Seitan (or gluten, or wheat meat) is a wonderful meat alternative that actually has a dense texture like meat. It is easy to prepare and extremely inexpensive. The main ingredient is “vital wheat gluten,” which is wheat protein without the starch. You can also make this with regular wheat flour, but it requires an extra hour of rinsing the flour in cold water to remove the starch.
Here in Asia, it is common to find seitan on restaurant menus that cater to the vegetarian Buddhist population. Therefore there are seitan alternatives to popular meat dishes such as sate, bbq duck, pork, and fish so that everyone can enjoy the local fare without killing an animal.
This recipe is one of the many ways you can prepare the seitan, which I find to be the easiest. It can also be steamed or baked.
The photo shows my version of sweet and sour seitan with bok choi, though this is a recipe for seitan in its unflavoured form.
This recipe is for roughly half a kilogram of seitan.
1 cup vital wheat gluten
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (to taste)
1 tablespoon of olive or sesame oil (olive for western recipes, sesame for east Asian)
½ cup cold water, or vegetable stalk
¼ cup soy sauce
*Selection of spices depending on the dish (oregano, rosemary pepper thyme for Italian; garlic, ginger, pepper for East Asian; nori, kombu, wakame for seafood etc)
The easiest broth is simple salted water, which will leave the flavours of the seitan open for flavouring later on. However, some people may want to simmer their seitan in a vegetable stalk or miso soup base for some added flavour.
Fill a large stock pot with sated water and bring to a gentle boil. In a large mixing bowl combine the gluten, yeast and herbs and stir. Add the wet ingredients and kneed the dough until an elastic consistency.
Divide the dough into ping-pong sided portions and drop into the water. When the water boils, reduce to low heat, and simmer the dough for 45 – 60 minutes. The dough will look a little like brains (which on its own will satisfy zombie dinner guests), and it will expand as it absorbs water – this is normal.Cooking the dough for this long solidifies the seitan and gives it a dense, chewy texture.
Remove from heat and drain. The seitan can now be chopped further, marinated, grilled, fried, baked or sautéed. It will surprise you how “meaty” it feels and you may even be able to fool a non-vegetarian guest (such as aforementioned undead).