I tried the TikTok two-ingredient vegan chicken and it lived up to the hype
Where has this been all my life
TikTok has kept many of us occupied this year with its constant stream of culinary trends – we had the Dalgona coffee and the TikTok pasta that literally caused feta shortages in Finland. But the latest craze is something else entirely – a TikTok vegan chicken substitute that can be made using flour, water and absolutely nothing else. Excuse me?
This mind-blowing recipe was introduced to TikTok by @futurelettuce, who combines flour and water, then sort of, um, washes it, then pan fries the mixture, resulting in a suspiciously chicken-like end result. From there, an abundance of TikTokers have been rushing to replicate the TikTok vegan chicken dish, and I am no exception.
As someone who went vegetarian at the age of 16 in order to impress my then-boyfriend, I am no stranger to a chicken substitute. Cut me and I bleed Quorn nuggets. But as soon as I heard that I could satisfy my chicky nug craving using literally just flour and water, I had no choice but to try it out. Here are my findings.
First off, a disclaimer: although TikTok vegan chicken is popping off on TikTok right now, this recipe actually originated in 6th century China, and is more formally known as seitan. The squidgy end result is achieved by removing the starch from flour to create a big ol’ ball of gluten. If you’re gluten intolerant, you may want to look away now.
By far the easiest part of the process because half of the ingredients is a natural resource, I grabbed some plain white flour and was ready to go.
Upon the realisation that I couldn’t actually get all the information I needed from a 60-second video, I dug a little deeper in search of a recipe. Seitan Society call this the WTF (wash the flour) method, which makes it one hundred times better.
Kneading the flour
The recipe called for six cups (!) of flour, at which point I realised the biggest (only) mixing bowl I own was not going to suffice. I transferred to a saucepan and we were back in business.
Then it was time to add the water and get mixing. This was decidedly grim at first, but if TikTok has taught me anything it is to trust the process, so I persevered through the lumpiness until I got a stretchy, doughy substance.
All looking good so far, the next step was to knead the dough. I have seen enough Bake Off to know that kneading can make or break a man, but I held my nerve and it went surprisingly okay.
Let that baby rest
At this point I faced a bit of conflict because TikTok was telling me to rest the dough dry, but the Seitan Society said to submerge it in water. I took a gamble and decided to give my dough a nice, cooling bath.
This felt a bit like drowning my first-born child, but I trusted that it was for the greater good. The recipe said to leave it for anywhere between one and 10 hours, but I had a knead for speed (sorry), and decided that I could only wait in anticipation for so long.
Washing the flour
The next step was to wash the mixture to get all of the starch out. This took a good few washes, alternating between cool and warm water and removing the water when it turned opaque. As the dough became less starchy and more glutenous, it began to get tougher and more squidgy, which, based on my knowledge about the texture of chicken, was a good sign. Also, if your housemate comes into the kitchen to find you standing over the sink washing some flour, there is absolutely no valid explanation. You will have to move out.
After bathing my dough child for several washes, it eventually got nice and stretchy and resembled some kind of ocean-dwelling sponge. Delish.
Adding a little bit of ~spice~
Now came the most important step: making my ball of gluten taste at least a little bit like chicken. My research on TikTok revealed a variety of flavour combinations, but I went for my personal tried and tested method of using the flavour sachet from a packet of 30p chicken noodles (trust).
After a bit more kneading and some encouraging words, I once again left it for a well dough-served rest.
Knotting and frying
At this point my concoction was very tough and stretchy, which is apparently the gluten doing its job, but it also made the knotting process kind of difficult. After wrestling with it for a while, I was left with what looked like a kind of underdone croissant.
Still concerned as to how this was going to ever resemble chicken, but ever-optimistic, I moved onto the frying phase. Some methods advise that you slow-cook for up to two hours, but as a student lacking in both patience and a slow cooker, I opted for a 45-minute simmer on the hob.
After letting the veggie stock bath do its thing, I returned to check on my glutenous creation, and let me tell you I was absolutely shook to find that she had almost doubled in size.
The final steps
Now all that was left to do was shred that baby up and consume in whatever way I saw fit. I opted for the humble tortilla wrap.
In terms of taste factor, I would give this a solid 7/10. The texture was nice and succulent, and the overall flavour was somewhat reminiscent of chicken. My non-veggie housemate agreed that the texture was all there, although it reminded her more of kebab meat. Take from that what you will.
That said, however, the fact that this TikTok vegan chicken is literally made from flour and water blows my mind, and that’s why I think it deserves a full 10/10. I don’t think I truly believed it would work until I tried it for myself, but now I am fully converted. Would I make this again? Absolutely. I would definitely recommend following a recipe (like this one) for increased accuracy, but the method is solid. No longer will I pay for overpriced meat substitutes – just give me a few hours and a bag of flour.