My favourite way to use gluten or seitan is to fry them in oil till they puff up and golden. Then they can be stuffed and/or braised. Fried gluten has a lovely nutty flavour, chewy and spongy. If you have eaten fried tofu puff, fried gluten is similar to fried tofu puff in texture and taste.
Here is how to fry the gluten.
First cut a lump of raw gluten into pieces. For the recipe below I used about 280g. Divide the pieces into 3 batches.
Next put in about 1" deep of oil in a wok or frying pan. Heat the oil for about 1 minute at medium heat till medium hot.
Why the oil must not be very hot? There are 2 reasons;
- if the oil is very hot, soon as you put the gluten in, the hot oil will spit because of the water content in gluten.
- if the oil is too hot, the gluten will shrink and brown too quickly and will not puff very big
Drop in one batch of gluten pieces one by one.
Remain heating the oil at medium - medium low heat, as long as the pieces sizzle evenly it's fine (see picture above). Keep turning the pieces, you will see them puffing up to 2X - 3X.
Once they puff up, you can then increase the heat a bit more. Fry them till golden then remove.
When you fry the second or third batch, the oil at the beginning should be very hot. Turn heat off first then drop in the pieces, when the gluten pieces stop sizzling rapidly then turn the heat back up to medium - medium low and continue as before.
Here is a plateful of puff balls from just a handful of raw gluten. They are crunchy and hollow.
How to use fried gluten puff balls?
You can stuff them with anything you like, with a veggie stuffing of chopped mushrooms (any type), bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, potato, carrot etc.... If you are meat eater can stuff with ground pork mix with shitake and water chestnuts, or add in some mince prawns is also very nice. If you have some fish paste this is also great as stuffing. Once stuffed they can be steamed or braised.
Other uses of gluten puff balls are to soften them then add to soups and any stir fries
Normally I like to soften these balls with boiling water, when the balls are softened then pour off the hot water and refresh with tap cold water. Squeeze the pieces to release excess oil, remove the water. Here is the result, they are soft, chewy and smell wonderfully nutty.
This is one recipe I like, is to braise these puff balls with mushroom with a chilli bean and black bean sauce.
Recipe - Braised fried gluten balls with mushrooms
Fry about 280 - 300g of raw gluten as instruction above. Then soak, soften and remove excess oil.
Take about 300 - 350g of common white mushrooms or chestnut (brown) mushrooms, cut into thick slices or bite size.
Chop about 2 -3 cloves garlic. Also chop a small piece of ginger.
Clean and slice about 3 - 4 stalks of spring onion or scallion.
Rinse and roughly chop about 1.5 tbsp fermented black beans (dousi)
Have about 1.5 - 2 tbsp chilli bean sauce (douban jiang) ready. I like to use Pixian. You can sub chilli bean sauce with yellow bean sauce with a little minced chilli.
Other ingredients include some cooking oil, dash of cooking wine, a little sugar, vegetarian oyster sauce or light soy (optional), little sesame oil, about 1 tsp of cornflour dissolve with a little water, and finally some water for braising.
- Heat few tbsp of oil in the wok. Add garlic and ginger, stir till fragrant.
- Add in the chilli bean sauce and black beans. Continue stirring for a while.
- Then add in the gluten and mushroom. Stir fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add in cooking wine, stir then add in about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of water. Let this braise for about 10 minutes till hot and bubbly.
- Taste for saltiness, if not enough can add some vegetarian oyster sauce or soy sauce and some sugar to taste. Thicken with slackened cornflour.
- Finally add in the spring onion and dash of sesame oil.
Will post more ways to use gluten and recipes later.