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Today I made my first seitan. I mixed gluten some spices and herbs with cold water and kneaded a bit, then boiled in broth for 40 minutes; I failed to leave it undisturbed. When done, the chunks were clearly a great part water, but I threw them on a hot pan indifferently and fried them with oil and some more spices.

When I ate them, I found them a bit spongier than I would like, but overall insipid. Would following this recipe improve my results? How should I go about replacing the pot with an electric pressure cooker?

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2 Answers 2

In my experience a pressure cooker does not greatly influence the taste nor the texture of seitan.

The same recipes apply for cooking in a regular soup pot and in a pressure cooker, but here are some suggestions that might help:

Texture:

The sponginess can be reduced by making a bit dryer (less hydrated) seitan dough and kneading it a little more, which makes it more compact and chewier. Also I find that the next day (after the cooked seitan was sitting in broth) the texture tends to be a bit better.

Flavor:

If the broth is too weak (cause of diffusion) the flavor gets washed out of the seitan ... so I always make quite a strong broth (i.e. on the spacier/saltier side). Adding something like some shiitake can help add more richness and umami.


I had great success with variants on this Miyoko's recipe for "unturkey" ... at least the proportions/ratios of spices/salt/soysauce are quite good ... but then you can experiment with different spices (I like it with a bit of smokiness and heat, so I usually add some chipotle chiles).

What this recipe also suggests is:

  • adding a little bit of chickpea flour to the active gluten (1/4 cup chickpea to 4 cups of gluten), and
  • pre-baking the seitan before boiling

both also contribute to a nicer texture and crust.

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What I meant mostly with the pressure cooking is how much time should I cook it there? I know the environment is much hotter in the pressure cooker so I wonder how lesser a time should I cook it for. –  Wolter Hellmund Jan 9 at 20:54
    
If you can regulate the temperature, you could set it on a lower setting. I would either way simmer it for about 30-40 minutes - as you don't put it into boiling broth before you close the cooker it takes some time to heat up, so it probably evens it out. But I would recommend trying to pre-bake it first (like in the above linked recipe), then the texture does not change much while boiling anymore, but the seitan gets nicely succulent and picks up some of the flavors from the broth. This always works for me. –  Martin Turjak Jan 9 at 21:28
    
Thanks for your recommendations, I will try the pre-baking step! –  Wolter Hellmund Jan 11 at 22:56

Seitan that is boiled can get a kind of rubbery texture if it is cooked above a simmer, which your pressure cooker would definitely do. Seitan that is boiled also has a tendency to expand a lot, which can lead to sponginess.

A few ways to combat this are to add a little bit of another type of flour to combat the rubbery texture. Just a few tablespoons of whole wheat, garbanzo, almond, or about any flour will help. If you still boil it, it will expand, but the sponginess may not be as noticeable with a more tender texture.

To avoid the actual expansion, you can either simmer it it a lower temperature or cook it by a different method. I've had decent luck steaming seitan, but my preferred method is to braise or bake it. This leads to a denser texture, which I prefer. Keep in mind though, that since it isn't cooking in a broth (aside from the small amount for braising), you'll need to add more flavor to the dough itself.

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