I try to do most of cooking from scratch. This means that most of my protein comes from beans and pulses which I either soak overnight and boil the hell out of or simply open from a tin. When you’re in a rush there are some great products on the market that can you can wack in the oven from the freezer. Some vegans call these transitioning foods to help new vegans before their ready to cook from scratch all the time. But I think their great every once in a while and as with a non-vegan diet you shouldn’t have too many processed food. I love Fry’s as their whole range is vegan so I don’t have to check individual labels. I especially like their pies and schnitzels. Linda McCartney is great supermarket staple but not all the products are vegan so you have to watch out. But it is always good to have some emergency sausages in the freezer! Quorn who have been begged to go vegan for years (their usual recipe contains egg white) have started to bring out a few products which are vegan-friendly and have a lovely big green stripe on the pack saying so. I bought their spicy burgers in Asda yesterday and will let you know what I think when I try them.
One other meat substitute I love is seitan. Seitan has been used in China primarily by Buddhists since the 6th century. It is made by separating the gluten from the starch in flour by washing out the starch. This is something you can do if you are inclined to and I have a seitan cookbook which includes recipes for the starch water, however the easier way is to buy the gluten in the form of vital wheat gluten. This is available in health food shops or online.
I love to make a batch of setian and then use it in different ways, be it cutlets, strips, marinated or in breaded nuggets. I use a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz but there are plenty you can find online.
You start by making a dough and needing it. It’s very spongy and not like any other dough I’ve made.
You then form it into a long sausage and cut into equal pieces.
Then it is ready to be boiled in a broth. The pieces will soak up a lot of the liquid during boiling and increase in size.
Once you’ve waited for the broth to cool down completely (this improves the texture) you can take out the pieces and slice.
I usually store the seitan in steak like slices and then can chop smaller when I know what I’m going to do with it.
Then you just need to store the pieces in the cold broth until you’re ready to use and you can freeze it like this.
My Mum and her partner are going veggie for January so I’m going to give her half of my batch to use.
The vital wheat gluten is also great to use in other recipes if you haven’t got the time to make a whole batch of seitan. I have recipes to use it making your own sausages and bean burgers as well as one for a high protein bread.
Watch out for my weekly round up to see how I used my seitan!