Seitan is a tricky thing to make and can be a bit daunting at first, but you’ll start to get the hang of it after a few attempts. Before you know it, news of your expert seitan-making skills with pass through your circle of friends with fervor, turning you into a local celebrity.
The recipe starts out with a dry mix and a wet mix prepared in separate bowls. Vital wheat gluten flour (basically pure wheat protein) is the base of the dry mix while water and/or soy sauce is the base of the wet mix. The other ingredients are added for flavor. I like to use different flavorings depending on the type of seitan I want to make. For example, I use chickpea flour in a chicken-style seitan, tomato paste in a beef-style seitan, apple sauce in a pork-style seitan, etc.
The wet and dry mix are combined with a spoon until they start to form the clumpy texture you see above.
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. Once you begin to knead the seitan, it should come together in a rough ball shape. This is where you want to pay attention to the texture to see if it needs more wheat gluten or water added to it.
If the seitan is sticking to your fingers while you try to knead it, then it’s too dry and needs more water. Be sure to add only a tablespoon at a time! A little goes a long way.
If the seitan is mushy and does not spring back when you press it with your fingers, then it’s too wet and will come out spongy if you try to cook it. Add more wheat gluten a tablespoon at a time until it has a more elastic texture.
You may find that you need to add different amounts of water or wheat gluten each time you make seitan. Much like pie crust, it’s a temperamental recipe that will be affected by environmental factors such as humidity, air temperature, etc.
Now it’s time to give the seitan a warm bath in some vegetable broth. I like to use different kinds of vegetable broth depending on the kind of seitan I’m going to make. For chicken seitan, I use Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken Base”.
Seitan can be cooked in a variety of different ways, but I prefer to cook it in the oven because it’s easier to control the temperature. The temperature is important because if the broth boils, the force of the air bubbles will turn your seitan into a gross, soggy sponge. What you really want to do is “steam” it in the vegetable broth, so be sure to use a dish with a tight fitting lid and set your oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
After you’ve cooked the seitan for 40 minutes, remove the lid and flip it over. This is a good time to check and make sure everything’s going well. If there are any bubbles in the broth, they should be small and gentle. If it’s boiling, you definitely want to turn your oven down.
After it goes back for another 40 minutes in the oven, your seitan is done! Your delicious hunk of wheat meat is now ready to be sliced, shredded or cut into pieces depending on what the recipe calls for.
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