Help Me Start Cooking With Seitan

I am, as always, looking for new and interesting things to eat that I’m not allergic to. As it happens, wheat is NOT a problem for me (yay!). I’ve been researching a little bit about seitan, or wheat gluten. Before I actually venture into experimentation, though, I thought I’d ask my fellow Dopers.

My plan (subject to change, as always) is to buy wheat gluten. While the thought of starting with wheat flour and making my own is intriguing, I have a life outside the kitchen and this just doesn’t look cost-effective time wise. So… I will start with gluten. My understanding is that you work this into a type of dough (no problem - I’ve been baking bread for years and years).

OK - what next?

I wish to emphasize that I am NOT attempting to artificially replicate beef or chicken here. I’ll probably wind up cooking it in a beef or chicken or mushroom stock, but really, I’m trying to determine how to cook it into a basic ingrediant to add to other things. I’ve seen instructions for boiling it in stock (that would be easy, for making a stew or soup, for instance) but I’m not sure of the resulting texture. I’ve heard of “leavening” it (actually, adding baking powder so it’s not leavened but still gets a risen texture) to make something sponge-like or biscuit like in texture. Can you bake it?

I suspect I’ll start with either adding it to soups/stews or stir frying it. Ideally, I’d like it cubed (or likewise bite size) in a form that I can easily store (probably in the freezer) and add to stuff later, along with flavoring.

And tips/suggestions/ideas/warnings/voice of experience?

Broomstick, seeing as how no one has yet replied, I will mention this link for seitan scallopine with lemon-olive sauce has a recipe, some storage hints, and other stuff that you might find interesting.

Sorry, I know it’s not much.

" Help Me Start Cooking With Satan"? - Oh nevermind.

Well, yes, I was waiting for that to show up.

Can’t wait until I tell my husband we’re having “satan” for dinner…

Oldest joke in the macrobiotic world. :rolleyes:

I’ve never tried making my own, although it’s definitely on my bucket list. Here’s one thing I’ve been told though, and in my limited experience using gluten as a binder for veggieburgers, it appears to be quite true: always use the same brand of gluten, and measure the water exactly. The reason for this is that if you don’t use exactly the right amount of water, it will fall apart. This appears to be true for too little water, as well as too much water—they both produce the same effect. Different brands of gluten have different levels of preferred hydration, so once you’re familiar with one brand’s properties, you should stick with it. Having said that, here’s a recipe for Seitan Bulgogi from somebody I’ve known online for several years, and who has never steered me wrong. I’ve made a bunch of his Indian recipes, and they’ve all come out stellar.

I made a seitan roast for Thanksgiving (both Canadian and American) this year, and it turned out really well. I also make seitan sausages regularly. Both the roast and the sausages were steamed (and the roast was, you guessed it, roasted) rather than the more traditional simmering in broth method. I find steaming them really easy, and a lot less intimidating than the simmering method.

One of my favourite online resources is VeganDad. Every recipe I’ve tried of his has been fabulous, and the seitan recipes, in particular, have been really tasty. The roast I made came from his site, although I used a different dressing.

I would also recommend Veganomicon. It contains some really great seitan info and recipes, and may even be available at your local library.

There are many ways of making seitan, all with varied procedures and cooking methods. I found a simple recipe that’s easy to make, not too time consuming and tasty.

**Basic Seitan **

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup water

The ratio is 1:1 so it’s easy to make as much or as less as you need.

In a medium bowl mix water and wheat gluten until it becomes elastic. Knead for 5 minutes (I never knead that long) and set aside. I usually pound/flatten it out into a 1 - 1/2" patty. Keeping your hands and surfaces wet will help the elasticized gluten not stick to everything.

Then you add it to a flavor broth that has been brought to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for about an hour until the broth has reduced. Make sure NOT to let the simmer reach a boil. The seitan will puff up as it simmers, boiling speeds this process along and produces a stretched, too chewy seitan.

Faux Chicken Flavoring

You mentioned you were going to use chicken or beef broth, but I’ll add this here as well.

2 cups water
1/4 nutritional yeast (I no longer add this as I don’t like the taste)
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed

Bring all ingredients to boil in a large saucepan. Seitan can be cut into chunks, strips, patties and added carefully to the broth. Follow the directions above for reducing the broth.

Once this is done you can eat the seitan as is, bake it, fry it, sautee it etc… I usually make a big batch of chunks and store them in the fridge in what’s left of the broth.

Yeah, what’s with all these recipes that add “nutritional yeast”? Is that really necessary? It seems not, according to constant reader

I personally love the taste of nutritional yeast. It adds a certain savoury flavour that I enjoy, almost a cheesiness. I think it contributes a necessary hit of umami, and it has B vitamins, as well. That being said, the flavour of nutritional yeast can really vary from brand to brand. I just bought a container that was extremely bitter, so you have to be careful. RedStar is the brand I’ve found most consistent.

I see you’ve already been informed about your typo.

Just keep the fire hot. There’s no such thing as overdone. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, OK, it can taste good and all that, but I guess I was wondering if it was really necessary or not. I just don’t have a lot of money to go and buy a lot of new ingredients.

Actually, I’m sort of wondering about the price of this stuff - I’ve seen quite a range. If it’s more expensive than meat then I’ll have to put off trying it for awhile.

Nah, I don’t think it’s necessary, especially if it’s expensive in your area. I think vegans add it to boost the nutritional value, as well as add to the flavour, but I’ve had recipes without it that tasted fine. If you’re going to omit it from a seitan recipe, though, I’d probably reduce the liquid a little.

I have no idea how much meat costs, so I can’t compare it to that, but I’ve found it’s cheaper than buying ready-made seitan products, for sure. For example, it probably costs about $7 CAD to make 8 sausages, versus $7 CAD for 4 ready-made.

Yeah, I can see where vegans might need to be very concerned about it, but I’m not going entirely meatless, I’m just looking for a new type of food to add variety to our diet here. Our diet is actually pretty darn good, between the garden and making stuff from scratch from stuff like whole grains. Our nutrition is actually something I’m pretty confident we’re doing well.

I’m sure it’s somewhat like meat - there a huge range between ground beef and the finest steak, after all. Likewise, I expect some variation in seitan products. I’m looking for a small quantity of it to start. After all, I don’t even know if we like the stuff.

Oddly enough, I think it’s available at our local bread “thrift” shop. That could wind up being a very reasonable price.

One thing I like to make with Seitan that isn’t really “cooking” is vegan chicken salad sandwiches. You sort of chop or shred the seitan, mix in some vegan mayonnaise-like stuff (I forget the brand name but I think it’s called just that, Vegenaise) and some chopped celery. Mmm.

Anything else? Today is my shopping day, so if if this stuff is available where I think it is I’ll be picking some up today for experimentation.

Oh, and I consider anything in the kitchen involving food preparation to be “cooking” whether it involves heat or not. :slight_smile:

I was going to come in with a Church Lady reference, but wanted to wait until you had some legitimate answers to your question. Now, I see I was too late, alas.

Oh, well, even though I wasted it:

Who’s that in the kitchen cooking up something with Broomstick? Could it be, oh…SEITAN?

Definitely use a “fra diavolo” sauce.

The only place I found it was… get this…

In the gluten-free section at Meijer’s!

OK, it’s where they have ALL their specialty flours so I suppose in some odd way it make sense, but the idea of a bag of pure gluten sitting amongst all those “celiac diet” powders and boxes was… well, I’m sure the staff are still trying to figure out what I found so funny.

At $8/pound I’m afraid I will not be buying that for dinner. Not when I can get round steak for $3.69 at the local butcher.

I will, however, continue to look for prices within my budget.