Seitan or wheat gluten is the original meat alternative. Developed by ancient Chinese monks, it is gluten which happens to be high in protein that is extracted from washing flour. Now how did this idea even enter these Buddhist monks' minds, I have no idea. It must have been a divine inspiration from the universe! And I was going to have a whole lot of fun cooking with the divine inspiration that is seitan.
The whole lot of fun took place at Natural Gourmet Institute, last Monday night. Had signed up for The Amazing Seitan Workshop with Peter Berley months ago, and after an interminable wait, was excited to learn with my two best buddies, JK & Leinana from Vegan Good Things . Let the kneading begin!
I had assumed that the class would be more focused on different seitan recipes, rather than actual making seitan from scratch since I had heard how hard & tedious it was. I'm used to easy peasy vital wheat gluten from a box. Hmm, boy was I wrong! Lo and behold, we entered class & giant bowls of flour greeted us. Yep, we were going to make seitan from scratch. We were going to extract that gluten ourselves.
After incorporating water and forming a dough bowl, we had to really work the dough by hand- this was a serious workout. Lots of jokes abound about how seitan making could be a gym class.After working the dough forever by hand to full incorporate the flour & water, we let it rest and then began the process of washing the dough ball in alternate hot/cold water baths, kneading & washing to extract the actual protein. This took about seven washes of five minutes each, til the dough became stringy and soft. What's interesting is that in a Chinese household, I grew up with seitan- in Chinese it actually translates to Flour Muscle/Tendon. Pretty gross looking- the strand look like muscle for sure, yuck. There it was the extracted protein, ready to be cooked. We placed it into the oven to cook in broth.
What really makes a class of course is the teacher! Peter Berley is an amazing instructor. He taught and entertained us and cooked at the same time, quite the feat!
The class split into teams to make the recipes. Leinana & I chose to make Pan-Seared Seitan Steak with Chimichurri.
Since the seitan took sometime to actually cook, we didn't have the proper time to fully marinate it. So after Leinana risked her limbs to sear the partially marinated seitan on an extremely high flame, we covered it with more sauce.
Not the most beautiful dish, but it was easily my favorite dish and us making it notwithstanding- the chimichurri was really just divine & come on, pan searing is so good!
And other favorite dish of the evening was the Eggplant & Seitan Falafel, made by JK & her partner. The flavors & texture was simply delicious!
There were Gluten Puffs with Sweet & Sour Sauce- also tasty, because who doesn't love a deep-fried, light seitan ball?
The Seitan Wrapped Burdock, Leek & Carrot Roll was interesting- the marinade for the burdock was quite tasty,but the texture of the seitan was a little strange for me.
Here's a savory seitan cutlet:
And a Seitan roulade stuffed with veggies:
Braised Chickpea Stew with Seitan Chorizo & Fennel:
Savory Seitan-Stuffed Summer Squash Provencal- might not look so pretty, but was so flavorful and yum!
Love how everyone takes pics before diving into the food- at this point we were all hungry since it was almost 10pm, but come on, priorities people- pictures first!
Look at my cute BFF, JK:
And look at Leinana & I & Peter Berley & our smothered chimichurri seitan! It's a love fest- pure & simple. Am now a serious Peter Berley fan and have just ordered, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. Can't wait!
All our collective hard work on a plate:
It was nice to enjoy the delicious fruits of our labor. Am definitely looking forward to another Peter Berley class - tofu making perhaps? Now, am going to be making seitan from scratch on a regular basis? Hell no!! Way too labor intensive when vital wheat gluten seitan taste just as good. But I will certainly be making it for special occasions for sure!