Home Made Seitan Puffs or Braised Gluten
I've always loved Seitan
and I've never learned that term until recently. I was thinking about one of my aunts who makes delicious "sweet and sour gluten" and really wanted to make it myself - so I attempted to figure out how to make the basic seitan first, and then we'll go from there.
Seitan is a meat alternative, and I guess it's got proteins in it. Basically, you take flour and knead it until it gets tough - or form the gluten. The more you knead for this recipe, the better. Then, you was away the flour such that you're left with the gluten (or what they call seitan).
1 cup bread flour (or gluten flour)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
Basic ratio turns out to being 2 parts flour and 1 part water with a pinch of salt. It seems to work really well for this! Combine the 2 ingredients until they form a dough, and knead, and knead. This will be helpful if you have a machine that can do it for you! I used bread flour as I couldn't find gluten flour anywhere (I wanted a Chinese brand, but basically the more gluten your flour has, the better!). If you use All Purpose Flour, this will work too, but you'll be washing out more than half of the dough's size as not as much gluten is formed.
After extensive kneading, the dough should be a tad tough with a lot of give. If you poke your finger at it, it should bounce back - almost looking as though you didn't poke it at all. At this point, I let it sit as I set up the sink tap to a comfortable warm temperature.
Once the water is at a nice temperature, I just keep washing the dough, and the flour will eventually wash out. You'll be left with something that looks stringy, but it's holding on together. It's quite a delicate process, so treat this with care - you don't want to be breaking it up into part, or you'll never get it back together!
When you think the water from the dough has started to run clear, or close to it - you're probably done washing the flour out. For me, as I've used the bread flour, I did loose about half the dough, but it's no big deal. I just went and made another batch! Notice the texture on the left, as it's really "brain like"...
From here, I chop up the gluten into little pieces as I'm experimenting, I like mini portions. I set up some oil to fry with, and it's important it's at a low heat with hot oil. Since it's made with a lot of water, it can either blow up or cause a lot of splashing if the oil is too hot. I just leave the seitan sitting there as the oil comes up to temperature.
Now, when the oil seems hot (poke a wooden chopstick in the oil, and it starts bubbling around the chopstick), I'm ready to start frying! Ideally, they will puff up and you just keep moving the pieces of gluten so they don't stick to each other! I pull them out when they're golden brown.
Alright, now we got our seitan puffs, I just make a nice braising liquid. This time, I used a curry and I braise it for a few hours until the flavours get in. Once it's flavourful, you're ready to enjoy seitan! You can change up the braising flavours, and like I mentioned, my favourite is the sweet and sour sauce, or ketchup one... so I will have to experiement with that!
I actually braised mine in a slow cooker and I must admit, I did over braise it such that it was a little too mushy!! So, keep an eye on it if you're doing it for the first time (unlike me!)