For The Glory Of Seitan!

Yesterday, I spent most of my time in the kitchen, whipping up a few batches of seitan. The diet I've embarked upon requires me to consume a substantial amount of protein, and what better source of protein than seitan? Vital wheat gluten is roughly 75% protein, compared to 10% of protein in extra-firm tofu, less in softer tofu.

Earlier this year, my partner and I tried to do a low-carb diet, but we failed. We figured that as long as we reduced the amount of carbs in our food, that was all that's needed. Wrong, we didn't account for the fact that we would be rolling on the floor, moaning "Feed me, I'm hungry!" on repeat like a broken record. It turned out that we completely ignored the fact we needed a constant supply of protein every day to feel full, so that we didn't depend on constant snacking of carbohydrates.

I've done a bit of experimenting on how long it takes for me to get hungry again with foods containing mostly carbs and little protein, and the results are instantaneous. Just two hours ago for lunch, I had a small bowl of last night's leftovers, and it only had about 4g of protein due to the tofu, and roughly 20g of carbs from the brown rice and vegs, and now I'm hungry again.

This is what I had for dinner last night, and for lunch today.

It is because of this that I am stocking my freezer up with homemade seitan products to curb my appetite.

Today, I followed Chef Skye's recipe book, Seitan and Beyond, to make chicken substitute, also known as 'Chikun'. I followed the recipe mostly to a T, changing a few things in the ingredients because I had run out of some things. I shaped 3/4 of the seitan into tenders, and the rest into nuggets/chunks, for curries and stirfries. I doubled the recipe so that I'd have a decent amount waiting in the freezer before I had to make more. This recipe produces about ten 45g tenders, each piece containing about 11g of protein from the gluten and 1.4g protein from the tofu. 4 tenders in a meal, and I've got about 80% of the daily amount of protein.

I just looked at the original recipe again, and it turned out that I've botched the quantity of onion and garlic powder, using tablespoons instead of teaspoons. Well, shit - no doubt the seitan will taste garlicky... The following ingredients are listed in teaspoons because I don't want you lot making the same mistake as I did. This is my adaptation. If you want the real recipe, head on over here and buy the ebook.

1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp garlic powder

140g extra-firm tofu, pressed
160ml water
1 tbsp white miso paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

Simmering Broth:
12 cups of water
12 tsp of Massels Chicken Stock Powder

1. Firstly, wrap your tofu several times in a paper towel, and press with a flat surface and few cans, if you haven't done so already. Set aside. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
3. Prepare your food processor, or blender, if you wish. Add all the wet ingredients, and crumble the tofu. Blend on the highest speed until the tofu is liquefied. This takes several minutes. Pause the blending every two minutes or so to scrape down the sides. It must be liquefied to the point where the mixture becomes creamy and smooth. As Chef Skye says, this is essential!

4. Pour the tofu mixture into the dry ingredients, and don't scrape down the remaining tofu from the blender, it is not needed. Mix the ingredients together with a spatula until incorporated. Turn out onto the chopping board and knead for three minutes, until the dough becomes quite elastic and doesn't tear apart easily when stretched.
5. This is where the pastry chef in me comes out: Using a set of scales, cut the seitan into 43g pieces, this should produce ten tenders. Heh, heh, ten tenders, ten tenders, ten tenders...

6. Knead each piece a little bit before rolling it into a log, stretching it out so that it starts ripping a little bit. Resist mushing the torn edges together, because the imperfections adds to the authenticity. Place on the tray. Repeat with the rest of the seitan.
7. Put the tray on the middle shelf in the oven, uncovered and leave to cook for 20 minutes, turning over once halfway.
8. Boil the stock, and when the seitan is ready, lower the tenders slowly into the stock. Immediately
reduce the heat to low, and let simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Do not let the stock boil again, so keep an eye on it.
9. Turn off the heat and let the pieces sit in the stock until it turns lukewarm. Place the tenders into a container with 1/4 of the stock and refrigerate overnight to firm and enhance the texture. Do not skip this step.
10. To freeze or to finish and use the tenders, take the tenders out of the broth and pat dry with paper towels. You may proceed to use it in whatever recipes you so desire, or do it like me and freeze it. I line an airtight container with strips of baking paper, and layer the seitan on it. I prefer having the baking paper in between layers to stop the pieces from sticking together into one solid mass.

Here's hoping I didn't screw up yesterday's batch so badly with the excessive amount of garlic and onion powder that it's rendered inedible. Prays fervently. At least I didn't ruin the seitan bacon I also made yesterday!


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