What is it? Seitan (pronounced say-tahn) is a meat-substitute made from wheat gluten. Sometimes known as “wheat meat,” its most popular in Asian and macrobiotic cuisines. It’s also quite easy to make at home, and freezes well.
What’s it like? Depending on how it’s made, seitan can range from tough and chewy to light and spongy. The flavor depends on what you cook else you cook it with and what else is added to it as it’s made.
Why eat it? It’s an alternative to soy-based meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh. It’s high in lean protein. And it takes on other flavors well.
How to make it: Start with wheat gluten (aka vital wheat gluten, vital wheat flour); I’ve always used the Bob’s Red Mill variety. Mix one cup of the wheat gluten with ¾ cup water, and knead. Put it aside and let dry for 20-30 minutes.
The broth is where you can get creative; what you put in the broth will largely determine the seitan’s final flavor. To start, combine 3 cups water and 3 cups vegetable broth. The rest is up to you—I like to throw in soy sauce, Bragg’s liquid aminos, peppercorns, a couple of whole garlic cloves, chili powder and whatever herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano) I have on hand.
Bring the broth to a boil. While you’re doing this, pull or roll the seitan dough into logs.
Once the broth is boiling, cut or tear off portions of the dough—much like you would with dumplings—and toss into the broth. Let simmer for 60-90 minutes.
Drain the dough from the broth.
To use immediately: Slice into smaller pieces if necessary, and pan sear in olive oil until the outside is slightly crispy.
To store: Store in remaining sauce to allow it to soak up extra flavor. It’ll keep in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a few months.
To serve: I like to keep it simple—a little olive-oil seared seitan + brown rice + onions and mushrooms. But it can be used in so many ways. Goes best as a substitute for beef, and works especially well in stir-frys.