Braised Gluten w/ Mushrooms
A Protein-Rich Vegetarian Delight
Servings: 6-8 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 2 hrs
Slow-braised, seasoned gluten is high in protein and infused with flavor. This is a 100% vegan recipe right down to the aged mushroom "oyster" sauce. Gluten has long been a staple in the Asian vegetarian's diet, enjoyed by devout Buddhist vegetarians for centuries. Ounce for ounce, wheat gluten can contain just as much protein as beef, chicken, pork, or tofu (another vegetarian favorite with origins from the East).
Also known as mock duck, wheat meat, jai or seitan, gluten has great mouthfeel and is neutral-tasting, taking on the flavor of its braising liquid. Here, it is a complex stock infused with dried shiitake mushrooms (deep earthy flavor), dried radish strips (robust and almost bovine in flavor), sweet yellow onion, aged vegetarian mushroom "oyster" sauce and premium Chinese light soy sauce. Cooked over slow low heat, all the flavors meld to wonderfully flavor this meat substitute. Add fresh shiitake mushrooms, soybean peas and scallions at the end and you've got a delicious vegetarian delight.
For this recipe, seek out an Asian market for dried gluten rolls. In the San Fancisco Bay Area, head over to your local 99 Ranch Market for various forms of gluten (dried, fried, puffed and more). Of all the forms of gluten we tried, we really liked dried gluten, but it is rock hard in its dried state (which helps to extend its shelf life). That's why we'll need to slow cook it to give it time to fully rehydrate. It's worth the time and effort because we feel that dried gluten has a superior dense springy texture once it's brought back to life. And as mentioned, it has a great shelf life. It can be stored in its dried state refrigerated for up to a year.
Our braised gluten with mushrooms is a fantastic protein-rich main dish for vegetarians and vegans or a flavorful side dish for everyone else. But obviously, it's not intended for those who need to be on a gluten-free diet. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and it'll keep for a week. For our photos, we also boiled green baby bok choy for 3 minutes, drained them and arranged them on a platter with braised gluten in the middle. The sauce from the gluten will help flavor the baby bok choy.