“wheat meat” [yuck]

We had a guest visiting Japan, a person interested in Japanese culture. After her trip to Kyoto, she returned to Tokyo and asked if I was aware the gluten was protein. My answer was “of course”, as she proceeded to explain about a Monks diet including gluten. I admittedly was surprised given Japanese are not gluten lovers. But I did find out about a food named “fu”, a wheat gluten.

After looking it up, I realized, I used to eat “wheat meat” in the 1990’s, when I had a macrobiotic chef. He used to prepare “faux ebi”, shrimp which wasn’t seafood, it was “fu” disguised as “ebi, hence “ebi no fu”. I begin to understand that “fu” is not a food I eat very often. In fact, it has been so many years, maybe twenty since I last tried it.

“Fu” is less popular among the young generation, although for vegans, it has plenty of calories, almost no fat and 28 grams of protein. So like Seitan, it’s a pretty good vegan protein. Seitan can be prepared by using whole wheat flour, and is made by rinsing away the starch in the wheat, leaving a high-protein gluten behind. Vegans adore “fu” but since it is not be suitable for those who are gluten intolerant, what’s next?

Another kind of dried fu is kurumabu, a wheel-shaped fu that are about the size of a doughnut. They are often used as “meatless steaks” and you find it at the local Japanese grocery store. Then there is Nama-fu, an important ingredient in Shoin-ryori, the Buddhist vegetarian cuisine of Japan, as this is what started our debate about gluten tonight.