Vegan Hoisin “Duck” Wraps and a Guide to Homemade Seitan
Those of you that have been missing hoisin duck wraps I have this brand new game changer recipe just for you!
Introducing a complete plant based version of the amazing hoisin duck wraps (or pancake if you like): handmade seitan “meat” marinated in a flavourful hosin sauce enriched with Chinese spice and rolled in wheat tortillas with fresh cucumber, spring onions, salad and carrots. An absolute treat and burst of flavours!
In this post I’m going to reveal how I achieve the meatier texture out of one of the most humble ingredients out there: wheat flour.
We are going to learn how to make one of the most famous vegetarian proteins, seitan, with the WTF method, which is not a swear I promise.
WTF simply means Washing The Flour. That’s literally what we are going to do to make the most beautiful seitan out there.
This is by far my preferred method to make seitan at home. It is pretty laborious and time consuming, I won’t hide it, but I personally think it’s worth the effort, for numbers of reasons apart from its taste, with the the top being definitely its cost. Making seitan this way, in fact, is way cheaper than the cost of pure gluten. All you literally need is flour.
Different flours yield different amount of the finish products. This is due to the fact that their gluten percentage varies
I’ve actually started making seitan this way when I first turned vegetarian (over a decade ago). Back then I was still living in Italy and finding wheat gluten was almost as impossible as hunting for truffles without a trained dog.
Only one shop happened to have within an acceptable distance of commute from my home, and I remember it was really, really expensive (almost 15 Euros for half a kilo, a complete rip off!).
Then I managed to find a decent priced gluten and since then I’ve been mostly using it as it’s more straight forward and less time consuming.
It was up until I found myself not liking it as much as I used to do, no matter the seasoning, the cooking method, the pulses used to improve the texture and flavours, etc, that I have realized that W wasn’t the right fit for me.
How to make seitan using the WTF method
Since then I’ve started experimenting with different cooking techniques and have discovered with huge pleasure how I was enjoying the versatility of the washed flour method. Back when I started using WTF seitan I only used to wrap it in cloth and boil in a rich vegetable broth with soy sauce and kombu seaweed.
That’s what I call the “good old method” which is no longer the one I prefer.
But how to actually make it?
Making it is simple and it can be reduced into 2 steps:
STEP 1 – THE DOUGH
All you need is to mix some plain flour, the stronger the better as it contains more gluten, with some water to form a dough. Knead the dough energetically for a few minutes (you can use a dough mixer), and allow to rest for half an hour.
STEP 2 – THE WASH
Add enough water to the flour ball to completely cover it and start kneading the dough to help releasing the starch.
Tip the starchy water off (you can actually save the starchy water to use in breads, cakes or batters), top with some fresh water and keep washing the dough until the water . This is the most laborious part, and this step will take between 10 to 15 minutes of activity. You will see that the water will gradually become less cloudy in between the washes. You’ll know when to stop when the water around your dough will be crystal clear.
You can make variations and achieve different colours and tastes by substituting all or part of the water used to form the first dough with pretty much any liquid you want. Just be warned that most of it will still be washed away, as well as the flavour, but this is still a nice method to use if you want to give your seitan some colour.
What to use:
Any coloured liquid – natural or artificial.
Some natural colour examples you can give your seitan are:
– Beetroot or Berry juices for a pink-ish finish
– Soy Sauce for a brown-ish seitan
– Spinach and green leaves following the spinach water method I used in the craquelin of these Turtle Brioche Bread Buns if you want to make green seitan (for some reasons, haha!)
– Turmeric and Curry powder for a yellow/golden seitan piece.
– Filtered Vegetable Broth – seitan will be the predominant colour of your broth.
What not to use:
On the other hand using spices and some other fancy and soluble ingredients will only result in wastage, as they will be pretty much washed away.
In fact, the only clever way to actually flavour washed seitan is to marinating it.
According to the recipe I want to create and the texture I want to achieve I use different seasoning, marinates and – most importantly – cooking techniques.
How to cook WTF seitan
After washing the seitan we need to allow it to drain for at least a couple of hours.
A couple of hours after the last wash the gluten will loosen and become really pliable and easy to work.
Now it’s time to cook the seitan according to our favourite cooking technique.
I’ll try to sum it up for you some of the ways you can cook seitan so you can have an idea on what to achieve with this versatile piece of protein:
The Steamed Method
It consists in wrapping the gluten in foil and steam for at least 45 minutes (ideally 1 hour and half). The final texture will be hard, chewy and sort of gummy. This is the best method to produce vegan deli slices, however you can also use the steamed seitan in stir fries, roasts or deep fried. You can also make a mince version of it and use as fillings for vegan lasagne or vegetables, or in ragouts and chili sin carne.
I explain this cooking method and show the two different textures in this post.
The Boiled Method
Gluten can be boiled in two ways: wrapped in cloth (normally cheese cloth or any white cloth that hasn’t be washed with chemicals) or naked.
Wrapping the gluten will prevent the protein to expand whilst absorbing the liquid, this will lead to a similar texture to the steaming method, and it finds its use in pretty much the same dishes/preparations.
On the other hand, boiling the gluten “naked”, so without any cloth will turn it into spongy and, because it will absorb plenty of liquid, it will also expand (almost doubling its size!). There are people that actually prefer this spongy texture and they would use this type of seitan for their stir fries, nuggets, ragouts, chillis, stuffings and so on.
I used this method to make this Vegan Seitan Wellington out of wheat gluten powder.
The Knotted Method
On a chopping board we need to carefully pull and stretch the seitan to an almost flatten dough (like as we are making a pizza) and with a sharp knife cut for about 3/4 of the length to have two long legs still joined with the uncut quarter, and carefully tie into knots. You can easily join the two ends together by simply pressing them against each other.
Simmer the knotted seitan into a flavourful broth or simple salted water for 1:30/2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the seitan to cool completely before using it. If you’re not using the seitan straight away you can store it in the fridge wrapped in film or in a container covered in the cooking broth. You can shred the knotted seitan to make vegan “chicken” or “turkey” shreds, vegan “duck” (with some soy sauce to the first dough) or vegan “beef” pieces (with some beetroot or tomato juice added to the first dough, I’ll explain it later on) to be used in stews or stir fries. You can also battered or coat in breadcrumbs the pieces of seitan and deep fried for chicken style nuggets or wings.
The Braided Method
This method is a variation to the knotted one. The final texture will be slightly different, to some almost imperceptive, as the plaited or braided technique will allow the seitan to expand a bit more during cooking, due to the extra space between the knots.
Once again, with a sharp knife cut for about 3/4 of the length this time to form 3 or more long legs still joined with the uncut quarter and carefully arrange into a plait. As per the previous method boil in salted water or vegetable broth for a couple of hours, allow to completely cool down in the broth, carve the seitan and use as you please.
The Oven Baked Method
Washed gluten can be alternatively oven baked. This can be done both wrapped in foil or not wrapped.
If you decide oven baked the protein wrapped you will end up with a firmer texture, leave it loose if you want a softer consistency.
Preheat the oven at around 170°C (320°F) and bake the seitan log for 90 minutes flipping it halfway. Let the baked seitan cool completely before using in the desired recipes.
The Natural Method
Finally we got to my preferred cooking technique when it comes to WTF seitan, which is actually the one that we are going to use in these wraps.
After have let the piece of gluten to drain for at least one hour and half following its wash, the protein can be also used straight away.
Small bites can be added directly into for stir fries, sautéed in oil, pan fried or deep fried.
Bigger cuts or the entire chunk can be marinated and pan or oven roasted.
However you just need to be warned that these bits will be a bit sticky, and even when cut they will tend to stick again to one another. I personally don’t mind it, I normally tend to cut them again or separated with a spatula whilst pan frying. After they are caramelized they will stop being sticky.
As well as giving a stretchy and meaty texture, this method is also the one that needs less cooking.
As you can see pretty much all methods can be used for the same recipes. It’s all down to the texture and our subjective preferences in terms of mouth feel.
I really hope this little guide will help you find the best seitan for you, now let’s talk about today’s recipe.
How to make Vegan Hoisin “Duck” Wraps
For this recipe I’ve used around 250 grams of plain water washed seitan starting with 750-800 grams of plain flour mixed with around 500ml (2 cups) of water.
As mentioned previously I used the “natural” cooking method. I’ve cut the seitan into chunks/strips (it really doesn’t matter too much as we are going to finely chop it before assembling our duck wraps), marinated into a spices enriched hosing sauce, and pan fried for a few minutes until golden brown.
I have then reduced the remaining marinade to be used to season the wraps both drizzled before rolling it or as a dip to serve these wraps with.
Finally I have finely sliced the seitan pieces and assembled the wraps.
Vegan Hoisin “Duck” Wraps Recipe
250 Homemade WTF Seitan (starting from around 800 grams of flour)
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
…for the sauce/marinade…
1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce
4 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice Mix
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
…for the wraps…
8 Small Tortillas (or Vegan Pancakes)
3-4 Spring Onions
1 Large Carrot
1/3 bunch Iceberg Salad
1/2 British Cucumber
1. Prepare the marinade by combining all the ingredients to a bowl.
2. Cut the natural seitan into bites/pieces and add it to the marinade (pieces might stick together, it doesn’t really matter as we are going to eventually chop the seitan again).
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan, add the seitan pieces drained from the marinade (do not throw the liquid away!) and sauté until caramelized on both sides. Set aside to cool.
4. In the same pan pour the rest of the marinade and reduce on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
5. Julienne cut the carrot, the spring onions and the cucumber (de-seeded) and finely slice the lettuce.
6. Finely cut or shred the seitan “duck”.
7. Assemble the wraps by adding some salad, carrots, cucumber, spring onions and seitan duck to a tortilla, drizzle some reduced hoisin sauce on top and wrap tightly.
8. Serve the homemade hoisin duck wraps with the remaining reduced sauce.
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