Picture: Instagram.
Picture: Instagram.

LOOK: Fake chicken made from washed dough is TikTok’s latest viral food sensation

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Mar 5, 2021

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If the videos of people mixing flour and water together to form a perfect ball of dough only to rinse it under a stream of tap water until it becomes a stringy mass have confused you – you’re not alone.

What you’re actually seeing in those videos is the process for making seitan, a protein-rich vegan meat substitute made from gluten, the main protein of wheat.

Dredged in seasoning and bread crumbs before frying it until golden or searing it on both sides with fresh herbs, the fact that seitan looks so much like chicken has the internet in astonishment, with more and more people hopping on the trend to make it at home.

A Chinese agricultural encyclopaedia holds the first known records of wheat gluten being used in cuisine. As early as the 6th century, noodles were prepared from wheat gluten by the Chinese as a substitute for meat, especially among Buddhist monks.

In modern times, it can be mass produced, packaged and bought at local or speciality supermarkets. But, as TikTok users have proven, it can also easily be prepared at home with just two main ingredients.

So, how does dough magically transform from pale, soft and bouncy to being worthy of a spot atop a toasted sesame seed bun laden with crisp lettuce and home-made chipotle mayo?

The process is actually quite simple. When the dough is kneaded, gluten is developed; this gives seitan its unique, chewy texture. The more the dough is worked into itself, the more gluten strands are developed, resulting in a dough that is very elastic. As the dough is rinsed under cool water, the excess starch begins to leave it and you’ll be left with a mass of string dough.

However, not all recipes call for this step – some only require that you add the dough to boiling water where those starches will inevitably be released as well.

For added flavour, the dough is simmered in a seasoned broth. Veggie stock, sprigs of herbs, salt, pepper and cloves of garlic can be added to the pot. Afterwards, drain, let cool and use as instructed in recipes.

Marinated, skewered and grilled over an open flame, shredded and mixed into noodle soup or seared on each side in a pan with olive oil, herbs and spices – there are so many exciting ways to cook with seitan.

Watch: How to make home-made seitan

Ingredients

2 cups wheat gluten

1 tsp ground onion

1 tsp ground garlic

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and mix together.

Add 2 cups of water and form a dough.

Knead the ingredients together for about 6 minutes.

Place in a pot to simmer for 30 minutes with vegetable stock.

Remove, let cool and cook as you would any other meat – beautifully.

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