Seitan – a wheat meat substitute

I only discovered seitan recently and I am shocked I was not introduced to it earlier! It’s an incredibly versatile, cheap meat substitute, healthier than tofu, tastier than Quorn. I am not a vegetarian but being very concerned about the quality of the meat available to me and the disgusting treatment towards animals, I’m trying to lower my intake of meat and have more meatless days. Seitan is a substitute made from wheat gluten, used for centuries in Asian cuisine. Yes, I know gluten has a bad reputation right now and some people do have intolerances to it, but I do believe gluten is fine for most. Seitan is particularly good because it is very high in protein and low in fat, and it is also possible to make it gluten-free by using different types of flour (will have to try that soon!). IMG_7119

Seitan works great with my family because you can adapt it to a whole range of recipe and it is super cheap if you make it yourself from scratch. I am still experimenting with it and trying to make different textures and incorporate more flavours, so bear with me: I will be back with more recipes. For now, I just wanted to shared the basic recipe for Seitan.

What you’ll need:IMG_7088

+ Flour (preferably wholewheat, organic)

+ Water

Yes, that’s all! Of course to make it palatable, you will also need spices, flavourings and stock, but it’s totally up to you how you go about this. I needed a handful of seitan to add to a stir-fry, so I went for Asian style seitan. I used:

+ 3 cups of flour

+ a tablespoon of salt

+ a table spoon of chinese 5 spice

+ about 1 large cup of water for the dough

I then popped it all in the bread maker (dough mode) for about ten minutes until I had a firm, non-sticky dough. Once you have done that, you need to separate the starch from the gluten by putting it in a bowl under running water. This takes a while, between 10-15 mins. You need to keep pressing the dough until the water runs clear, and this can be tricky because it starts separating into tiny pieces.

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After a bit tough, it sorts of comes together in a spongy-like form. Then, leave for a few hours in a drainer: the more you leave it, the firmer it will be.

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Once drained, cut into pieces and cook for 20-30 mins in a simmering pot of stock (I used vegetarian stock but you can use a meat-based one, or simply cook with onion and some veg to add flavour). Drain again. I then pan-fry it with a bit a soya sauce and sesame oil until brown, then added to my stir fry.IMG_7120

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