Thursday, March 10, 2011
How To Make Seitan: An Illustrated Guide
Now if you really wanted to be a Level 5 hardcore vegan (or just don't have access to vital wheat gluten/gluten flour) you would make seitan using the flour + rinsing method. This involves rinsing wheat flour until all the starch dissolves and you're left with only the gluten part of the flour, but really, who has that much time? I certainly don't and while I'll probably try it once just for curiosities sake and to see if it tastes different, the more common (and much easier) method below works just fine and has tasted great for all of my seitan needs.
Anyway! A friend asked me to do a post about how to make seitan, so here it is! Saying as most peoples' reactions to any mention of seitan is "sei-what?!" it seems like a pretty good idea. For the uninformed, seitan is a fake meat made from the protein part (gluten) of wheat flour. The first time I ever made seitan was probably in the form of the infamous chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon. Pretty sure I made that recipe every week for a long time, nommm.
As pictured above, all you really need is some vital wheat gluten and your veg broth and seasonings of choice. You need to simmer it for an hour, but it literally just needs to sit there during that time, so you can do whatever else you want while it simmers. Vital wheat gluten usually comes in a bag that looks like this and can be found in most natural food stores or ordered online:
In my case above are a saucepan full of veg broth with a soy sauce, garlic powder, olive oil and nutritional yeast. I use the "Simple Seitan" recipe from Veganomicon, but you can pick a recipe easily by just Googling "how to make seitan" are trying to use slightly different ingredients out of your cupboard. I've included the recipe off the PPK's website, which is only different because it adds lemon juice and has a slightly different broth mixture, but it's by the same author. Use what works for you! I've made a ton of varieties that include everything from tomato paste to vegan Worcestershire sauce, go crazy!
from the PPK website
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (minced fine or use garlic powder)
For the simmering broth:
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
The first thing you want to do is prepare your broth and pour it in a big saucepan. What I do next is mix the wet and dry ingredients separately as shown, taking 1/2 cup of my saucepan broth for the wet ingredients mix:
Then you pour the wet into the dry and stir, at first it will look clumpy like this:
But after a while, it'll look more like this, and then you start with the kneading.
Knead for about 3 minutes by hand. I do this part on the kitchen counter. This allows the gluten strands to form, which creates the texture of the seitan. After you've kneaded, break the seitan into 3 pieces, like so:
Then knead each piece by hand to flatten it out a bit and make it bigger. It should be pretty elastic, so it will tend to just spring back to it's original position, but eventually you'll get something like this:
Take your three pieces and put them in your veggie broth. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer on the lowest setting for an hour. You want to make sure to catch the seitan AS SOON AS it boils, or else you'll end up with a yucky rubbery mess. Nothing to stress over, just make sure you watch the mixture and lower the temp to a simmer as soon as it starts to boil. Happy seitan simmering away...
It will puff up and get bigger and start to look like this. Don't worry, that's normal.
After the hour, turn off the heat and let everything sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes. Then drain and let sit in the colander until it's hot enough to touch. You'll want to reserve the liquid for storage purposes, so pour most of it into a container first before draining. The drained seitan will look as so:
The finished product...and a cross section!
It might not look pretty, but think of it as a vessel for many culinary possibilities! If you don't use all the seitan right away, put it into a container and cover it with the leftover broth. It should keep in the fridge for a week, though I've definitely kept mine in there for 10 days with no problem. Seitan ready for storage and extra reserved broth:
If my broth tastes good (this time I used some vegan chicken broth powder I made myself = yes), you can save it and use it for soups!
Now what to do with your wheat meat?! I often fry mine up with some olive oil and Italian seasonings. You can put it on top of pizza or spaghetti like this. In fact, I literally just ate some of this very batch as such!
However, my favorite creation with seitan thus far as been BBQ seitan, which I put on top of nachos with Daiya vegan cheddar! Sooooooooooo effing good! I even finagled my own BBQ sauce, which was really easy and came out orgasmically! But that's for another post...
Some recipes I've used or would like to use involving vital wheat gluten:
- Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon
- Seitan Chops Smothered in Apples and Ginger from the PPK
- Homemade Sausages from Vegan Dad
- Veggie Lunch Meat from Vegan Dad
- Yummiest Seitan Ever! (Baked)
What's your favorite recipe for seitan and how do you use it?