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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Make Seitan: A Great Meat Substitute



Even for a non-vegetarian, learning how to make seitan at home can be a skill worth learning. For one thing, it beats having to race out and catch a chicken or butcher a steer. And for another, seitan is fairly easy to make with the right ingredients on hand, notably gluten flour or vital wheat gluten (essentially the same). It's also relatively inexpensive. [Do please, however, stay away from this food if you're gluten intolerant. Even its great taste, high protein/low-carb content, and usability won't make up for the pain.]
What Is It?
For many people, seitan is a terrific source of vegetarian protein. Pronounced "say-tawn" or "see-tawn," it's sometimes referred to as "mock chicken" in Asian restaurants. But you can add seitan to dishes in virtually every cuisine, from Italian to Vietnamese and points in between. You can grind it to make sandwich mix, make delicious wraps with it, and even dehydrate little strips for snacks. In fact, dried seitan makes a great road food or trail mix when combined with seeds, nuts, and perhaps a little dried fruit.
By simply adding this great product to your larder, you'll broaden your protein options considerably. If you can buy it locally, lucky you! If you cannot, just make it at home. This, thanks to gluten flour or vital wheat gluten (essentially the same), is fairly easy to do. In fact, you can find quite simple recipes all over the Internet; with gluten flour and some seasonings, you're pretty much ready to go whenever the mood strikes.
Securing the Gluten Flour
When making seitan, you must have gluten, as it's the principal ingredient. This flour, treated to remove both bran and starch, can sometimes be found in supermarkets. But if your local market does not or will not stock it, you can also buy gluten flour and/or vital wheat gluten from Amazon if you live in North America.
If you do not, don't be dismayed. When gluten flour isn't readily available, you can actually make your own gluten, although it's considerably less convenient than simply buying the powder and going on from there. Still, it's perfectly do-able, and you can find instructions with visuals right here.
Putting the Seitan Together
When preparing the dough, you will first mix together a group of ingredients such as these: vital wheat gluten; perhaps some nutritional yeast; garlic, herbs and other seasonings; tamari, barbeque sauce, or ketchup; and a little wine, water, and/or broth. Then you'll knead the seitan for a short while and pop it into a pot of flavorful broth and simmer until it's thoroughly cooked. Nothing to it, really! And yet it tastes so good and is so versatile. You can find simple recipes all over the Internet.
At our house, we use it as a protein in pasta recipes and also as one of the filling ingredients for our vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe. We couldn't get along without it, and you may eventually feel the same-particularly if you're vegetarian or vegan. Plus, now you actually know how to make this stuff yourself, and how cool is that?
Running out of ideas for vegetarian meals? Give yourself a seven-day break from meal planning with the menus in our Free Report. Claim yours at
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