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Abbey 03-04-2010 04:56 AM

So I went to a gourmet vegan restaurant a few weeks ago and had the best seitan dish I've ever tasted. I almost never eat seitan, so I forgot what the texture was like. This seitan was so moist and tender that I didn't need a knife to eat it, I just cut it with my fork!

Fast forward to last night, when I decided to try making it myself from gluten flour (I made the seitan cutlet recipe from Veganomicon). It was SO rubbery when it was done that it was even hard to cut with a knife! I started wondering what I had done wrong.

But then it occurred to me, maybe the seitan at the restaurant was made from scratch (starting with whole wheat flour and kneading it in water until the rest of the flour is drained and you're left with the gluten). I've never made seitan from scratch before, so I don't know if the texture is different than when you make it by starting with gluten flour. I would think it would be softer, since there's all that water you're kneading the flour in, and chances are you won't get as "pure" gluten as buying mechanically extracted gluten flour.

Has anyone here made it both ways? Was the seitan from scratch more moist and tender? I'm not planning to make it again anytime soon, since I was so disappointed last night. I knew my seitan wouldn't taste exactly like the dish from the restaurant, but I was surprised at just how different it was.

MrFalafel 03-04-2010 06:38 AM

You can counter the rubbery-ness of seitan made using gluten powder by adding something else to the dry mix prior to mixing in the wet mix. The recipe I use calls for about 3 tbps of nutritional yeast flakes for every two cups of gluten powder. Varying the amount of nutritional yeast greatly affects how rubbery/non rubbery the seitan is. The seitan I make you can cut with a fork as you describe and I make it with gluten powder.

Way back in the olden days, I used to make seitan from scratch using normal flour and not only was it a gruelling exercise the results were never as good as when I later started making it with gluten powder. First of all, you need to buy the right kind of flour (strong flour) then make a dough. You then kneed the bejesus out of it for a very long time, then let sit, then knead again. Hard work. You then need to use a huge amount of water while kneading and rinsing to get the starch off. This always felt really wasteful as the amount of water you need to rinse effectively is HUGE (or at least it was for me). This process usually took a couple of hours. Then, you'd drop the gluten into stock to cook into seitan. As the gluten was 'wet' it wouldn't really absorb all of taht good flavour as compared to mixing wet ingredients directly into dry gluten powder. This meant the seitan was never quite as tasty as the gluten powder kind. Texture wise, handmade seitan was always a bit loose and a bit starchy.

I'd recommend working with adding fillers to your gluten powder before going down the road of making it from scratch.

Abbey 03-04-2010 02:45 PM

Thanks MrFalafel! I didn't add anything to my gluten flour, so that would explain it! I'm looking forward to trying this again soon. I'll post the results.

New England Vegan 03-05-2010 03:05 PM

Yes, thank you Mr. Falafel. You may want to consider changing your name to Mr. Seitan.

fcp 03-30-2010 11:05 AM

Does anybody know how to create that "pulled pork" texture we get in some commercial Seitan brands? My knife cuts are too clean and make it slippery for the sauce and it also falls from the sandwich all over the plate.

It is also too "flexible" to pull with a fork, as you would with chicken or pork.

Blobbenstein 03-30-2010 11:17 AM

I made it once with too little water at the dough stage, and because of this, when I boiled it, it didn't seem to absorb much more of the water....and it was very tough....maybe you add too little water..?

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