Monday, January 22, 2007

When life gives you snow, make seitan!

After some questions were posted about how to make seitan, I took advantage of a recent snow day to make it again, taking photos of the process. I hope this helps some of you out there! It is not a difficult or scary process, and it makes about two pounds of seitan! You can freeze some in its liquid for later, or refrigerate it in the liquid for about five days. I used the recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook, "Vegan with a Vengeance," but you can find it easily online at her site: . I think that this recipe makes it a bit soft, so if you simmer it a bit longer than called for, it might be, "meatier" (not that I'm looking for that texture - but some of you may be). Let me know if you try this and how it turns out for you!

Step 1) Gather your ingredients: I have learned from many past mistakes (ok, current ones, too!) that you should gather all your ingredients beforehand! Nothing is worse than realizing you need something halfway through a recipe!

Make sure to use vital wheat gluten. If you use regular wheat flour, you have to rinse and repeat the kneading process several times!

Vital wheat gluten out of the box.

Step 2) Prepare the liquid and dry ingredients.

Step 3) Mix the liquid and dry ingredients with a spatula.

Step 4) Knead the mixture for five minutes. If you have ever made fresh bread (if you haven't, you just have to try it !), this is the fun part. It's sometimes hard to make it stay together. Kneading is pressing with the heels of both hands and pushing it away from you. You do this once, then turn it a quarter clockwise, fold the top back and knead again. If it doesn't feel "spongy" after five minutes, do it for a couple minutes more.

Step 5) This disgusting blob is the seitan dough, resting for five minutes on the cutting board. I can think of few things that look more gross . . .

Step 6) Except this! Form the dough into a ten inch long piece, then cut into about six pieces. Don't worry! They will get much bigger as they cook.

Step 7) Finally! Put the pieces into the cold broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for at least an hour. Remember, the longer it simmers, the "tougher" it gets (Which is a good thing! Too short of a time can make it too mushy).

Step 8) Let it cool all the way down in the broth before you use it for a recipe or put it in the fridge/freezer. Remember to freeze or refrigerate it in the cooking broth!

My next post will be to explain the history of seitan, including health benefits, tips for preparation and use, and some photos of yummy things you can make with it!

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