Monday, September 3, 2012

Everyday Seitan

One of the most common questions people who are vegan get is, "Where do you get your protein?" Beyond the fact that pretty much everything has protein, vegetables included (1/4 cup of almonds and 1 cup of peas both have about 7 grams), there are plenty of foods with tons of protein- like seitan. Seitan in it's purest form is actually just wheat gluten (the protein in wheat) and water, so it definitely packs a protein punch. You can actually make it yourself by kneading regular wheat flour, letting the proteins form, and then rinsing off the starch. A fun afternoon project, but it is much easier to just buy vital wheat gluten and go from there, though.

Also handy to have around when baking bread!

In its "impure" forms, you can add fun things like beans and nutritional yeast, which actually add their own sources of protein and offer a change in texture.

The most traditional way to prepare it is to simmer it. Despite my many efforts to do so, I just don't like the texture achieved- much too spongy for my tastes. Other options are wrapping the dough in foil and baking it or steaming it, which I much prefer.

I have based my standard recipe off of this one. It was especially handy the first time I decided to go this route, as the video really helped me to gauge if my dough was the right wetness. From there I have just made my own tweaks :) When I'm just making a standard recipe, I usually just use garlic, paprika, onion flakes, and pepper. This is what I use for sandwiches and the flavor easily works in things like pasta or tacos or "chicken fried" seitan. If I'm making something more exciting- let's say pepperoni, gyros, Indian, et c. I will keep everything but the spices the same.

I usually shape these into sausage shapes, but it works just as well in a patty shape. We always do that shape when we want to make the "chicken fried" seitan, or I used it when I made a layered seitan and stuffing dish for Thanksgiving.

You can see I sliced the patties in half height ways.
For every day purposes, though, I am very happy with the sausage shape. To prepare the seitan, I mix up the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.

And then I pour in the wet ingredients I've mixed together.

Then I portion it out onto foil in heaping 1/2 cup increments.

Then I form it into sort of a sausage shape.

And then roll it up!

There are different ways to deal with it from here- pretty much you can bake it or steam it. I have a slight preference for steaming it.

My bamboo steamer, on the list of awesome gifts from my MIL.
All ready to go!

Then when it's done you can take it out...

and slice it up!

It goes great in wraps :)

Once prepared, seitan freezes beautifully and keeps quite well in the refrigerator for a week or so. It bakes, sautes, fries, and grills beautifully. It holds up in sauces and soups and works great as a main dish. A wonderfully versatile item.

One thing to note in my recipe is I have "squished beans" listed as an ingredient. I tend to use okara (soybean pulp), because I have it left over from making soy milk, but I have successfully used chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, and probably some others.  If you're going to put the whole beans straight into the blender, I use about 1/2 cup. Now the recipe!

2 1/4 C vital wheat gluten

1/2 C nutritional yeast

1/3 squished beans

2 C vegetable broth or water

2 t Better than Bouillon (if using water)

2 T tahini

2 T soy sauce

2 T paprika

4 T onion flakes

1 t garlic powder

1 t black pepper

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Blend wet ingredients with blender or immersion blender. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Rip off a sheet of aluminum foil about 6 inches wide. Using a half cup measuring cup, scoop heaping cups full of dough onto foil and form into log shape. Roll up the logs in the foil and twist the ends. There will be 5 to 6 sausages. Place sausages in a steamer and steam for 40 minutes. Remove immediately or allow to cool in the steamer for 1 hour. Store still wrapped in the foil in the refrigerator.

Guten Appetit!


  1. Will try this next weekend. Thank you for this!

  2. Have a question please? Is the tahini absolutely necessary or can something else be substituted? Finding it difficult to find tahini where I am...