Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Not-So-Great Seitan

Since I wrote about seitan last week, I thought I'd splog myself and repeat my own blog report on my effort to make my own, with a follow-up EXCLUSIVE to THIS space!!!! (Oh, aren't we excited NOW?)

I read a piece in the Foods section of the newspaper about seitan or "wheat meat" and decided to try it. So I hitched up the mules to the buckboard and made the trek to a town big enough to have a grocery that carrys it. Bought some. Cost about 4 bucks for a few ounces, but Charlie and I only eat meat as a condiment, for the most part, so this meat substitute did us for three meals.

It was pretty darn good, so I went online and found a recipe for making it myself.

Did NOT work. Here is the recipe I got, because I think the fault was mine. I'm not crediting the recipe, in case the fault was NOT mine.


* 2 cups high-gluten flour
* 1 1/4 cups broth or water
* 3 tsp oil
* herbs, spices, seasoning

Mix dry ingredients, then liquids. Knead about 15 times, let rest 5 minutes, knead a little more, let rest 15 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces, form into cutlets. Put into hot broth, cover, simmer for 30-60 minutes. Use, refrigerate or freeze.

Okay, I used bread flour, because it's higher in gluten than regular flour, but maybe not high enough. I used water, corn oil, onion powder, dried sage, dried celery leaves and salt.

The proportions of liquid to dry made a goop that could in no way be kneaded, so I added maybe 1/2 cup more flour, little by little until it was kneadable. Did all the rest as instructed. Cutlets looked like cutlets.

When done, the cutlets looked like cutlets coated in slime. When cut, they were gummy and heavy and thick.

I put the broth into a pot, cubed one of the cutlets, added some cut up mushrooms, carrots, celery and a can of butterbeans and simmered that for another 45 minutes or so.

The cutlet cubes were like chunks of chewy dumplings--not at all like the seitan I bought at the store. Lucky for us, we like chewy dumplings, so I froze the rest of the cutlets to use the next time we want to eat something almost totally indigestible.

Supper--WIN, seitan--FAIL.

So now I'm going to plunk down some do-re-mi and buy a seitan cookbook that promises to tell me how to make it.

I'll let you know how that turns out.


The book hasn't arrived, but the follow-up is this: I got one of the frozen cutlets out and defrosted it, coated it in seasoned bread crumbs and sprayed it with buttery spray and cooked it in a skillet at a medium-low heat for about half an hour, turning once half-way through. The result was still not what one might call "good"--except for a given value of "good"--but not as bad as it was before.

Charlie said, "It tastes good, but the texture is.... What's the word I'm looking for...?" I said, "Gummy?" He said, "Yeah, that's it. Gummy." "But not as gummy as it was when I boiled it?" "No, not that gummy."

So I consider it an improvement. Matter of fact, I'm getting to like it, and that scares me.


1 comment:

Dana Fredsti said...

I am scared to try this, yet absolutely intrigued!