Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin


Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin

Once you have your wheat gluten washed you tear it into small pieces and either boil, steam or deep fry it.  I think you can also bake it but I haven’t tried that personally.  Steaming creates a nice fluffy rise and good aeration of the gluten.  Boiling also creates rise and seems to provide more of a squeak when you chew.  Boiling and steaming both will make something you can use for Kao Fu, that wonderfully aromatic oh so yummy Shanghainese vegetarian dish.  (See Grandma’s Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu recipe here.)  Deep frying the wheat gluten creates Oil Fried Mian Jin, little golden puffs which have a much airier texture and a smooth tender texture when cooked again.  The top photo of this post is the Kao Fu made after we boiled the wheat gluten.

Ingredients

3.5 cups all purpose flour, 454g
1 1/8 cup lukewarm water

Directions:

Mix flour and water together in bowl.  Stir and knead until a rough mass of dough comes together.   Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rest for 10 mins.  Knead 10 times and then cover and rest dough for another 10 mins.  Knead dough again, it should be quite smooth and elastic this time.  Now cover and let rest for 1 hour.
Place bowl in sink and fill to cover dough with room temp water.  Knead and squish the dough in the water in the bowl until the water turns milky white.  Dump water out and refill with fresh water.  Repeat until the water no longer turns milky white but is only slightly cloudy.  The mass left in your bowl, the wheat gluten, will be a tan color with a springy elastic texture and should clump together in one lump.  If you want at this point to keep the washed main jin for another day, submerge in cool water and keep in the fridge, changing the water everyday. 
For the next stage of making wheat gluten main jin you can either boil, steam or deep fry it. Each method produces different to slightly different results in texture.
Boiled Mian Jin, also known as Kao Fu, and is dense but springy with lots of small holes that absorb flavor and juice.  To boil, heat a pot of water.  Tear and twist apart the wheat gluten mian jin into approx 24 pieces, placing each piece onto a plate without touching.  Take one mian jin in your fingers, stretch it and drop immediately into the water.  Boil for 5-6 mins or until floating on top of water.  Remove, drain and the wheat gluten mian jin is ready for braising or stir frying.  
Steamed Mian Jin, often also known as Kao Fu, and is dense but springy with lots of small holes that absorb flavor and juice.  It seems to be slightly more springy in texture than the boiled gluten.  To steam, place the whole washed mian jin on a plate in the steamer and steam for 20 mins.  Do not open the steamer lid but allow to cool down for 45 mins before opening the lid.  Take out and slice into cubes or slices as you prefer and it’s ready for braising or stir frying.
Oil Fried Mian Jin is really different in texture, soft, tender and slippery while still absorbent of flavors and juices.  To deep fry, tear and twist off the mian jin into approx 24 small pieces, carefully squeezing all the water out and placing each piece on to a plate without touching.  Deep fry until it puffs up to a ball and turns a golden brown color.  Remove to drain on paper towels and it’s ready for use in braised dishes or stir fries.  Note that the Oil Fried Mian Jin will deflate when cooked again.
Once you have boiled, steamed or oil fried the mian jin, you can keep in air tight container in the fridge for a few days before using.

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