If you have celiac disease, or for other reasons follow a gluten free diet, this post is not for you. Seitan is a plant-based protein made entirely from wheat gluten, water and a few seasonings, so you can stop reading now (or, better yet, share this with a friend who eats gluten – they’ll be glad you did).
I first learned about seitan a number of years ago, but I had never really eaten it too much because I mostly knew it as a commercially made product which was typically high in salt and rather rubbery in texture. Not exactly the kind of food you feel inspired to pursue.
Last year I took a plant-based cooking class, and my world view on seitan went through a major transformation as I learned that it is extremely easy to make tasty seitan at home. I now incorporate it frequently into vegetarian dishes when I’m looking for an alternate protein source from the usual tofu, beans, quinoa or cheese.
Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten, which you can buy at most health food stores. You mix it with some water and a few seasonings, knead it briefly, form it into small patties, and then cook it in broth for about an hour until it is done. That’s it. The whole procedure takes only about 10-15 minutes of “active” production time.
To use seitan, you can slice it and sauté it with a little broth or oil, add it to a soup or stew, flavor it to use in a curry, or add it to split pea soup as an alternative to the traditional ham.
Seitan as a protein source
An ounce of seitan provides approximately 7 grams of protein, or slightly more than the amount of protein you would find in a large egg. Yet, unlike the egg, seitan is a plant-based protein source and therefore contains no cholesterol.
Seitan (makes approximately 1 pound)
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
1. Mix vital wheat gluten, water soy sauce and garlic powder until a stiff dough is formed.
2. Wearing gloves, knead the dough 10-15 times until well-mixed (do not use a mixer).
3. Allow dough to “rest” for 10-15 minutes.
4. Break dough ball into 3 pieces and flatten them into ½” thick discs. The dough is quite rubbery and you will have to work it a bit to stretch it and flatten it into patties.
5. Place the vegetable broth and water in a large pot and heat until boiling.
6. Add the seitan patties, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately one hour until patties are firm. They will absorb some of the cooking liquid as they cook, so you might need to add additional water.
7. Store covered in the refrigerator or freeze until you are ready to use.
Nutrition information per ounce: 35 calories; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 70 mg sodium; 2 gram carbohydrate; 0 grams dietary fiber; 7 grams protein (values are approximate).