Views Editor Ciara McAlinden recounts her brave attempt at a Tiktok recipe for seitan.
Before I begin, I need to clarify that I am no professional in the kitchen; I’ve set spaghetti on fire, put chocolate sauce in a casserole, and overcooked approximately everything that I’ve sat on a hob. I have a plethora of stories I could tell about my cooking catastrophes, but my most recent one struck my heart with more panic than anything I have ever done before.
At the beginning of the year, my TikTok feed was filled with various "easy" vegan recipes to try out – I attempted vodka pasta and it was a hit with my flat! "Let’s keep this up," I thought to myself, "I’ll make something new every week this year for my friends to try". This lasted exactly one week.
After my successful pasta night, I decided to try and make seitan, which looked delicious in every TikTok I had seen (and ridiculously cheap). The key ingredients included flour, water, and anything you would ordinarily season chicken with. Basically, the recipe required me to mix flour and water, leave it to settle, and then wash out the gluten until my little floury blob produced no residual white water. The original recipe was intended to feed two people, so this had to be doubled for the party of four whose bellies I wanted to fill.
To make a long story short, my cooking was a shit-show. There’s a reason that the recipe was only intended for two people, because any more than that and the chef may experience flour-induced crying and anxiety. The mixing and sitting proved to be successful, but no one on TikTok tells you how hard it is to wash flour. After twenty minutes of trying to wash this gelatinous mound without dropping it down the plughole, the water was still running white. By this point, everyone in the flat had entered the kitchen to try and help me, but all of us were overwhelmed by the Ghostbusters monster that was trying to take over our kitchen. My laughing turned to tears, and the tears didn’t even wash off any of the fucking gluten.
We gave up. The water was still white, but my God we could spend no more time washing the bitch. Into the pot it went to steam, with all the herbs and spices I had set out before my spirit was killed by wet flour. According to TikTok, the texture should closely resemble chicken, to the point that it’s difficult to tell the difference, but alas, I had just spent two and a half hours making some kind of messed up soggy paprika-bread. After my friends’ encouraging remarks about how tasty it was, we all refused a second serving.
I wish that I could provide a moral to this story, or a lesson we can all learn, but I think the only thing we can take from this is to never let me in a kitchen unless it’s to make toast. Even then, keep an eye on me.
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