How to Make Vegetarian Chicken Substitute

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A good chicken substitute is one of the holy grails of vegan cooking. Many of the products available to purchase are of low quality, or involve a large amount of dairy or eggs. For this recipe, I am going to be focusing on using vegan ingredients to make your own chicken substitute at home! This recipe will describe how to make chicken in the form of "breasts" or patties that you might use to make a classic chicken sandwich or chicken parmesan. There are many variations possible using this core method, so experiment with it to find the right style for your needs.

Things You'll Need

  • Soybeans
  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Spices
  • Corn Starch
  • Vegetarian Chicken Flavor
  • Vegetable Oil

First you must make some okara, Japanese for "noble pulp". This bland, high-protein, mash is left over from the process of making soy milk. To do this, soak dried soybeans in plenty of water for 8 hours. Grind the soybeans in a blender or food processor with a little water.

Boil the ground soy beans in twice their volume of clean water, on high heat for 20 minutes. It will get frothy quickly. Note: if you want to the soy milk to be tastier (which doesn't effect the chicken recipe), adding more cold water and stirring when it gets very bubbly helps. when it no longer bubbles up, boil for another ten minutes.

Strain out the okara (pulp) from the soy milk, and measure the okara..

Using a ratio of three parts okara to two parts vital wheat gluten, measure your wheat gluten and place it in a separate bowl.

For every cup of wheat gluten, add two teaspoons vegetarian chicken flavor (optional), one teaspoon corn starch, half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of sugar. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.

For every cup of okara, add two teaspoons of vegetable oil. This isn't strictly necessary, but it can help the "chicken" taste richer. Mix thoroughly.

Mix the dry ingredients with the okara mixture.

It should be easy to create patties at this point, in whatever shape you desire. Try to keep them to under half an inch thick at any point. If the patties aren't holding together, add small amounts of wheat gluten until they are.

If you have a deep fryer, deep frying is easiest. Just toss the patties in the fryer until the outside turns slightly crispy. Don't let them brown or even golden if you can avoid it. If you don't have a deep fryer, pan fry them over high heat with a high smoke-point oil like canola or peanut, and set them aside when they have been made slightly crispy.

Bake the patties on a sheet at 500 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping half way through. The goal is to get them to be golden, with hints of brown and no burnt parts.

Treat them as you would any chicken patty. Apply your favorite sauce. I like them with a "buffalo" sauce, or just ketchup and maybe more salt is great.

Tips & Warnings

  • To get an unbreaded chicken breast texture, wrap the uncooked patties tightly in cheesecloth and boil for 30 minutes. Afterwards you can prepare them like you would an almost-cooked chicken breast.
  • If you don't have a deep-fryer, use a well-seasoned cast iron pot or a non-stick pan. With a high okara to gluten ratio, the patties can be quite sticky. Adding wheat gluten makes them easier to fry, but also makes them tougher and less flaky. It's a trade-off.

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