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How do I remove the distinct protein flavor of vital wheat gluten when making faux meat?

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    What recipe and preparation? – user34961 Jul 30 '18 at 7:21
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    Can you please edit to add more information about your ingredients and technique? – Erica Jul 30 '18 at 21:14
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One way to avoid the vital wheat gluten taste is to develop wheat gluten directly from flour (a somewhat popular food in China). To do so, make a dough of bread flour and water, knead it well, rest 2-3 hours, then "wash" the dough in water until most of the starch has been rinsed away. The result is a high protein/water mass that I assume could be used in faux meats, that will taste highly umami (from wheat protein's glutamate), but not unpleasant like vital wheat gluten.

To wash the dough, submerge it in a bowl of water in the sink and rub it (like handwashing clothing). Change out the water until it turns clean. This process can take ~15-30 minutes and 10+ changes. It's a hassle, but the result, if done well, will have an amazing chew and flavor.

This method has a low yield. One method to increase it involves adding a small percentage of vital wheat gluten to the flour. This increases yield without really effecting flavor, though adding too much can make the dough unpleasantly tougher. Another method to increase yield may be to add salt.

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  • The process you describe (washing away the starch) is precisely how vital wheat gluten is made. I don't understand how painstakingly producing the gluten yourself is supposed to result in a different taste than a manufacturer doing the exact same thing? – NSGod Aug 10 '20 at 22:03
  • Strange, right? But the taste is totally different. Would love to someday learn the chemistry behind it. If you're interested and live in a big city, I'd recommend visiting a Chinese grocery store and taste the wheat glutens they offer. Should give you a good sense of how it differs from seitan. – George Aug 11 '20 at 23:31
  • Speculating here. This could be a rare case of efficiency not being our friend. The starch may be what keeps the unpleasant gluten taste away and we just might not be as efficient as the mass production devices. – timuçin Mar 19 at 11:31
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I doubt you can remove the flavor of the vital wheat gluten (most commonly found in the form of seitan) itself, which some describe as tasting more like meat than other meat substitutes, probably because of the protein flavor you suggest. Perhaps a better approach is to use other flavoring ingredients (onions, garlic, spices...sauces...broths...) to mask it's flavor.

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    Also, up the umami and use the flavor as path of a meaty taste - use soy sauces, smoky flavours etc... – rackandboneman Sep 29 '18 at 19:33
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I have had great success by adding balsamic vinegar. I also discovered smoking a cooked loaf at 200F for an hour also hides/removes the off flavor. To keep the loaf moist during the smoke, increase your liquid to vital wheat gluten ratio, smoke at a low temp and place a container of broth/water on the rack below the loaf. Cheers

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Many use apple cider vinegar (around 1 tablespoon) in with the with wet mix when forming the dough. I've also used sherry.

When mixed it's then best to let the dough rest to allow the gluten to develop but also allow the apple cider vinegar do its job. (It won't taste of vinegar when its cooked.)

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  • I remember my science teacher from middle school telling us that acids taste sour where bases taste bitter. I used this logic to neutralize the bitter gluten taste by using lemon juice. Not a good decision. Nobody try it. I definitely wanna try the acid base neutralization thing again. Vinegar seems like a good idea. I'll try and share my experiences. – timuçin Mar 19 at 11:36

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