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Vegan Fried Calamari | Washed Flour Seitan with Starch Water Batter

Yields1 Serving

Perfectly crispy with just the right amount of chew, this vegan fried calamari is made with washed flour seitan that is cooked in the flavors of the sea. The leftover starch water makes an excellent base for the batter, too!

 900 g bread flour (approximately 6 heavy cups), thoroughly washedIf using all purpose flour, add another 140g/1 cup
 630 ml water (2 2/3 cups)You may not need all of this, but if using AP flour you may need a little more.
 1 tsp salt
 Optional but recommended: About 4 Nori sheets to wrap the cooked seitan for more fishy flavor
 8 cups water
 ¼ cup Kombu flakes10g
 ¼ cup Wakame flakes10g
 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
 10 dried Shiitake mushroom caps20g
 1 tbsp salt
 1 tbsp lemon juice
Wheat Starch Batter
 1 ½ cups flour
 1 ½ tsp paprika
 1 tsp salt
 ½ tsp baking powder
 ½ tsp black pepper
 ½ tsp cayenne
 Optional: A couple sprinkles of oregano and/or dried parsley
 ½ cup leftover starch water, excess water drained off and stirred
 ½ cup plant milk
 1 tsp lemon juice
 grape seed and/or canola oil as needed
Flour Washing

Start by adding about 2 cups of water and mix it into your flour. If it's not forming into a dough, add a little more. It's easier to wash if it's a little bit sticky as opposed to dry and crumbly, but too much water can make it fall apart when washing. Make sure the water is fully incorporated. You can either knead it into a ball or simply let it rest in the bowl like this for 15 minutes. Then cover it with cool water and let it rest again for about an hour.


Wash that flour! If you're new to flour-washing, check out this step-by-step tutorial here. For this I washed almost thoroughly until the water was just a little hazy. Calamari is chewy and the goal is to recreate that texture by washing out most of the starch.


Once washed, drain your ball of gluten for about 20-30 minutes and give it a good wringing out to remove excess water. Then, either knead in the salt by hand, cut it in with kitchen scissors or knife, or use a food processor. Let it rest again at this point for another 20-30 minutes, or until the gluten is strong and you are able to stretch it far without breaking. While it's resting, add all of the broth ingredients into a slow cooker and start getting it heated up.

NOTE: If you don't have a slow cooker you can use a pot, just make sure the temperature doesn't get too hot while simmering. If you have a thermometer, the goal is to keep the broth at about 190F. This will be barely bubbling, and will ensure that the seitan does not get spongey as it cooks.


Stretch the gluten into a long, even mass, and cut it lengthwise in half. Then cut each half lengthwise again 2 more times, so you have 6 even strips. Hold the two sections of tube together in one hand, and starting at the top, insert the top of the gluten strip between the two tubes. Squeezing them together to hold the gluten in place, wrap it around the tubes, overlapping each time by about a third or halfway, stretching it out as you go. Once you have them all wrapped, let them rest again for another 20 minutes to give the gluten a chance to stick to itself and become more uniform. I squeezed the gluten onto the tubes after wrapping as well to help even it out and make sure there were no gaps. If you have any excess, you can make a new strip and wrap another set of tubes, or roll it into thin strings between your hands to make "tentacles."


Place the wrapped tubes in the hot broth and let them cook like this for about an hour, checking on them to make sure they're not sticking together and to ensure that the broth isn't too hot. You may notice some air bubbles forming in the seitan because of the tubes. This should not affect the texture, just pop them to make sure it cooks evenly.

NOTE: My slow cooker only took about an hour since I wrapped the gluten pretty thinly around the tubes. Some slow cookers may take longer and that can also vary depending on the thickness of your wrap. The gluten should feel firm when it is done, but as long as it isn't bubbling too hot, it can go longer without any problems.


Keeping the seitan in the broth, let it come to room temperature. Remove the tubes and rest in the fridge overnight in the broth. It will continue to firm up as it cools, as well as continue to absorb more fishy flavor. Once rested, pull the seitan out of the broth and drain off excess liquid on a cutting board. If using the nori sheets, each seitan roll should take about 1/2 of a sheet cut in half lengthwise. I rolled one up, then cut the excess, then rolled the next. If not using Nori, give the seitan an extra pat to dry off before battering.


In one bowl, whisk together all of the dry batter ingredients. In another, mix together the wet. Cut the calamari into 3/4-1" rings and dredge in the dry, then the wet, then back to the dry. Heat 3-4 inches of oil in a small cooking pot to around 350F. Test the temperature dropping in one calamari ring. If it bubbles up a lot and begins to float, it's ready. Working in batches, cook the calamari in the hot oil until golden brown, then drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve with a spicy marinara or your favorite sauce, some lemon wedges and parsley for garnish, if desired.

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