Part 2: The Art of Making Seitan from Scratch

Part 2: The Art of Making Seitan from Scratch

Seitan is versatile, nutrient-dense, and packed with protein.  There are a ton of different ways to prepare it, and because of that you can add a protein-rich element into any recipe you are making in place of meat. It’s made from a flour called Vital Wheat gluten - which is the protein strands separated & isolated from regular flour. Because of this, seitan gets the fun nickname “wheat meat.” Vital Wheat Gluten flour can be found in many grocery stores in the specialty flour section. Bob’s Red Mill is the most common brand found in stores, but you can also order it online. This is the main ingredient for any seitan recipe. Most seitan recipes mimic bread recipes and you will create a dough of wet & dry ingredients. When looking at seitan recipes there are several tips & tricks I use to ensure my seitan will turn out the way intended.

  • Flour mix: Often recipes will mix the Vital Wheat Gluten flour with other types of flour to break up the gluten strands. This will determine how chewy and dense your seitan will be. 100% Vital Wheat Gluten flour will be the most dense & chewy. 
  • Spice mix: Your spices should mirror how you want the seitan to be flavored. You can be creative here by mixing in chopped onion, peppers, or sun-dried tomatoes. I often put the same spices in my seitan that I would any meat item for that same dish.
  • Wet mix: Common options are a mixture of veggie broth, tahini mixture, liquid smoke, or tomato paste. The additions to your wet mix will break down the tough gluten strands and add extra flavor.
  • Kneading time: Once you mix the wet mix with your flour & spices, you will create a dough. The longer you knead the dough the more the gluten strands will form which will create a chewy texture. If you knead the dough too much, the texture will become too dense and rubbery. A good test is if the dough has no dry spots. Somer recipes will have you fold the dough, or even knot it, depending on the texture you want at the end.
  • Resting time: Giving the dough time to rest allows the gluten strands to form. This will also create a chewy texture without becoming too dense.
  • Marinade - Help add extra flavor. I typically look up a marinade recipe for a meat and use it for seitan instead.

    There are two popular cooking methods for seitan: steaming or simmering. Steaming is an awesome way of making sausage or deli meats. Seitan dough tightly wrapped in aluminum foil (or cheesecloth) and placed in a steamer basket to cook for 45-60 min. Simmering is the most common cooking method and often uses broth to add more flavor to the seitan as it simmers. If you let the water boil, the seitan will come out too rubbery and overcooked.

    Here are a few seitan recipes for you to try:

      I hope you can experiment and have fun making seitan at home! 

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