Put down that Tofurky! Don’t torture your vegetarian friends while going broke on their behalf. With just a few easy steps, and a couple hours of cooking and cooling, you can have a delicious and thrifty vegan alternative.
I grew up eating a lot of Chinese food, and what with 2 1/2 millenia of Buddhism, Chinese cuisines feature some of the most wonderful vegetarian foods. I’ve always been especially fond of seitan in its many guises. I like how it’s dense and chewy in a way that’s fairly unique in the veggie protein world.
After I complained about how pricey it’s gotten (nearly $10 a pound from a local company!), a friend clandestinely told me that she had worked out The Best Recipe for it. But that it was a little complicated, and that it had taken her 9 years to develop, and that she wasn’t sure she could bring herself to share the recipe.
I think I had nearly convinced her to do so when I came across this one from my very favorite vegan blog, Post Punk Kitchen.
I almost felt guilty for having found a recipe that’s so easy, and that costs about a quarter what it would to buy it pre-made. I’ve made it three times, and haven’t had it fail. Though it grated on my attention-deficit nature, I followed the instructions exactly, especially about the temperature of the water when the seitan goes in (cold) and the time that the seitan stays in the broth after cooking (a while).
Give it a whirl. You can double it and freeze some to have around when vegetarian friends drop by, or make it ahead for a holiday dinner. Your guests will thank you, and you will bask in the glow of gratitude and thriftiness.
From Post Punk Kitchen
- 1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 cup very cold water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 10 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- In a large bowl, mix together vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast flakes.
- In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients: water or broth, soy sauce. tomato paste, garlic, lemon zest.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. [It's really cool how the wet mess turns into this spongy thing right before your eyes!] Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don’t start boiling it.
- Now roll your dough into a log shape about 8 inches long and cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Place the pieces in the broth. It is important that the liquid be very cold when you add the dough, as it helps with the texture and ensures that it doesn’t fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.
- When the water has come to a boil set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the pieces every now and again.
- Now you’ve got seitan. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.
What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealable container covered in the simmering broth.