Seitan is a hearty vegan protein. My dad pronounces it SATAN, which is entirely acceptable although alternative pronunciations are preferred by some. The homemade version is somewhat of a pain to master, but much better than the store-bought stuff. Vital wheat gluten flour is a convenience product that consists of only the gluten-forming proteins of the wheat berry. Get it in bulk at health-food stores. While seitan can be made from just whole wheat flour and water, that is a messy process. Try making seitan from vital wheat gluten first, then try the traditional method if you like.
The seasonings are open to modification. This combination is particularly savory, especially with the forthcoming GRAVY, which I will add in a future post. Adjust the amount of chipotle to your desired spiciness. Garden oregano, which doesn’t seem to have as many uses as some other garden herbs, lends subtle reinforcement to the ‘Mexican’ note provided by dried chipotle chilies. So do the carrots, believe it or not.
For some reason I really like eating this with a mixture of short grain brown rice and wild rice, pressure-cooked together in about a 3:1 ratio (cook them in a regular pot if you don’t have a pressure cooker). You might say wild rice brings out the true chicken flavor from the seitan, but, being vegan, you are obviously wrong because seitan doesn’t have any chicken in it at all.
This is a recipe ‘in progress’, but one that Mama makes repeatedly so it must be worth something. See what you think.
Mexican Chicken-Style Seitan
this serves six or more with rice and keeps well (in fact it is a good food to eat cold without bothering to close the refrigerator door, if you are in that kind of a mood); gravy forthcoming
2 ½ cups vital wheat gluten, aka wheat gluten
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1 ½ cups water
3 quarts water, more as needed
1/2 cup additional soy sauce
4 scallions (green onions)
4 whole garlic cloves
5 small branches fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
2-4 dried chipotle chillies
salt to taste
Put the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl and stir them together with your hands or a utensil.
Measure the olive oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1 1/2 cups water into a different bowl and mix them up, then dump the wet mixture in with the wheat gluten mixture.
Stir the gluten mixture and wet mixture together with sweeping motions so that as much water as possible touches as much dry stuff as possible right away. Don’t over-stir before you judge the mixture! Before it is totally mixed, see if there is a lot of dry gluten at the bottom of the bowl. If so, add a splash more water. If the mixture seems crumbly and soggy, on the other hand, add some more gluten (yes it is counter-intuitive, as you would think that a crumbly mixture needs extra water, but in fact it’s the other way around).
Knead the mixture briefly just to combine all of the ingredients and make sure there are no dry spots. Set it aside in the bowl while you get the broth ready.
For the broth, measure or eyeball about 3 quarts of water into a large pot. Add 1/2 cup soy sauce. Turn the heat on high to start the mixture simmering. Clean the carrots and cut them into large chunks before adding them to the pot. Slice the scallions and add them, along with the garlic (peeled and left whole, but slightly crushed with the blunt end of your knife), oregano and chipotles.
When the broth starts boiling, tear or cut the gluten mixture into pieces. Make the pieces big or small, but know that they expand and grow as they cook. Add them to the broth, and, once they are all in, reduce the heat to low or medium-low to keep it simmering gently. Allow it to simmer for an hour or so, adding water as needed to keep the gluten covered. There is no need for a lid, but stir occasionally because the gluten will tend to float and dry out on the surface. Careful not to boil it violently.