Seitan Bacon Attempt #2



I took on the challenge of adapting the recipe to suit my idea of what is bacon: Salty. Smoky. Crispy. If you could recall, the last attempt had me reminded distinctly of my mum's meatballs, albeit very smoky (by smoky, I meant it tasted and smelled burnt) thanks to the 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke.
Someone had adapted the previous recipe from Chef Skye's cookbook, Seitan and Beyond, so this time I referred to the cookbook for the recipe, making my own adaptation. The original recipe is meant to be sweet, using brown sugar, which wasn't what I wanted.

This is my adaptation:

Ingredients for Dough 1
Dry
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
Wet
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp soy sauce
5-10 drops liquid hickory smoke
1 tbsp miso paste
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vegetarian worchestershire sauce

Ingredients for Dough 2
Dry
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp garlic powder
Wet
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Additional Ingredients
Smoked sea salt to taste

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and whisk together the dry ingredients for Dough 1 in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or a measuring jug, mix together the wet ingredients for Dough 1 ensuring the miso paste has dissolved. 
2. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients for Dough 1 and mix until incorporated. Divide into three pieces and set aside.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for Dough 2, and mix the wet ingredients for Dough 2 in a separate bowl or jug, dissolving the salt. 
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon. Divide the dough into two portions and set aside.
5. Lay a large sheet of aluminium foil on your work surface, and take one portion from Dough 1. Flatten the dough out to about 1cm thick, and take a piece from the second dough, layering it on top. It doesn't need to be perfect as it's meant to be streaky and uneven.
6. Layer the doughs in alternating colours until you have a total of five layers. Shape the dough with your hands into a rectangular slab about 1" thick.
7. Coat with as much smoked sea salt you want and rub it in. Turn the dough over and repeat. Regular salt is fine but this creates a more smoky flavour.
8. Wrap the foil around the dough like you would a present and fold the sides. Turn the foil packet upside down so that the seam is facing down and tuck the side flaps underneath. Wrap another sheet of foil over the first one, folding in the same way.
9. Place the foil packet seam-side down on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 60 minutes.
10. When the seitan is ready, remove the tray from the oven and let the dough cool down enough for you to touch it. Remove it from the tray refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight to improve the texture and make it much easier to slice. 
11. Slice it with a sharp knife. Slice thinly if you want a crispy bacon, or slice it twice as thick for a chewier texture. Fry with a little bit of butter on low heat. Low and slow cooking is better for seitan because it stops it from going hard and chewy.


Verdict
This ticked all the boxes I set out: Salty, smoky and crispy. It had the right amount of saltiness to it, which is a relief because I thought that there would be too much salt in the recipe. The smokiness isn't overpowering like the last time, it's much more subtle this time around. What I liked about this recipe was that it had a similar texture to bacon which delighted me. The previous version was quite spongy, even when fried. 

I had my partner try this out for me, and he said the smell was unpleasant for him, and he couldn't even swallow the bite he had taken out of it. I found that shocking, considering how I liked it enough to eat an entire egg and "bacon" sandwich. Apparently I have forgotten what meat tastes like, because according to the omnivore, it didn't taste meaty to him. 

Perhaps we need another attempt? I fried up a few slices to taste without the influence of eggs or other foods, and he may be right. There's a funky aftertaste that reminds me of burnt food, so I'm starting to think that liquid smoke and worchestershire sauce is what's causing the unpleasant flavour. On top of that, I might adapt this recipe to include garbanzo bean flour as well as nutritional yeast flakes, as they might help some more with the texture and flavour. My partner especially liked anything I made with yeast flakes, because it adds an umami quality for my food, which makes my food taste meatier.

Time to don the apron again.

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