Plant meat: Wheat Edition

In accordance with popular demand (or Ashley), I am going to start sharing recipes every once in a while. Compared to the gourmet chefs that I have for a mom and a sister my cooking is very simple. However, my mother declared that no child of hers would leave the house without learning how to cook and she equipped me and my siblings with at least the very basic cooking skills.

I don't reccomend Kikkoman's soy sauce, but I was being cheap.

The first recipe I am going to share is part of a deep-rooted family tradition. My family has been part of one of the original Blue Zones for the past three generations. My Grandma turns 96 this coming Friday! A part of our secret is eating a more plant-based diet. Yet, it always good to sink your teeth into a chewy meat like substance. We’ve passed on a meat substitute that we make ourselves. We like to call it “gluten,” but may better be known as seitan. It is also known as wheat meat, gluten meat or maianjin.

Now, gluten has been around for centuries. It is said to have originated in Chinese Buddhist communities as a meat substitute. It has been documented in Chinese literature from as early as the 6th century. Throughout the years it has been baked, steamed and fried producing a variety of textures. Seventh-day Adventists were some of the first Americans to adopt this strange plant meat into their diets along with beans and tofu for alternative protein as they encourage a meat-free diet.

Gluten has even evolved even within my family. My grandmother still washes her gluten rinsing every last bit of fiber away. Once only the stretchy gluten is left, she blends a seasoning mixture and spreads over the mixture before baking it. My mother does things differently. She uses vital wheat gluten instead of flour washing the flour before boiling the gluten steaks in a broth rich in seasonings.

I always wonder if I should keep up the old traditions, but I have my own twist. I am not about spending a whole day washing gluten, so I also use vital wheat gluten like my mom. However, I bake the gluten like my grandmother. I also use my own ingredients stolen from my Grandma’s seasoning sauce which I simply put inside my gluten mixture. I got the idea to put almond meal from a family friend. I added beans after watching a Tasty recipe. I loosely follow a recipe so the outcome is different every time. I hope you enjoy.

Gluten Meat

Serves 6-8
  Flours and dry seasonings
  • 3 cups vital wheat gluten
  •  ½ cup whole wheat flour
  •   ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ instant tapioca
  • 1-3 tablespoons chicken-like seasoning
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  •  3 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Seasoning broth
  •       2 ¾ -3 ¼ cups hot water
  •        ¼ cup soy sauce
  •        ½ seasoning mixture

Seasoning mixture*
  •       ¼ cup beans
  •       ¼ an onion chopped (opt)
  •       ¼ chopped mushrooms (opt)
  •       3 cloves of garlic (opt)
  •      Stalk of celery (opt)

Mix all the flours and dry seasonings. Then, mix the seasoning mixture into the hot water and soy sauce to create a broth. Add the broth to the flours and dry seasonings. Mix all the ingredients together until they form a dough.

Press the dough into a pan. It should be fairly flat. Chill in the refrigerator overnight (or at least for 15 minutes).

The next day, preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Roll out the dough. Oil three jelly roll pans and place the gluten inside. Bake for 1 ½ or until golden brown. Ready for use in a variety of recipes.

*You can sauté the vegetables for a richer flavor.

While it’s not a labor intensive as washing gluten, it’s still a bit of work; however, it makes a great staple to throw in the freezer for a rainy day. Grandma fried it for Sabbath lunch last weekend even she thinks I really should be washing my gluten. I boiled it in a homemade tomato sauce for dinner tonight (photo above).

Grandma's fried gluten

Should I share the homemade tomato sauce?

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