Definition of seitan

What is Seitan?

Seitan: A chewy, protein-rich food made from wheat gluten and used as a meat substitute.

While the name itself is relatively new, coined in 1961 Japan by George Ohsawa, seitan itself in one form or another has been around for over a thousand years. Its first documented use was in China in the 6th century, as an ingredient for noodles. The Western hemisphere was a bit slower to catch on, with the first record not appearing until the 18th century. How very unlucky for them.

What is Seitan?

Seitan is a vegan protein source, made from wheat gluten. Traditionally, it would be made by washing wheat flour dough until all the starches have been removed. This would leave a stretchy, stringy mass of proteins, that more resemble meat than soybean based protein sources. The resulting mass, once cooked, becomes eerily meat-like in texture.

How is seitan made?

There are many different ways to make seitan, and many more ways to then use that seitan further in other recipes. There is no one method that is better than any other, only ones that fit individual tastes better or worse. And no recipe fit my taste. Now, at this point I could’ve just kept looking, searching high and low for something I had no idea when I would find. But I’m lazy, and that seemed daunting.

My recipe for Seitan

So I made my own. To start out, I bought a bag of vital wheat gluten and started messing around with it. I mixed it with just plain water and the result was this super rubbery substance, with very little give and not much taste – not good eating. Eager to learn, I decided to start experimenting.

I started mixing in garlic powder and onion with the gluten, applying water in different ways – just general experimentation. During this period, I learned a lot about the properties of wheat gluten. This went on for a while, and led to some delicious, if time consuming, delicacies.

But as I’ve said before – I’m lazy. So now that my experimenting had led me to a better understanding of the properties of wheat gluten, I decided to start from the ground up.

My recipes have been built around maintaining a macronutrient ratio similar to that of raw meat – nature got it right once, why not again? The protein is sourced from the wheat gluten, while the saturated fats are sourced from the coconut oil and the unsaturated fats from the canola oil. The liquid aminos supply lysine, which is absent from many vegan diets, and the nut milk helps balance out the recipe.

I’m not saying that my recipes cover the board and are all you ever need to eat ever again. But I do firmly believe in my recipes.