Gloria’s Gluten Choplets (or "Steaks")

Breaded and fried "choplets" (homemade seitan chops) have been a favorite main dish for our vegetarian family for over 40 years! Although sometimes seitan (pronounced "SAY-TAN") is sometimes called "wheat meat," we don’t think of choplets as replacing meat, but as uniquely delicious in their own right. We particularly enjoy them breaded and fried (see Notes). They can also be chopped or ground, cubed, or cut into thin strips and used to replace meat in many recipes.

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Ingredients

Gluten Dough

  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced or dried chopped onions
  • 2 1/4 cups instant gluten flour (see Note)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup soy flour
  • 1 (1.1-ounce) packet Rich Brown G. Washington Seasoning
  • 2 to 2 1/4 cups water (enough to make a stiff dough)

Simmering Broth

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 package favorite brand vegetarian brown gravy mix
  • 2 tablespoons Marmite or Vegemite (yeast extract spread)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

To make the Gluten Dough

  1. Combine the wheat germ, oatmeal and onion flakes in a blender, then cover and blend into a fine powder. Transfer the powder to a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in instant gluten flour, whole wheat and soy flours, soy flour, G. Washington seasoning, and garlic powder. (Optional finely chopped nuts, nutritional yeast flakes and/or instant tapioca are also added in this step, if using.)
  3. Quickly stir enough water to form a stiff dough. Knead dough gently with the back of a spoon for about 1 minute.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a roll about 1 1/2-inch in diameter. (If making "steaks," form dough into a single roll, 2 to 3 inches in diameter – remembering that the pieces of gluten will be significantly larger when boiled.) Cover the rolls, then let stand for about 30 minutes.

To make the Simmering Broth

  1. Measure the oil into a large stockpot, then saute the prepared onions and celery until tender.
  2. Add the water, then stir in the brown gravy mix, Marmite or Vegenite, garlic powder and salt. (Broth should be salty!) Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until ready to boil the choplets.

To boil the choplets

  1. Return the broth to a boil.
  2. Slice the gluten rolls into thin slices (approximately 3/8-inch thick). Don’t be concerned about the smallness of the pieces, they will magically GROW when boiled!
  3. Spray the palms of your hands with no-stick cooking spray; flatten each slice between palms, then carefully slip it into the boiling broth.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low, then simmer the choplets for 1 hour.

Notes

Gluten choplets require several ingredients which may be unfamiliar to some: Vital Wheat Gluten, Rich Brown G. Washington Seasoning and Marmite or Vegemite which can be found in some larger supermarkets, whole and health food stores and online at retailers such as Amazon. In a pinch, G. Washington seasoning and Marmite or Vegemite can be replaced with vegetarian beef-style seasonings such as McKay’s, Better Than Bouillon base etc., Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce.

The recipe is very versatile. Just remember that the base formula for the gluten dough is approximately one part vital wheat gluten and one part wet ingredients. Have fun experimenting! For starters, other possible additions to the dough are 1/4 cup ground nuts (walnuts or pecans), 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes which will boost nutrition and/or 2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca which alters the texture somewhat, making the choplets more porous. Seasonings for both the dough and the simmering broth can also be adjusted to taste.

  • Vital wheat gluten, sometimes labeled as instant gluten flour, is available in many stores and online. (Do not confuse it with gluten flour, which has a much lower gluten content and will not work in this recipe).
  • After simmering the choplets in the flavorful broth, the remaining broth can be thickened and used as gravy.
  • To bread and fry choplets, dredge each choplet in flour, then dip first in beaten egg (or vegan mayonnaise thinned with a little water), then in a breading mixture made of equal parts dry brown gravy mix, whole wheat flour and nutritional yeast. Fry on both sides in vegetable oil until browned.

Recipe by LuAnn Bermeo, author of Amazing Meals I and II, a two-volume collection of family-approved, plant-based recipes; based on ideas from my mother Effie R. and friends Gloria A. and Jeannette F.