after years of trying to figure out what i was doing "wrong" with my homemade seitan, i've done it. i've made my first batch on non-spongey seitan! i knew it had to be possible because i've been eating nice, firmly textured seitan in asian restaurants all along, but i could never get anyone to explain how they did it.
first, i stopped trying to mix and knead the vital gluten flour etc. with liquids by hand. i put it all into my electric breadmaker and let it do the work on the "dough" setting. i actually put it through the dough setting twice. i think the double kneadings and long resting times really helped. then, i did NOT cut the resultant lump into "steaks" or "cutlets" before simmering it. instead i wrapped the whole big blob up very tightly into a big swatch of cheesecloth and tied it up firmly with kitchen twine. i cooked it in a huge pot filled with veggie stock and spices overnight over low heat, just enough to maintain a very slow boil. when i took it out and cooled it slightly and then cut off a little slice to try, i was incredibly impressed with the texture. so excited i made everyone in my house try a piece even though it was only seven-thirty in the morning.
i am going to try doing all sorts of interesting things to this new technique, like adding ground nuts or cooked lentils into the bread machine to be kneaded into the gluten, different spices and maybe things like sundried tomatoes or olives. i'll try slices up the resultant "roasts" and pan-frying them, or breading them and baking them, or just serving thin slices on bread as sandwich fillings. i can now safely say that everyone in my home thinks i am truly the seitan goddess. hooray for kitchen witchery!