My non-vegan husband makes homemade seitan for me. He actually insists on it.
Just let that sink in for a minute.
I think I’ve mentioned this before—Irving grew up in the Dominican Republic on a vegetarian college campus (his parents are professors). It’s a big part of the reason that he doesn’t mind that I’m vegan even though he’s not—he’s been eating vegetarian food for his whole life, and is totally happy to do so most of the time. He’s actually taught me a lot about vegetarianism/veganism, and keeps me stocked with movies like Forks Over Knives and Food Matters—he’s a victim of his own success. One of the vegan foods he introduced me to is Carne Veggie, or Seitan. It’s sometimes called “wheat meat” and it is a faux meat made with the gluten of wheat flour. Seitan originally hails from China where there was once a vegetarian emperor who wanted to eat meat-like foods, but not actual meat. Now seitan is a common grocery store item!
When I was first vegetarian (pre vegan) and we were visiting, one of his family friends made a batch and insisted that I try “carne veggie.” I had no idea what that was, and had never heard of seitan. I tried it and couldn’t tell if they were trying to trick me or not—my Spanish isn’t very good! It was tasty, but I didn’t think much about it until I got Chef Chloe’s first cookbook with several recipes in it each calling for seitan. I’ve made my own, but I like the way Irving’s comes out better, and I like that he is the one making it!
Irving has told me stories of the cafeteria ladies (on the college campus) going to the cafeteria at 4 am to get the seitan going so that it would be fresh for lunch each day! They would actually take wheat flour and mix with water to make a dough, and then wash the starch away, removing all but the gluten—I can not imagine how tedious this would be. So glad they sell gluten ready made! This seitan comes together in about a half hour of active time, and another hour or so of inactive time.
Seitan—This is a BIG batch. It makes approximately the same as 6-8 store bought boxes of seitan. We divide into 4 portions—refrigerating two and freezing two. It freezes beautifully and thaws right back to its original texture.
If you don’t want a big batch (but you really should!), you can go ahead and make a 1/4 batch—just divide everything by 4. We find that it’s not any harder to make a big batch, and then we have it ready to go!
1 ½ T powdered garlic
1 T adobo (optional)
1 ½ T ground ginger
4 c vital wheat gluten (we use Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 c veggie broth (we use Rapunzel loose bouillon powder according to package directions)
¼ c aminos/soy sauce
2 T tamari optional
½ c water
4 c veggie broth (again, we use Rapunzel loose bouillon powder)
1 pound carrots (4)
1 pound onion (2)
½ pound celery
1 bunch cilantro
2 ounces ginger (3 inches)
6 c water
1 T molasses
Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and stir. Then begin to knead lightly by hand, forming a spongy dough. If you bite off a piece it will have the texture of garlic bubble gum (mmmm….). Don’t overknead, as it will get too tough and glutinous (oh the irony!). Set ball of dough aside.
Put all broth ingredients into a LARGE stock pot. Our 6 quart is full to the brim with this jumbo batch. Alternately, divide evenly between two smaller pots.
Cut the dough ball into 2 or 3 inch pieces, mimicking “cutlets” of some type. Remember that it will be very rubbery until it cooks, and it will also stick together. To prevent sticking, place pieces directly into the broth.
Place pot on stove and boil for 45 minutes. It will reduce—don’t add more water. Remove from heat. Pick out pieces of seitan and place into sealable containers*. We freeze some of it right away to use at a later time. It freezes great, and thaws in the microwave with no change in texture. Just make sure you hang on to one portion of it for my Virtual Vegan Potluck Seitan Marbella coming up on Friday night!
* We discard the broth and boiling veggies. You could save it and use it for something else, although we find that the flavor is pretty distinct! Taste it and see what you want to do with it. And if you come up with a great idea, let us know!
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