THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO WORSHIP SEITAN
Seitan is a great source of protein and can be a delicious part of any meal. It can easily take on different flavors and textures depending on how you prepare it. In our previous post in this series, we covered making seitan at home (it’s actually pretty easy!) and buying it pre-packaged from the store. Once you have prepared seitan in your fridge, you can turn to these fun and fresh ideas on how to sprinkle in that gluten-magic into your favorite meals.
THE WORD, THE PLANT, THE PRODUCT
Seitan originates from Japan and has been eaten for nearly 1,500 years. The word, which likely comes from the Japanese terms for vegetable and protein is pronounced “say-tan,” or sometimes as “see-tan.” Often people say “satan” by accident. That’s okay, because we love devils (have you seen our mascot?) and technically you don’t need to say seitan in order to eat and enjoy it.
Seitan is made from wheat, a plant which might first conjure up images of bread or wheatgrass shots. Seitan is special because it’s made from the natural protein found in wheat (giving it the nickname “wheat meat” or "grain meat"). This protein is known as vital wheat gluten, or just gluten for short. People who are diagnosed with Celiac disease have an autoimmune disorder that prevents them from ingesting gluten without sustaining damage to the digestive system (and this means they are unable to eat seitan). For everyone else, seitan is a good source of protein, iron, calcium, potassium, and several B vitamins, while also being low in fats and low in carbohydrates.
The process of getting the natural protein from wheat is straightforward, if a bit tedious. It’s simple enough that you can extract the pure gluten from standard all-purpose flour at home with no special equipment. Here’s a ten-minute video of a guy washing away the starch granules from regular flour to yield just the protein using just a bowl, a colander, water, and his kitchen sink.
If you’re pressed for time, don’t worry. You can just buy vital wheat gluten to make your own seitan. Bob’s Red Mill makes a wonderful Vital Wheat Gluten and your local grocery might stock it. I’ve seen the Bob’s products at most health food stores, and at the major chain groceries like Whole Foods, Wegmans, Stop & Shop, Star Market, etc.
You also have the option to buy pre-made seitan at the grocery store. It’s found in many faux meat products and is often the primary ingredient (e.g. Impossible Foods, Upton Naturals, and Field Roast use seitan as the base for many of their products). Sometimes the packaging on commercially available meat-alternatives is confusing because the product is labeled with a traditional meat name, like “sausage.” You know it’s not a sausage, but you don’t know what it is exactly, and that confusion can distract you from enjoying the food.
But now you know: seitan is the hero! Bartleby’s favorite source of natural protein, made from the friendly wheat plant, can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways with different textures and flavors. We’re keen on a savory, southern-fried version that our devils enjoy in our signature sandwiches and nuggets, but seitan works with so many dishes and cuisines. Yum!
Keep following our series and learn how to prepare seitan and make it a part of your favorite meals.
What a year, dear devils! Our wicked little hearts are bursting with happiness. We’re so grateful for the enthusiasm with which you embraced our new business. You showed us how hungry Boston is for more plant-based dining options, and you showed us what is means to be a Sauce Boss. We are so excited to move into 2019 and we’ve got lots of ideas on how to be bigger and better in the new year.
Here are our New Year’s Resolutions:
Matchstick Market in Clinton, MA is a weekly farmers and artisans market that is hosted all year long. The mission, in their own words, is "to cultivate an empowering space that is family-friendly, supportive of our local economy, and gives farms, artists and entrepreneurs a platform to positively contribute to our community." The magic Matchstick crew seeks out vendors who prioritize sustainability, environmentalism, and ethics as part of their business models, so we were honored to be a part of the scene a few weeks ago. The November 11th installation of MM was called Salvaged Salvation, and included vintage dealers, artists specializing in upcycled goods, recycled apparel, and other awesome things.
It's so well organized and curated! I recommend everyone goes. Among the group of talented vendors were Jennifer Lee's Bakery, specializing in allergen-free goodies, and The Plant Deli, serving up incredible handmade vegan meats and cheeses. My only regret about Matchstick was not being a part of more of their Sunday markets. Our one visit was on a beautiful, sunny, but wicked cold day. Lots of devils were excited to see Bartlebyâs parked out front, and most people returned to the truck to take more food to go! That warm response brought me so much joy, that it honestly didnât seem so cold out after all. I canât wait for next season at Matchstick Market, because I will be sure to dedicate many more calendar days to attend.
Thanksgiving can be a bit of a challenge. As a plant-based company, we struggle with celebrating a holiday that’s centered around the eating of a particular animal. As humans, we struggle with celebrating a holiday that highlights how cruelly the European settlers treated the indigenous peoples in this land.
Even so, we’ve got space to be thankful this holiday, and are trying to focus on the good. We love eating with our family and friends. And we’re so grateful for this amazing first year of food truck living. We’ve served thousands of seitan-based meals since we hit the road in April, and―because we provided all those cruelty-free meals―saved the lives of thousands of chickens and saved thousands of gallons of water. We got to meet so many of you kind and enthusiastic devils, and watched with delight as you lined up for piles of nuggets, mountains of sandwiches, and so many sweet potato fries. You showed us the most incredible, decadent ways to sauce up your seitan, and showed us the most incredible support for our business, even as we struggled with weather, truck troubles, and sick days.
We wouldn’t be here without you. It is a joy and honor to feed you. It still feels surreal to to wake up every morning and work towards a mission I truly believe in: saving animals, helping the environment, and making great food for all our hungry devils.
We’re thrilled to know that Bartleby’s nuggets will be gracing the Thanksgiving tables of some of you this year. And we know our day on Thursday will be spent feeling grateful for all of you who came to our big blue and orange truck over these last nine months. Thank you.