What Is Faux Meat? We Dive in with Seitan And Make Wheat Starch Too
Most of the faux meat on the market is highly processed and high in sodium. The good thing is, you can make it at home.
Faux meat has grown widely in popularity from faux pork to chicken to beef. Many have reservations because of how highly processed and unhealthy these meats are.
One of those alternatives, seiitan, is a common meat substitute. Not only is it high in protein--more than tofu--but it also holds flavor better than tofu.
Developed by vegetarian Buddhist Monks, seitan has been eaten in China and Japan for centuries. I decided to see what it is by making my own.
For me, my path to seitan all started because of a rice noodle recipe that's popular in Asia. It required wheat starch. Turns out, wheat starch is not readily available, and generally not organic. However, interestingly enough, when you make seitan, wheat starch is a natural byproduct.
I set out to make wheat starch doing what most people do to make seitan. When you make a ball of dough (water and flour) and soak it in water for a minimum of two, up to 12 hours, the ball begins to break down into gluten and wheat starch (which incidentally is gluten free).
After the ball of dough has soaked in the water, you knead it into a loose and stringy blob to release the starch so that all you are left with is a ball of gluten. This gluten or 'wheat meat' can be made into a surprisingly close imitation of beef or pork.
I once visited a Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and they had an incredible selection of mock meats many made with seitan. They even had chicken drumsticks made of seitan. Crazy!
I like to try and test food for texture and flavor, so I took seitan into my own hands, literally. Watch the video for the full meal.
How to make seitan (four servings) and wheat starch
- 2 cups of organic unbleached white flour
- 3/4 cup of water
- (you can add spices like garlic powder and salt, but we wanted to make wheat starch as well as seitan, so we kept it pure)
With your flour in a bowl, mix in the water until crumbles begin to form. Use your hands to form the ball into a dough ball (if it's too sticky, add more flour). Knead the ball for a few minutes until it is smooth. Then, place the ball in a large bowl or pot and submerse in water just to cover the top.
Leave in the water for 2 to 12 hours. I left mine overnight and made the seitan in the morning.
After time is up, wash your hands well, and then start kneading the ball of dough while it is underwater. Pour off the liquid into a large clear container, and keep adding more water over the dough (you can do this under a faucet too if you don't want to collect the wheat starch), kneading and releasing the water until the water is basically clear when you are kneading the seitan.
Set your dough aside. Once the liquid has had time to settle (up to 30 minutes), pour off the brownish liquid on top down to leave the sediment or white starch at the bottom.
When all you are left with is the sediment, or wheat starch, pour that into a baking tray and let it dry out--this could take a day or two. The result is wheat starch! You can use it in noodle and dumpling recipes.
Now that you have a ball of seitan, it's time to cook it. Stretch it out and cut it into four pieces (as seen in the video).
How to cook Thai infused homemade seitan
(Killer) vegetable broth
- 4 cups of water
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 2 green onions
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon other vegetable oil (we used sunflower oil)
- 2 tablespoons of Seed Ranch Flavor Thai Green Hot Sauce (lemon grass, basil and cilantro)
- 1 tablespoon of Daddy's Gourmet Thai Dragon Fire Spice
- 1 teaspoon maple sugar from Purinton Maple
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 tablespoon wet wheat starch (freshly made and organic!)
- 2 cups of cabbage
With your water simmering in a large pot on the stove, add all of the above ingredients (shop the specialty items on Treatmo iOS App--where you can chat with your friend's about your favorites). Then, add your four pieces of seitan. Bring to a boil. Put on a lid and reduce to simmering for an hour. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 more minutes.
Thai seitan sauté
With a sauté pan or wok (even better) on medium heat, add your broth that you just cooked.
To the pan add a 3/4 cup of coconut (if it's congealed, mix the cream at the top of the can with the water beneath it), and the corn starch.
Add the seitan and cabbage and cook on medium to medium high--you want it hot to reduce the liquid quickly into a heat for 10 minutes. Add more Thai Green Hot Sauce to bump up the flavor even more!
Sides - rice and acorn squash
Serve on rice and with a vegetable like acorn squash. I cut our acorn squash in half, removed the seeds and poured on a bit of sunflower oil. Then, I wrapped the squash in aluminum foil and placed it in an oven set at 400˚ F for about 40 minutes. I served it with Purinton Maple syrup -- on treatmo! It was fantastic.
With every third of a cup of seitan, you're getting 21 g of protein. Seitan is also low in calories and carbs and low in energy density, which means it has fewer calories compared to it's serving size.
When you make faux meat like seitan at home, you control the sodium and how it's made with much more certainty. It's also really cheap to make requiring only water and flour, where you can season it however you wish.
With a little practice, it can become a great meal addition. Fresh seitan will last for up to a week in your fridge. Try it out and let us know what you think!