Vegan Grandma

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Vegan Orange Seitan

I began a challenge to myself yesterday to try one new vegan recipe a day. Yesterday, the first day of my challenge, I wanted to try yuba (bean curd skin) which I had bought at a Chinese grocery store. I made Buddha’s "Chicken" from Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen, by Bryanna Clark Grogan. It was really good. Bryanna has lots of good vegan recipes on her blog, and in her books (She’s written 8). I want to experiment more with yuba, so I’ll write more about it later.

Today I made a recipe using Seitan. Seitan (pronounced "SAY-tan" is a protein-rich food made from wheat gluten.

In 7th century China, vegetarian Buddhist monks, looking for ways to make vegetarian protein which would be close to the flavors of traditional Chinese cuisine, invented tofu. Then they looked for something with a texture more like that of the meat so that they could serve their guests what they were used to eating. They discovered that when they kneaded wheat dough in a tub full of cold water, the starch dissolved into the water. What finally remained was a chewy substance that was almost pure protein or "gluten", from which they made seitan. Wheat gluten is the protein from wheat with the starch removed. Seitan is gluten which has been cooked in a broth, usually with soy sauce.

Make Your Own Seitan

Many of the "mock meats" that are served in some Asian restaurants or are sold in some Asian food stores are made from seitan. Prepared seitan is available at health-food stores and Asian markets, but I think it is a little expensive. You can make gluten from scratch using wheat flour, but the process is involved, but it is very easy make seitan from vital wheat gluten which is available inexpensively at natural food stores and many supermarkets (People sometimes add it to bread dough to make high-gluten bread). Do not confuse this with high gluten flour which would not work in these recipes.

This is a basic recipe for gluten. Gluten by itself, can be bland, but it is delicious used in other recipes. It that can be used to replace meat many recipes.


Makes 4 servings
1 and 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup water
6 cups vegetable stock

Stir together in a bowl, the vital wheat gluten and 1 cup water or vegetable stock.

Knead a minute to blend. Divide into about 20 balls, stretching and pressing to flatten into cutlets.

Drop the gluten cutlets into 6 cups vegetable stock.

Cover the pan and bring the stock to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer the cutlets gently for about 50 minutes. Drain and cool before using.

Vegan Orange Seitan
serves 6

Here is the recipe I made today. I thought it was great, and I think it will be even better tomorrow, after the sauce has more of a chance to soak into the seitan. I’ll let you know.
The recipe is from Cooking with Gluten and Seitan, by Dorothy R. Bates and Colby Wingate, published by The Book Publishing Company, Summertown, Tennessee, p.77.

Zest from 1 large navel orange*
1 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons arrowroot (I didn’t have arrowroot, so I used 2 tablespoons of corn starch, which seemed to work better that 1 tablespoon.)
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons agave nectar (a cactus derived sweetener, available at natural food stores)**
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups Seitan, cut into thin strips

Place all of the ingredients except the Seitan in a saucepan. Whisk and simmer until thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat. You can stir in one tablespoon soy margarine for extra richness if you wish.

Heat the Seitan by wrapping in foil and heating 10 minutes in an oven or toaster oven.

Add the Seitan to the sauce. Serve over brown rice and arrange orange slices on top.

*Use a zester or a grater to remove the zest from the orange. Be careful not to get any of the white membrane. Later you can remove the white membrane from the orange and slice the orange for garnish.

**The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of honey, instead of agave.


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