Seitan is a super versatile vegan protein made from vital wheat gluten. This is what is used to make vegan chicken, aka fake chicken, and that main image doesn’t look like chicken?
If you’re vegan, or maybe even if you’re not but have checked out Viral Cooking Tiktoks, you’ve probably heard of seitan. Nowadays many people call it fake chicken because it is made of flour.
However, although it is made from wheat, it has nothing to do with bread. When cooked, it looks and acts like meat! It is high in protein, making it the perfect alternative to vegan meat. Like meat, seitan can be prepared in many ways: boiled, baked, fried, grilled, sliced, crumbled, or grated. Just like tofu, it can take on SO MANY flavors and is extremely versatile.
What is seitan?
Seitan is wheat gluten. These are basically foods made with gluten, the protein found in wheat. The commonly used name, seitan, is Japanese (セイタン), which implies that it was invented in Japan, but wheat gluten first appeared in China in the sixth century.
It is an incredibly popular ingredient in Asian and Southeast Asian countries as a vegan alternative to meat due to its chewy, meat-like texture.
You can buy it at health food stores or Whole Foods, but even better, it’s so easy to make at home! You can prepare it in two ways: either using whole wheat flour and washing it, or using vital wheat gluten.
how to make seitan
- Make the dough: Mix 1 cup of Vital Wheat Gluten with 1/4 cup of chickpea flour. Add some seasonings and add 1 cup of water or vegetable broth.
- Knead the dough: Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes so that it develops gluten strands; this is what gives seitan its meaty texture. The more you love, the fluffier it will be. On the contrary, the less you knead, the more tender it is, so adjust as you like. I like to use a stand mixer.
- Let stand: Let the dough rest, covered, for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Simmer: Cut the dough into 4 pieces (or more), shape it and simmer in a flavorful broth.
- Use it in recipes: Your seitan is cooked and ready to eat! You can eat it as is or use it in recipes where you would use meat.
All you need is vital wheat gluten and water.
Where does this come from?
Seitan was first invented as an alternative to meat for Chinese Buddhist monks, since one of the key tenets of Buddhism is strict vegetarianism. There are a lot of Chinese vegetarian dishes that look like regular Chinese food, but are made with seitan. Today it is popular all over the world for vegans and vegetarians.
How is seitan used?
Seitan is used as most meat products and meat substitutes. You can use it wherever meat is used! It can be shredded and shredded, sliced, and made into sausages or nuggets. Anything meat can do, it can do too.
What does seitan taste like?
The seitan by itself doesn’t have much flavor, it’s very bland, a bit savory, and a bit bland. It’s more a question of texture than taste. Textually, it is ultra meaty and can take on any flavor. You can season the meat to taste, but most people use it as a blank slate that can then be seasoned when cooking in recipes.
What is seitan made of?
Seitan is made from wheat gluten, the protein found in wheat.
The easy way to make seitan
The key to making seitan at home is the vital wheat gluten! It used to be a difficult thing to make, but now that the vital wheat gluten is widely available, it’s the easiest meat alternative you can make at home.
What is Vital Wheat Gluten?
Vital wheat gluten is the extracted form of protein found in wheat. This is what makes the bread bouncy, fluffy and elastic. When you isolate the gluten protein in wheat, you get vital wheat gluten which, when mixed with water and slightly kneaded, has a dense meat-like texture.
Optional: Adding a bit of another type of flour gives it a smoother texture. Using only gluten can result in a final product that is a bit tougher than some people want. That’s why when you look at the ingredients on a commercial package of this product, you’ll often see soy protein. You can use any alternative flour you like, I like chickpea or soy flour. If you don’t have garbanzo bean flour but do have dried garbanzo beans, you can make garbanzo bean flour at home by using a blender or food processor to grind the dried garbanzo beans until smooth, fine, and powdery.
Flour Washed Seitan aka Seitan Tiktok
Washed flour seitan is what’s going viral on Tiktok and while it really works, it’s a LOT more work than using vital wheat gluten. It can take hours.
That is how:
- Mix 3 parts flour with 1 part water and knead. Place the ball of dough in a bowl of cold water. Wash the dough by kneading and stretching it.
- throw wateradd new water and continue washing, discarding and adding new water, until the water becomes more or less cloudy and your dough is stringy.
- let the dough rest in a colander for 20 minutes, then shape and cook just like seitan made with vital wheat gluten.
how to cook seitan
Just like meat, there are many ways to cook seitan. I like to cook it on low heat so that the flavor of the broth permeates and flavors the interior. My favorite way to finish it is to break it into pieces and then return it to the pan after it has simmered.
Steam: Steaming creates a fluffy rise that has bubbles and the lightness of gluten. It is denser than slow-cooked seitan and less juicy, good for searing or sautéing. Steaming is also a bit faster than simmering.
Slow Cooking: Slow cooking gives you a fluffy rise and lots of gluten lightness. It also has the added benefit of adding flavor to the seitan, as it can season your broth. When simmering, be careful not to let it boil or it will swell too much and lose the meaty texture you are looking for.
Frying: Frying gives you golden puffs that are airy and have a soft texture when you cook it again. Image below.
where to buy it
If you’re wondering where the seitan is in the supermarket, it’s in the fridge section! You will find it next to the tofu. Sometimes you may need to go to the local Asian grocery store where it will also be in the frozen section.
How to store
Store wrapped, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
It is healthy?
It is an excellent source of lean protein and an excellent substitute for meat. It is low in saturated fat and carbohydrates. That said, if you’re gluten sensitive or celiac, it’s best to eat tofu as seitan is made from vital wheat gluten.
I hope this answers some of your seitan questions and inspires you to try making some at home! If you’re looking for meat alternatives other than tofu, this is a great option.
recipes with seitan
I can’t believe it’s not meat!
- 6 cups broth choice, eg vegetables
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 carrots coarsely chopped
- 1 very celery coarsely chopped
- 1/3 taxes soy sauce
In a large bowl, combine vital wheat gluten, garbanzo bean flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
Add water or vegetable broth and mix until you get a paste. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. The more you knead, the meatier your seitan will be. If you’re looking for seitan that you can shred, knead longer. If you want a softer seitan, knead less time. Cover and let the seitan rest for 5 minutes.
While the seitan is resting, bring the vegetable broth, onion, carrot, celery, and soy sauce to a boil in a very large saucepan, then reduce the heat to low so that it just barely simmers.
Cut the dough into at least 4 large pieces and shape them. You can also cut or stretch the dough into small strips or pieces.Optional: Shape and wrap the seitan in foil before simmering. This will give it a denser, meatier texture because the seitan won’t have as much room to expand.
Add the seitan to the barely simmering broth and cook uncovered for 1 hour, making sure it does not come to a boil.
Once the hour has elapsed, remove from the heat and let cool. Use immediately or store in broth for future use. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze.
Note: some photos show sweet and sour seitan. Do:
1 pound seitan, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion chopped
Mix the seitan with 1 tablespoon cornstarch to coat evenly.
Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the seitan until golden and crisp over medium-high heat. Remove from the pan and let rest on a wire rack.
Make the sweet and sour sauce: Mix the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water. Whisk together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and soy sauce.
Add the sauce to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it bubbles, lower the heat and add the vegetables. Cook to desired doneness then remove from heat (keep vegetables near raw).
Add the cooked seitan to the sauce and stir until well coated. Enjoy!
Amount per proportion
Calories from fat 10
% Daily value*
Saturated fat 0.1g1%
Cholesterol 0.01 milligrams0%
The carbohydrates 11.8g4%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.