Basic seitan (mock meat)

This stuff is the queen of fake meat, and it’s super cheap to make. Wheat gluten—often called “vital wheat gluten”—is the protein separated from wheat flour, in powder form. Find it at your health food or bulk food store.

A note on spices: This is the “chicken” version of seitan. The classic poultry/fowl spices are thyme, sage, and rosemary. Heavy on the thyme and sage. Build on variations of those to your taste or whatever’s in your cupboard. If you don’t have the exact ones on hand, improvise. No sage? Then substitute oregano for a more Italian flavor, etc. and so on. Few dishes will be RUINED if you ad lib a bit.

Use: This is best fried or sauteed to give it a crisp. Once you do so, you can use it in pasta sauces, sandwiches, cold salads (think seitan “chicken” salad), etc. Of course, you can fry it chicken-style and serve with mashed potatoes. Yum!

Ingredients

Dry:
1 and ½ cup gluten
3 tbsp veggie broth powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
several grinds of black pepper
½ tsp MSG (Stop staring in horror. “MSG poisoning/headaches/toxicity” are not real. Really.)-sold as “Accent.”

Wet:
¾ cup water
2 tbsp tamari/shoyu/soy sauce
1 tbsp veggie broth powder stirred in
1 tbsp oil stirred in
Enough water in a pan to cover the seitan, with enough broth powder/stock in it to make a good salty broth.

Technique

Stir together dry ingredients in one bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl. Stir in liquid into dry ingredients with a spoon into a loose ball. Turn onto a surface and knead the fuck out of it. Since this is pure gluten, it’ll be much stiffer and more rubbery than any bread dough you’ve worked. Just keep mashing it, folding it, turning it until it’s really elastic. Don’t worry about perfect technique cuz it doesn’t matter.

Let rest for 20 minutes.

Cut/shape into cutlets, stretching the seitan with your hands into the shape you want. Again, irregular shapes are just fine.

Two cooking options

Pot on the stove—bring salty broth (enough to cover the seitan, or about1.5 quarts in a 4-quart pan) to a simmer and add cutlets. Cover and cook for 1 and ½ hours, turning over occasionally. Remove from broth and let cool, draining liquid run off.

Pressure cooker—put broth and cutlets in cooker and bring to pressure. Cook 25 minutes and use any release method you like. Take cutlets out of broth and allow to cool.

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