A few months after I first quit eating meat, I was lunching on a purchased vegetarian pocket sandwich when I bit into something I thought was pork. I suspiciously picked it up between my fingers and started shredding it with my other hand. It had little bubbles in it; no meat has bubbles. I gingerly tasted it again. It was like bread, but meaty. I read the ingredients on my sandwich package and deduced that wheat gluten was involved somehow, but exactly how was a mystery. It was quite a while before I found out that I had been eating seitan.
Seitan is a great ingredient to create vegetarian versions of traditional meaty dishes. It’s almost pure protein, but not very nutritious otherwise, so if I’m using it as a meat replacement, I usually use half seitan and half vegetables. Seitan is so filling, though, that a pound of it will serve six.
I used to be able to buy seitan at a couple of stores near me, but it’s gotten hard to find. No matter, it’s easy to make at home, and I like the flavor of my own better. I have a no-knead technique that I learned from a bread cookbook which works great with a handheld or stand mixer. Or, you can be all old-school and knead it by hand.
This recipe is a combination of two others, Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Soy and Seitan Turkey and Seitan O’Greatness from the Post Punk Kitchen forums.
Perfectly Easy Seitan
2-1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
½ cup chickpea flour (besan)
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
3 tablespoons vegetarian chicken broth powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon thyme
salt to taste*
1-3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I use the double concentrated kind from a tube)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like Braggs for this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 325.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, briefly beat together wet ingredients with an electric mixer. Add about 1/3 of the dry mixture (about a cup) and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Set a timer and don’t cheat! Add another cup of the dry mixture and beat on low for another 2 full minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend in with a spoon. If necessary, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until dry ingredients are just combined.
Divide dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 6 or 7 inches long. Wrap each log tightly in aluminum foil, twisting the ends to seal.
Bake for 90 minutes.
Makes 2 pounds of seitan, about 12 servings.
*How much salt you need depends on how salty the broth powder you use is. If I use Frontier Foods broth powder, I’ll add about 3/4 teaspoon. If I use Massel Chicken-style or Better Than Bouillon, I don’t use any additional salt. To taste for salt, first pinch off a small bit of seitan dough, stretch it as thinly as you can, and fry it in a non-stick pan briefly.
My seitan is all beautiful and ready for its closeup.