Gluten Vegetarian Meat (Seitan) Chunks, How to Make them?
On one of our trips to Singapore (2007), we were taken to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant by a friend. We several dishes there that tasted like meat/chicken/fish but were made with Seitan. They all tasted superb, loved not only by me, but all the meat eaters in our group. The lady in the restaurant described the process of making it to me roughly. I have discovered that it is surprisingly easy to make at home, though not as good as theirs. On the plus side, home made gluten is not only fresh, it has no additives. I am sure that it can be made from other flours too, like rye, oat, barley and spelt, but I havent tried making it.
It is very useful for people who like, like me, the taste and texture of the meat but dont want to eat it for ethical/other reasons. It is not suitable for you, if you are allergic to gluten. It tastes closer to meat texture than Soya or other meat substitutes. It makes roughly half the weight of the amount of flour you use. This amount is enough for 1-2.
2 cups of chapatti or whole meal/white flour
Water to make a soft dough
Plenty of cold water to wash dough
3-4 cups of water to boil washed chunks of gluten
2 tbsp. light Soya sauce (vegetable stock cubes or salt or flavours like ginger, onions, herbs, added to a pot of boiling water in place of Soya sauce. Plain water can also be used to boil chunks)
Make a soft dough with as much water as required. I don't knead it too much at this stage.
Leave for 10 minutes and knead it again to get it smooth.
Leave it for a couple of hours.
Washing the Dough: Place dough in a bowl full of cold tap water.
Knead it in water, the water will get creamy/muddy, discard it.
Knead and wash again and again, until the water that runs is clear. You may need 10-20 changes of water until this happens. What you are trying to do is to wash off the starch part of the flour. The last wash should be clear.
Washing dough in a colander
At step 4, you can put the dough in a colander (sieve with large holes), as shown in picture.
Knead it gently under running water. Make sure you don't press too hard, or you will lose your dough through the holes. Initially, water will be thick white. Continue to knead and wash, until water runs clear.
Preparing Gluten for cooking
You are left with a stretchy, stringy mass, which is approximately half the size of your original dough ball. This is 'gluten' wheat protein or Seitan.
You can flavour it at this stage directly by adding things to to it, or later, by cooking it in flavoured water/stock.
Roll out the stretchy gluten ball thickly and cut into meat sized chunks, or into whatever shapes you want, e.g. shredded pieces.
Boil 3-4 cups of water in a pan and flavour it with your chosen flavour.
Add chunks to it and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The pieces will swell up a little and float in water.
Drain, cool and store in the fridge, ready for use.
Seitan can be frozen.