Vegan recipes to try: Homemade seitan
Seitan is a vegan product made primarily from vital wheat gluten, and it is mixed with other ingredients to give it more flavour. The texture of seitan varies from soft and chewy to more thready, but it comes quite close to the texture of meat. The main ingredient in seitan, vital wheat gluten, is a fantastic source of vegan protein – it packs a whooping 75g of protein per 100g (three times more than beef!). If you have ever had a great vegan burger that tasted too close to the real thing, chances are it was most likely made from seitan. The main disadvantage, however, is that since it is pure gluten it is not suitable for gluten-free diets. Nevertheless, once you have mastered the basics of using vital wheat gluten, it is a very versatile tool under your vegan belt.
The making of it is pretty easy – decide which ingredients you want to combine and mix everything in one bowl. There are so many variations and recipes out there, so have a look and see which sounds most tempting. A good and very easy base recipe is this one, from Sam Turnbull.
A general tip is to make sure to not over-knead the dough; the more you knead, the more it will activate the gluten and the harder and chewier it will make the consistency (this fun fact is true for other flour-based products, too). After you have the dough, you can either steam it or boil it in veggie stock. You do not need a steaming basket for this; it is quite easy to fashion one from a colander/strain, a deep pan and aluminium foil.
Now, vital wheat gluten is not that widely available to purchase in normal supermarkets yet, but you can find it in any Holland & Barrett supermarket in Cardiff for around £2 for 500g (there are at least three in the City Centre and at least one on Albany Rd.), or you can order it online for cheaper. However, a little goes a very long way, especially if you mix it with tofu or vegetables, so in the long run, it will end up much cheaper than buying ready-made vegan burgers.
This whole process may seem a little daunting, but it is important to relax and enjoy the creative adventure.
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