorry about that. Moving swiftly on...


Today I'm rattling on about Seitan. Also known as Wheat Meat, it's wheat gluten (thus the enemy of the Coeliac), the stuff that gives kneaded dough its elasticity. It has a chewy texture that makes it a good meat substitute. It is pretty flavourless in itself, but takes on other flavours well. There are two ways of making seitan, the easy way and the hard way. Today I'll show the easy way.

First of all you'll be needing some Gluten powder (also known as vital wheat gluten or gluten flour). This can be bought from specialist flour suppliers & some whole food shops (I use The Flour Bin they also have a really nice maltflake flour too). You'll need 2 cups of it for this.

This recipe is for Yellow Bean style seitan, but there are lots of variations you can experiment with.
2 cups gluten powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup yellow bean sauce (I like my seitan with a lot of flavour, so you might want to reduce your quantities here. 2 tbs of yellow bean sauce & 2 tbs soy sauce might be more appropriate for more delicate palates)

Mix the water & seasoning together & pour onto the gluten powder & mix. The whole thing will quickly become rubbery & weird, but fear not! It hasn't all gone horribly wrong, this is how its supposed to look.
Really, it is.

Doesn't look pleasant, does it? Well, it's okay, it'll taste good. Knead the terrifying, rubbery stuff, and don't think about zombies, for about 1 minute (the longer you knead it, the firmer it will be. If you're making a pastrami-style seitan, it's worth kneading it for a good 10 minutes, then it'll be firm, juicy & easy to slice). Cut into two pieces & roll into logs. Wrap each log with muslin/cheesecloth & tie with string (not too tightly, as the seitan will expand a little in cooking). If you don't have any muslin, divide the dough into 4 pieces & flatten into cutlets instead.

Place in a large pan & add
1/4 cup yellow bean sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
And add enough water to just cover the seitan. Bring to the boil & simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove from heat & leave to cool (you can save the water for cooking rice in if you like) & unwrap.

There you have it. Delicious seitan. It can be cut into thin slices, or chopped into chunks & used in stir fries or anything else that requires chunks of chewy bits. Or you can eat it, slice by slice, as you amble around the house, until there is only a meagre amount left. Then make more.
There are lots of variations for this recipe, just replace the yellow bean sauce & soy with other flavours. I'm a fan of tomato paste, salt, paprika, cayenne, cumin & black pepper for a pastrami-style seitan, or achiote paste & lime juice to make a Puerco Pibil style seitan.
In celebration on tonight's 1st episode of Charlie Brookers Dead Set, here's Jonathan Coulton!

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