Wednesday, November 5, 2008

hippie seitan

Since I am allergic to soy, I am no great believer in fake meats. Plus, as a border-line hippie I am always nervous of hard-core hippies with their ideals and patchouli. But if there's one thing I learned from Zen Palate, it is that I freaking love seitan. It's so chewy and wholesome feeling and not fatty or filled with reminders that you are eating an animal. Seitan is kind of the poster child for Michael Pollan's "diet advice" that the Shiras related this weekend and I kind of fell in love with:

eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

In any event, I would never think to reintroduce something so p.c. and urbane into my suburban lifestyle, but some cockamamie Moosewood recipe called for seitan, so I booked it to the independent natural foods store in town to pick up some vital wheat protein (awww) and tried my hand. Seitan is actually really easy and cheap to make, so if you don't like to cook meat (like this kid) you should for sure make some seitan, because it is hardcore protein and also cooks up real nice in a stir fry and you don't have to have the weight of a brutal meat industry on your shoulders or worry about getting salmonella or whatever it is that those hippie vegans are always telling you. Score!


1 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten (if you live somewhere normal, pick this up at the grocery store or whole foods. if you live somewhere with trees, it might be more of a hunt)
1 cup water
vegetable broth or some kind of substitute (soy sauce, veggie bouillion, ginger, garlic, grill seasoning, dried mushrooms...)

Mix the gluten into the water, and then knead like crazy. It'll probably take a good five minutes or so. You want to toughen those gluten fibers-- like the opposite of muffins, you know that whole stir until barely combined thing-- so really go for it. Especially if you want your end product to be dense and chewy instead of... kind of puffy and chewy.

Form a log as best you can and let it rest while you boil your broth. I didn't realize that there would be broth involved in this operation, but found in my cupboard none other than the BOOTLEG VEGAN BOUILLION that Miles & I used to steal from the cupboards in germany to flavor pretty much everything we tried to cook. Turns out it still makes a horrifying veggie broth; I dumped it and started over with mushrooms, soy sauce, that kind of stuff. As it boils, cut your well rested seitan into strips. Boil these guys for 5-10 minutes.

You now have the equivalent of uncooked tofu! But way better. So cook it up instead of meat and chew your way to a more ethical lifestyle. Change you can believe in.

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