Seitan, colloquially known as wheat meat, and more simply as wheat gluten, is one of the wonders of the vegan and vegetarian world. It’s similarity in texture to meat and high protein content makes it a popular substitute in meat centric meals and it is used as the central ingredient in numerous alternative products, probably most famously in Tofurky. Like tofu, it absorbs flavour tremendously well, making it additionally versatile, but it is also high in iron, and low in fat.
Seitan is traditionally made from washing the starch from wheat flour. It’s a fairly labour intensive process. Fortunately there are more convenient methods to get the end product. Packaged seitan tends to be oddly expensive, considering that the wheat gluten flour that is used to make it is relatively inexpensive. But if you don’t care about the extra money and would rather save yourself about an hour, you can buy premade seitan and skip to the second part of the recipe. An additional note though: The store bought stuff never tastes as the homemade seitan.
There are hundreds of seitan based recipes out there if you wish to delve more deeply into cooking with this tremendously adaptable food. There is also a cookbook by Barbara Jacobs called Cooking with Seitan, The Complete Vegetarian “Wheat-Meat” Cookbook. I have not read it, but it might be worth checking out: http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Seitan-Complete-Vegetarian-Wheat-Meat/dp/0757003044. I took this particular recipes from the 1st vegan cookbook I ever bought, which remains one of my favorites, Robin Robertson’s 1000 Vegan Recipes. You can buy it on amazon and highly recommend you do: http://www.amazon.com/000-Vegan-Recipes/dp/0470085029
Ingredients for Seitan
¾ cups wheat gluten flour
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
For the simmering liquid:
1 2/3 cup of water
2 quarts of water
½ cup soy sauce
- This works best in a food processor. Combine all the ingredients and blend until it forms a sticky dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surfaced until the gluten is holding together smoothly.
- Combine the ingredients for the simmering liquid and bring to a boil.
- Divide the dough up into sections. If you put the entire dough in the liquid as is, it tends to break apart more easily, and you end up with small and much less chunks. Reduce the liquid to medium-high heat. Cover
Ingredients for Seitan with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 pound seitan, cut into strips
Oil Packed Sun Dried Tomatoes
¼ crushed red pepper (I usually omit this)
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the seitan, season with salt and black pepper. Cook until brown and lightly crispy on each side. Another great thing about seitan is that when you cook it, it will still stay super moist on the inside
- Add the garlic, and cook until softened. Then add the Kalamata olives, capers, spinach, and oil packed tomatoes. The oil will add a huge flavour wallop to the seitan. I’d advise that you add ingredients according to personal preference and to taste. I don’t like to add too many olives, and go heavier on the capers and tomatoes. Cook until the flavours have mixed.
- Rice and pasta both make excellent accompaniment to this dish.