What in the World Is Seitan

15 November, 2013

Super heavy in protein, this popular choice for vegetarians is shockingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked. Seitan (pronounced say-tahn) is made of gluten, the key protein of wheat, by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch melts. This leaves insoluble gluten that really must be cooked before it should be eaten.

It’s essentially very possible to make seitan at home, though it’s time consuming. By mixing flour and water you form dough, this dough is then kneaded and rinsed under running water for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. The gluten then must be simmered in broth for one to two hours before it can be served. The shortcut to this naturally is to buy already separated wheat gluten rather than beginning from flour.

Seitan is a low sodium and very low fat protein. It has around ten mg of sodium, 0 grams of fat and seven and a half grams of protein in merely an oz.. Protein smart, it is calorie for calorie higher in protein than either tofu or tempeh.

The drawback of seitan, is that a large amount of the time it is processed and extremely high in sodium. Also , any person with celiac illness, or a gluten allergy needs to stay away.

Below is a recipe I found for Buffalo Seitan (vegan buffalo wings). Done properly this may be a good break for the seitan-virgin.

Buffalo Seitan with Vegan Ranch Dip

To make the seitan:

1/2 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten

1/2 Cup water

Combine these together in a bowl. It will get too thick to utilize a spoon, so dig in with your hands. Kneed for five minutes and put aside.


2 Cups of water

1 Cup vegan chick’n broth (sold in natural foods stores for a ton of cash, or in a powder form in several Asian markets for inexpensive)

1 tsp each: thyme, dried parsley, rosemary, oregano, onion powder

1 bay leaf

garlic powder to taste

ground pepper to taste

In an enormous frying pan, bring the broth ingredients to the boil, and lower the heat. Pinch off tiny pieces of the gluten (smaller than bite sized) and drop into the broth. Cover the pan, and boil. It is important to make sure that the broth does not come to the boil, so you’ll have to keep a close watch. Boiling seitan makes it hard and chewy, which might be wonderful for some things, although not these. You will cook these for about 50 minutes, stirring once every ten minutes or so while the broth reduced. If by the end of 50 minutes it looks like bite sized pieces of brain floating in your broth, you’ve done well. Take off heat, but leave in the broth until ready to use. You can even set this in the refrigerator at that point if you are not ready to turn them into spicy chunks of deliciousness.

Buffalo-ing them:

Heat cooker to 350 F

2 Tbs Vegan margarine (similar to Earth Balance)

2 Tbs Hot Sauce or Sriracha

Melt the above together in a small saucepan. Take away the seitan from the broth, and cover with the margarine mix. Spread the coated seitan bites out on a cookie sheet, and cook for ten minutes. Put them on a bowl or serving platter, and add any extra margarine mix over the seitan; toss to coat. Serve alongside Vegan Ranch Dip, directions follow.

Vegan Ranch Dip

1/2 cup Vegenaise

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 lemon, zested and juiced

salt, pepper and garlic powder* to taste

Add all ingredients to a little bowl and stir. If lemon is especially big or juicy, either consider yourself fortunate or add the juice slowly until you gain the consistency you would like. Less juice = more dip-like, more juice = more salad dressing-like.

*Powdered garlic works far better than raw minced garlic here. If you should happen to feel up to it, 2 roasted mashed garlic cloves work better.

(Recipe from pickyvegan.com).

Cathy Roosa is a vegan, and is a contributing writer to several websites.

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