Seitan Bacun

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I made seitan (pronounced satan!) bacon this morning to see how easy it was. Admittedly it’s been a while (34 years) since I ate bacon but I have to say, this stuff smelt like a bacon-butty van or a greasy spoon café – but in a good way! Without the sickly death stench that comes from those places…

Meat-eaters often say ‘I couldn’t give up my bacon’ but this recipe has had great reviews from former meat-lovers who say the flavour and crispy texture work great – especially in a BLT…

My reason for trying this is that Viva! have launched a new campaign called Face Off! asking the British public to ‘Face Off’ with the UK meat industry on the shocking realities of pig farming. My brave and intrepid friend and boss Juliet Gellatley (founder and director of Viva!) took a film camera into normal British pig farms to reveal the horrors the animals are forced to endure. The film reveals the typical conditions these fun-loving, sensitive and intelligent animals are kept in, in order to produce 90 per cent of the country’s pig meat. The animals shown in the film are kept in completely legal conditions under UK Government and EU-set welfare standards. 10 million of them were killed here last year! The film includes pigs from a typical UK pig farm as well as on one that is Red Tractor approved and supplies supermarket Morrisons.

It is tough-viewing, even with more than 30 years’ experience campaigning on animal issues, Juliet finds some of what she sees hard to take. Viva! is now asking the public to join her by watching the film and see what the meat industry would rather keep hidden behind closed doors.

Is that bacon sandwich really worth all this suffering?

Seitan Bacun

Based on an original recipe from Chef Skye Michael Conroy aka the Gentle Chef.

There are quite few ingredients and several steps to this recipe but don’t be put off, it’s actually very easy to make and the results are well worth the effort. Once you’ve got all this stuff in your cupboards you can knock up some bacun whenever you fancy it…

Two batches of differently coloured dough are mixed to create the bacon.

Dry ingredients for Dough 1:IMG_8296

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Liquid ingredients for Dough 1:

  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke (available online or in fancy shops like Harvey Nichols)
  • 1 tbsp red miso paste or tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Dry ingredients for Dough 2:IMG_8321

  • ⅓ cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 tbsp gram (chick pea) flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Liquid ingredients for Dough 2:

  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Dough 1 method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients for Dough 1 in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir together the liquid ingredients for Dough 1 in a separate bowl or measuring cup until the brown sugar and miso dissolves.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and set aside.

Dough 2 method:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients for Dough 2 in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir together the liquid ingredients for Dough 2 in a separate bowl until the salt dissolves.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Divide the dough in half and set aside.

Now you begin the layering process which will create the marbling effect for the bacun:

  1. Tear off a large sheet of 18-inch wide aluminium foil and place it on your work surface.
  2. Take a piece of Dough 1 and flatten and spread the dough on the foil until it is about ¼-inch thick. Don’t worry about the shape.
  3. Next, spread ½ of Dough 2 over the dark layer of dough pushing it down with your fingers.
  4. Flatten and spread another piece of Dough 1 over the light layer.
  5. Spread the remaining portion of Dough 2 over the dark layer.
  6. Finally, flatten and spread the last piece of Dough 1 over the top.
  7. If the layers don’t stack perfectly, that’s good, because if you are too precise the bacun will look like it was made by a machine!
  8. Shape the dough into a rectangular slab about 1-inch thick. Don’t worry about being too precise.
  9. Wrap the slab of bacun in the foil creating a flat package. Fold in the sides of the foil (like wrapping a gift), pinching to seal the foil as you fold.
  10. Place the package seam side down directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 90 minutes.
  11. Cool the bacun in the foil until the package can be handled comfortably before opening.
  12. Slice the bacun thick for chewy bacun or thin for crispy bacun.
  13. The bacun can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  14. Fry the bacun slices in a skillet with a generous coating of cooking oil until lightly browned and crisp around the edges (avoid overcooking or the bacun will be dry and hard, I burnt it a little bit but it was still good).
  15. Serve hot with a fry-up or in a sandwich.
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