Would you like to make some lasagne, tagliatelle with ragù (called also Bolognese sauce) or rather a burger for your vegan friend, but you have no clue how to replace the meat? Well, Asian solved this problem centuries ago, by inventing seitan, better known also as “mock meat”.
What’s exactly seitan? In one word, gluten. Seitan is obtained by kneading wheat flour with water. The dough is let rest and then washed with water. During the rinsing, all the water-soluble proteins, as albumins, and the starches are flushed away. What remains at the end is the insoluble protein fraction, the gluten.
As mentioned in the former post, this series of vegan recipes are meant to propose some vegetable substitute to ingredients as meat, milk, eggs that are included in many traditional recipes. These substitutions have a merely “technological” scope, meaning that the basic idea is, for example, creating a recipe for vegan lasagne that resembles, in taste and texture, the classical ones. If you are wondering whether seitan could replace meat also from a nutritional point of you, the answer is NO. Being basically gluten, seitan lacks lysine, an essential amino acid, and the heme iron, the form of iron that our body absorbs the best. Thus, my suggestion remains the same: talk to a dietitian or even to your family doctor to understand how to associate the foods and be sure that your vegan diet is well balanced. Obviously, being seitan gluten, it must be avoided by gluten-intolerant people.
But back to us, let’s see how to make seitan :)
Please, note: I have used gluten flour that contains about 72% proteins. The reason? The procedure is much faster and allows a better yield. Ale’! You can also use regular bread flour, but the yield will be much lower.
400 g of gluten flour (72% protein content)
water as needed
salt as needed
1 big scallion
1 stem of leek
Pour the flour in a standing mixer and add some water. Knead with the hook till you get a dough. Stop the mixer, remore the dough, cover it with some paper film and let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. After this time, rinse the dough under lukewarm water. For convenience, I divided the dough in two parts. Keep washing them till the water will be clear (or a kind of). Congratulations, you have isolated the gluten. Now, cut it in four pieces and squeeze them a bit remove some water. The seitan will have this look and a spongy texture:
Place some water to boil in a large pot and add the scallion, the leek and some salt. As soon as the water boils, add the seitan and cook it for 45-50 minutes. After this time, drain the seitan, transfer it into a sealed container and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours. The seitan will release some water. Drain it and cut each piece in the way you like. In my case, I gave seitan the shape of a hamburger and and I stir fried it in a pan, with a bit of olive oil.
Pro: seitan has the texture of meat.
Cons: as tofu, seitan is a bit insipid and gets the flavour of the sauces it is cooked with. For this reason, it is important to cook it in a vegetable broth and the addition of some soy sauce is not to disdain, as it contains glutamate that is a flavour enhancer. I personally found seitan a bit hard to digest, but maybe is it just that I am not used to?