Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

April 15, 2009

A vegetarian alternative

This weekend we decided to try a little something new.

The recipe we started with was for wheat gluten, but we've also eaten it under the name Seitan. It's a solid vegetarian alternative to meat, easy to make and inexpensive to boot. What we started with was a dough like mixture of fresh ground (not store bought) wheat flour (10 cups) and water (5 cups).That's it, just mix it in a large bowl and let it sit at least overnight. Ours sat nearly 30 hrs; no problem with that.
After letting it sit, we turned it out into a bowl that was filled with 20 cups of warm water. I personally can't see why it had to be 20 cups, but I think it has to do with the potential uses for the water later.At this point what we needed to do was to knead the dough like it was a regular bread dough, but do it under water. The reason we're doing this is to "wash" the starches from it. You can see the milky color of the water. Those are the starches separating from the gluten in the dough mixture.After rinsing the mixture for about 3-5 minutes, we put it into a colander to further rinse under warm water until the water ran clear. What we were left with was a strangely elastic and web like mass that was made up of the pure wheat gluten.After letting it sit for a few minutes, we pressed it out (not rolled, but pressed) onto a cutting board where it strangely did not stick at all. To do this we had to press it out slowly and give it a minute or two to settle and then press it out further.Next we cut the wheat gluten into strips. And here is where we differed from the recipe that we had.We decided to follow the process of seitan rather than the purely wheat gluten recipe. What we did was to boil the seitan in a mixture of water, broth, soy sauce and seasonings. Note: start with cold liquid and bring to a low heat and cook partially covered for at least 1 hr.This is the finished seitan. Cooked, seasoned and ready to use in any kind of dish where you might use something like beef chunks or chicken strips.I was dying to give it a try so I decided to give it a shot sauteed with some onions and egg for a nice omelet. The texture was really nice. Not chewy at all, and not too soft either. I would like to have had the seitan have a bit more flavor to begin with as it was still just a bit "wheaty" but I think if it is marinaded in some Worcestershire or soy before a slow saute, it would be even better.

We hope to make this a regular addition to our menu in the future as we try to become more self sufficient and to eat a healthier diet. I'm going to state the obvious here, but if you or any one in your family has a gluten intolerance, this is DEFINITELY not the food for them as it it pure wheat gluten.

I hope you'll give it a try.
Bon appetite~


Lily Girl said...

Thanks for showing how to make this the "old fashioned" way. I make seitan using vital wheat gluten, which people can consider if this way seems overwhelming. Also, using vital wheat gluten makes it much easier to season the seitan than does working from regular wheat flour.
Seitan freezes really well. Also, I think the texture is much better after it has cooled, so I usually make a big batch or two, cool competely, freeze the extra and then use it in whatever recipe for which I need it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting!! Thanks for sharing this.tp

Kory said...

wow, thats awesome, I usually try to sneak tofu in as the meat substitute but if this is something I can make myself...game on!

Connie said...

Wow, this is a new one on me - good job.

Eric said...

P~ That's awesome...totally not what I expected when I opened your blog this morning and that's a good thing. I never knew such a thing existed or could be so easy to make.

Anonymous said...

Now that is interesting!! Thanks so much for sharing p! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great post, I'd never heard of this before! Can we use regular store bought wheat flour or will that not work?
Fab blog btw, have been reading for a few weeks now but i think this is my first post!

Compostwoman said...

Wow! we eat meat ( organic, local etc etc ..) but I would definately try this as an interesting alternative....

as we do try to limit our meat eating as much as we can...

joelevi said...

If you are gluten intolerant you may want to try the same recipe using any one of the "older" grains like spelt, kamut, or quinoa. Many people find they are NOT intolerate or allergic to these older grains (your mileage may vary).

Millet, buckwheat, flax seed, and chia seed can also be used as wheat substitutes, I wonder how those would do.

- www.JoeLevi.com

Chile said...

I was unhappy with the flavor of my homemade seitan/gluten products until I figure out (by reading recipes online) that you can add seasonings to the gluten itself. It might be hard to do it the way you made it, but it's easy if you make it with "vital wheat gluten" which is a dry "flour" that is just the gluten part of wheat flour. Add seasonings and water, and voila, you have the gluten dough.

joelevi said...

We made a batch with our own variation.

The day after mixing the wheat and water we "washed" the starches out of the ball, spread, and cut into strips, we then marinated (soaked) the strips in water with some liquid smoke, Worcester sauce, and some homemade "beef flavoring" spice mix.

The next day we fried the strips in olive oil, top dressing them with various spices to experiment with flavoring (garlic powder, black pepper, beef flavoring spice mix, and steak rub). We left a few "plain" as a control.

The kids ate them! My wife loved them, she enjoyed them more than chicken strips or nuggets (with a little shaping we could easily turn these into chicken nuggets).

The next day I coiled some of the strips into patties and ate them like I would a hamburger.


Thanks for the good idea!

- www.JoeLevi.com