Having a teenage vegetarian in the house is not without it's challenges. The menu is constantly rotating to avoid boredom and to ensure she is getting all of the right nutrients. We were doing pretty good until the announcement at Christmas that fish was off the menu. 2 months prior to the fish announcement tofu was ousted from rotation too. Thankfully, legumes of all sorts are still on the hit list. Still, we needed additional protein options.
It turns out, even with eliminating these two big protein categories there are LOTS of vegetarian and vegan options so one can eat a healthy, nutritious and tasty diet. With deeper digging as to why fish and tofu were getting the thumbs down we discovered our vegetarian was missing having something to really sink her teeth into – like meat. Enter (angelic sound) Seiten.
What is Seitan?
Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten flour. Mixing the flour with some basic spices and vegetable broth makes a rubbery thick dough that can be formed into cutlets, poached and then prepared with numerous seasonings. It looks and can taste pretty similar to meat. Sometimes called “wheat meat”, “wheat gluten” or simply “gluten”, seitan is surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked, making it a popular meat substitute. High in protein, it is a popular with vegetarians. Asian restaurants often use seitan as a vegetarian mock meat, and seitan is also the base for several commercially available products such as Tofurky deli slices.
How to Make Seitan
Armed with what we wanted to try we started to look for how to make the stuff. The video below was very helpful. We made our seiten from vital wheat gluten – not from scratch. After poaching the cutlets I cooked it several ways. The most popular recipe was mock ribs with a homemade organic bbq sauce. It was seriously good. Check out the video from Hungry Nation.
Since I'm all about high quality – low cost organic food I was more than curious about how much the ingredients would wind up costing us. A bag of Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour (sadly, not organic) cost $8.95. Using half of the bag along with homemade organic vegetable stock and staple spices made enough seiten for 7 large cutlets. Now, after making the cutlets you still have to 'spice up' the wheat meat and cook it in a meal. Regardless, you can't beat the price and the protein power this stuff packs. Now I just have to find an organic variety of the flour.