Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You say sei-tan, i say sei-ton

Hey Kathryn,

How're you?  I can't believe that it's Friday already, one whole week after the 4th, when I actually made this new recipe.  I didn't do the conventional 4th of July BBQ this year - there was a Jazz Festival in Iowa City, and I got me some fried oreos instead.  They didn't quite match my expectations - the chocolate wafers were a little too soggy from all of the batter and frying - but you only live once, right?

However, I still had the urge to cook something equally revolutionary, and then it crossed my mind that we've had this blog for over seven months, and we have very few posts devoted to vegetarian proteins like tofu, tempeh, and probably the most mysterious one, seitan.  I wish that I had discovered seitan when I first became a vegetarian, and was really craving meat.  Seitan is made from gluten, the protein in flour.  In color and in texture, it vaguely resembles liver, and since it is vegetarian, it is way less creepy to eat than the meat-version.  It is delicious on its own, eaten with some homemade broth, or put into curries, taco-fillings, etc.  If you haven't tried it before, I would recommend ordering it at a restaurant first so you can see if you like it (for all of those in Iowa City, go to Thai Flavors, and order it in the Green Curry). 

Once you've discovered that you can't live without seitan, you can either continue ordering it at restaurants, buying it at the store, or you can make your own!  I kid you not, it's easier than making pie.  All you really have to do is make the dough, knead it,

and plop it into some simmering stock.

It makes quite the homey meal, served with the homemade stock and some noodles.  Also, do you remember gak, that rubbery playdough?  Because the seitan dough totally resembles it, so you can only imagine how much fun it is to work with it and knead it.  

Simple Seitan
Adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Braising Broth:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, kept whole
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
1 quart of water
1/4 - 1/3 cup soy sauce

Heat the oil in a stock pot on medium heat, and add the onions and garlic.  Cook the onions and garlic until they start to caramelize and brown along the edges.  Add thyme and salt and pepper and continue cooking until the onions are a golden brown all over.  Add the water and the soy sauce and stir to incorporate the browned bits from the bottom into the stock.  Watch the pot and once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for at least 25 minutes.  In the meantime, make the seitan

Seitan Ingredients:

1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves either finely minced or pressed

Combine the gluten with the nutritional yeast in a medium sized bowl, and combine the rest of the ingredients in a small size bowl.  Create a well in the gluten mixture bowl and pour in the wet mixture.  Stir until the mixture comes together in a dough-like ball, and knead with a spoon along the sides of the bowl for about 2 minutes.  Divide the dough into three parts, and knead and stretch each of them in your hands for about 3 minutes.

Once the stock has come to slow simmer, drop the seitan balls in the liquid, cook them in the covered pot for about an hour.  

To store the seitan, put in a reusable container along with the extra broth to make sure that the seitan stays moist.

Another tip, you should wash any of the cookware that you handled with the raw gluten flour or seitan by hand, not in the dishwasher.  Hand-washing ensures that the loose bits of flour will not turn into protein clumps on your cookware.  

Good luck with everything, and stay cool in scorching Oklahoma 



Kathryn said...

Wow, I'm impressed! one question: why is it bad to put seitan-tainted dishes in the dishwasher?

Alison Wilder said...

YESSSSSSSSS you made seitan. the other day as I was falling asleep or waking up (one of them), I realized, gee, I should really make seitan this summer. IE NOW. thank you angelica's.

BTW, thanks for quoting my second favorite dish in history, THAI FLAVORS GREEN CURRY WITH SEITAN (first is RED CURRY). I have unfortunately been disappointed by a few other seitan incidents, but TF makes me optimistic.