Making Seitan

I have the day off today, so I decided to try to make some seitan. One of my favourite components of the set menu at Mikoan (when it was still there) was the seitan sausage wrapped in filo pastry. One of my husband’s work colleagues has recently decided he is vegetarian again and, in order to get a variety of protein into his diet, asked me if I knew how to make seitan.

I didn’t, but I do know how to Google. I found an excitable post on Buzzfeed which had links to a couple of recipes. I also found a recipe on Vegetarian Times. The recipe that I found most appealing was the one on The PPK. This is the recipe I’ve followed today. I halved the quantities, in case it didn’t turn out so good, and I completely forgot to add the olive oil to the dough mix. It doesn’t seem to have made a difference.

I had a hard time finding the wheat gluten and yeast flakes. I could have ordered some of the Bob’s Red Mill wheat gluten online, but I prefer to shop locally if I can. We have a vegan food co-operative a half hour’s walk from our house, so we tried there. It took some searching, but eventually I found what I needed. I bought the Unicorn’s own blend of nutritional yeast flakes, but they also sell the Marigold Engevita brand. This is also available online, if you don’t have a wholefood store nearby.

Because I’m in the UK, and we don’t tend to use cups as a measure, I took the executive decision of saying a cup was the same as half a pint. Because my husband likes things spicy, I also decided to add half a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (七味唐辛子).

I made a pint of vegetable stock using a Kallo vegetable stock cube, then separated off a tablespoon which I made up to 2.5fl.oz. with cold water and then left in the fridge to chill. While the stock for the dough was chilling, I topped up the pint of stock for the cooking broth, poured it into the pan with the water and soy sauce and lit the heat under the pan.

As the stock came to a boil, I mixed the wheat gluten and yeast flakes together in a large bowl. I used a metal spoon to keep things cool. I don’t know if that made a difference!

I took the chilled stock from the fridge and mixed that with the crushed garlic clove and soy sauce in a smaller bowl.

Then I mixed the stock into the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon as instructed. It seemed very wet once all of the stock was in there, so I added another tablespoon of wheat gluten to dry it out a little. It was still moist, but didn’t fall apart when I picked it up to start kneading.

I did the full 3 minutes, treating it fairly roughly, but not as rough as I would if I were making bread. By the time I’d finished kneading it, although still not dry, the dough was firmer and more elastic than when the ingredients were first combined in the bowl. I left it to rest for probably another two minutes until the cooking broth had come to a rolling boil. I turned the heat down so that the broth was simmering and lowered the dough into the pan.

Throughout the 45 minute simmering time, I turned the dough five times at regular intervals. Around halfway through the simmer period, the dough was looking like this.

I wish my camera was able to capture smell and I could transmit it to you across the internet, because my kitchen was smelling delicious at this point!

Once the simmering time was up, I took off the lid, turned out the heat, and left the seitan to rest for 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, I lifted the seitan into a strainer and let it rest on top of the pan until it was cool enough to handle and slice up.

Remembering my Home Economics classes at school 30 years ago, I did the dishes while I was waiting for the seitan to rest and cool down. I couldn’t wait until my husband came home from work and had to try some of it fried up on a sandwich with a little rocket picked from the garden. The remainder I put into a food saver with the broth so that we could have it for dinner later.

I am happy to report that it tasted every bit as good as it smelled while it was cooking. It’s a little salty for my taste (Mr Hicks will like it), so I might try using a reduced salt soy sauce next time I make it. The texture is quite firm, so maybe I need to knead more gently next time around, or perhaps I added too much extra wheat gluten. It fries up a treat, though.

It took a while, around 90 minutes altogether, but was really easy to make and of course I still have over half of the loaf waiting to cook with tonight, so it’s something that can be made in advance when you have time. I’ve read that it can keep for up to 10 days if refrigerated. It was definitely worth hunting the ingredients down for. Veggie, vegan or omnivore who fancies a bit of a change, why not give it a try yourself?


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