Demystifying Mock Duck: A Culinary Adventure

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As an advocate for mock turtlenecks and mock drafts (while remaining skeptical of mocktails), mock duck has always piqued my curiosity. This enigmatic dish frequently appears on the menus of Chinese and Thai restaurants, yet I’ve hesitated to inquire about its true nature. Perhaps I was apprehensive about discovering that “fake” duck was a culinary nightmare akin to chicken in a can, something I preferred to keep out of my culinary repertoire.

However, my accidental encounter with mock duck in Thailand shattered my preconceived notions. It was a revelation that left me pondering why I had avoided it for so long. While it didn’t convincingly masquerade as duck (much like mock turtlenecks have never successfully passed as traditional turtlenecks), it possessed a distinct and delightful flavor. So, the burning question emerged: What exactly is mock duck?

If you’re here with me, you’re likely equally intrigued. Let’s embark on this culinary journey together to uncover the mysteries of mock duck.

What Is Mock Duck, Exactly?

what is mock duck made of

When you encounter mock duck on a menu, it typically refers to wheat-based gluten soaked in soy sauce, salt, MSG, and an array of spices that contribute to its duck-like flavor. The wheat-based gluten used is often referred to as seitan.

But, What Is Seitan?

Seitan, a Japanese term, denotes wheat-based gluten. While it gained popularity in the United States around 50 years ago with the rise of macrobiotic diets, it has been a staple in Southeast Asian diets since the sixth century.

Seitan is not only low in fat but also rich in protein, and its cooked texture remarkably resembles meat. Similar to tofu, it readily absorbs flavors, making it an ideal base for creating meat-like dishes in terms of flavor, texture, and protein content. In its unseasoned state, it bears a resemblance to unseasoned chicken or a thick portobello mushroom.

You can easily purchase seitan for home cooking, available in both raw and pre-flavored varieties. Interestingly, some meat substitutes that feature tofu as their primary ingredient, such as certain Tofurkey products, also contain seitan.

The Art of Making Seitan

Seitan is crafted by the labor-intensive process of repeatedly rinsing wheat dough to eliminate starch, leaving behind a sticky mass of pure protein.

Is Seitan Vegetarian?

Yes, seitan is plant-based, making it suitable for vegetarians.

Is Seitan Vegan?

Absolutely! Seitan is entirely vegan.

Is Seitan Gluten-Free?

Unfortunately, seitan is not gluten-free; it is, in fact, wheat gluten-rich.

Is Seitan Healthy?

The “healthiness” of any food is a matter of debate and can be influenced by various factors. However, here are the facts: Seitan boasts a protein content comparable to animal meat, low carbohydrate content, and minimal fat. Furthermore, you can season it to your liking. In comparison to real duck, seitan can be considered a healthy choice.

Seitan vs. Tofu and Tempeh

Seitan, tofu, and tempeh are distinct entities. Tofu is produced from condensed soy milk combined with nigari, while tempeh results from fermenting soybeans in banana leaves. They share the commonality of being used as meat substitutes, having been consumed worldwide for centuries, and possessing the ability to absorb flavors.

Should You Try Seitan?

Absolutely! Seitan has been a dietary staple in some of the world’s most culturally rich cuisines for centuries. It’s generally regarded as a healthy option, rich in protein, and highly versatile in terms of preparation. So, give it a try. Instead of attempting to mimic vegetarian duck, appreciate seitan for what it is: a protein-rich plant-based delight that stands on its own, particularly when paired with a plate of noodles.

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