Friday, February 22, 2008

About seitan

Today I made my first batch of seitan.  It's a vegetarian/vegan meat substitute, and I've been really excited to try it.  I only recently learned about it, and while it sounds somewhat vile, it was also intriguing.  I did a flickr search for pictures of prepared seitan, and couldn't believe how delicious and meat-like it looked.  So I gathered up my ingredients (thank you, thank you, thank you, Whole Foods!), and set to work.

It turned out beautifully!  And it was so much easier than I anticipated.  I did have to allow a whole hour for it to simmer, but the active prep time was less than 10 minutes, and you can't beat that.

I had planned to use this in a seitan pot pie this evening, but decided to put that off due to the difficult afternoon I had today. From what I've read online, however, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week, so I'll just make it on Monday instead.

This recipe has the bonus benefit of the broth left over once the seitan is cooked.  It smelled and tasted so delicious that I ended up using it to make a veg version of chicken noodle soup.  I had to dilute it with water because the broth was so salty, but that's cool because I ended up with twice as much soup!  I tossed in some 1-inch broken pieces of spaghetti, half of a shredded carrot, and some tiny bits of seitan.  Delicious!  Meg sucked it down, and Brad and I really enjoyed it, as well.

Seitan is also practically free to prepare.  The whole batch of it cost me maybe a couple dollars, AND I got 4 to 6 servings of soup out of the deal.  You can't beat that, especially with how astonishingly expensive meat is these days.  Add to that the shocking news story about the treatment of slaughterhouse cattle, and seitan just plain makes sense.

I had really expected our monthly grocery expenses to skyrocket here in the U.S., versus what we had been paying at the commissary in Japan, but I've been pleasantly surprised.  Buying generic, shopping for produce at the local farmers' produce stand in town, and eliminating meat has brought our grocery budget down to LESS than what we were spending in Japan.  Nice!

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