What is it?
Seitan is a meat substitute. It is made from wheat gluten (the protein portion of wheat) and is therefore high in protein and low in fat. Seitan has been a staple food among vegetarian monks of China, Russian wheat farmers, and the people of Southeast Asia.
Gluten can be flavored in a variety of ways. When simmered in a traditional broth of soy sauce or tamari, ginger, garlic, and kombu (seaweed), it is called seitan, although all flavored gluten may be referred to as seitan. Seitan stands in for meat in many recipes and works so well that a number of vegetarians avoid it because the texture is too “meaty”.
Where will you find Seitan?
In commercially available mixes; Arrowhead Mills’ Seitan Quick Mix, Knox Mountain products, which include Wheat Balls, Chicken Wheat, and Not-So-Sausage and Worthington canned products.
Commercially prepared seitan is also produced. You will find it in tubs or vacuum packs soaking in marinade in either the refrigerator or the freezer section. There are ready-to-eat forms on the market such as burgers, sausage-style and chicken-style, lunch-style meats, fajita strips, and “not-dogs.”
Seitan is also easy to make. Its versatility lies in the myriad forms it assumes during the cooking process. Simmering is a very effective and efficient preparation method. But it can be oven-braised, baked, cooked in a pressure cooker, or deep-fried. Each version yields a different texture. Oven braising produces a texture similar to the chewy texture derived from simmering. Baking produces a light texture that works well when grinding or grating seitan. Pressure cooking will produce a softer-textured seitan. Fried gluten turns soft and slippery when cooked with a sauce and absorbs flavor well.
Seitan is not a suitable meat substitute for those with Celiac Disease or gluten/wheat intolerance or sensitivities.