HISTORY OF SEITAN
Seitan was supposedly created by seventh century Buddhist monks were looking for a meat alternative besides tofu. Buddhism requires adherents to cultivate reverence for life, a concept most Buddhists interpret as a mandate to follow a vegetarian lifestyle.
Seitan has been popular in the Asian countries for centuries, while only fairly recently becoming popular in America, thanks to the Seventh Day Adventists, and the macrobiotic diet. It was the Japanese who developed the process of simmering it in soy sauce and seasonings and called it seitan. It means “ideal protein” in Japanese. This more obscure cousin of tofu, utilized as a meat substitute in many vegetarian recipes, is made by separating protein-rich wheat gluten from the starch and bran in the grain.
GETTING YOUR HANDS ON IT
You can simply purchase seitan pre-cooked at a health food store. However, this is the priciest option and, to be honest, it is very easy to make, inexpensive, and tastes a lot better fresh.
You could make seitan from scratch by kneading whole wheat dough, rinsing it under cold water in order to remove the starch, and simmering the left over gluten in a broth consisting of tamari, ginger, and other spices. Or, you could skip the time consuming part of washing away the starch and buy a product called “Vital Wheat Gluten”, available in health food stores, and many other markets. All you need to do is add your choice of seasoning and liquid, knead, and then simmer the dough. In this post, I will show you a very simple version that anyone can make at home. There are many other recipes and ways to make seitan into nuggets, roasts, or chicken-like strips. My hope is that you will try this first to see how incredibly easy it is to make seitan yourself.
• Seitan is very high in protein
• It is low in calories
• Seitan has no cholesterol and virtually no saturated fat
Here's how you do it:
• 1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten (equals 1 10-oz package Arrowhead Mills brand; however, I mostly use Bob's Redmill)
• 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (not brewer's yeast!)
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 1/2 cups water
• 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
• 1 tablespoons olive oil
Honestly, you may use whatever herbs & spices you like! Try smoked paprika, or rosemary and lemon zest for a different variation.
• about 7 or 8 cups water, fill your pot to cover your seitan, it doesn't have to be exact
• about 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
• 1 medium onion, cut in half
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast and spices.
In a measuring cup, combine the 3 wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough a few minutes, then let it rest for 5-10 min. while you prepare the broth.
Prepare the broth by compining water, and soy sauce in a large pot and bring just to a simmer.
Add onion and garlic.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces and place into barely simmering broth.
Simmer lightly covered for 1 hour. Do not let broth come to a boil.
It takes mostly unattended time, and is very easy to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or one night after dinner. The recipe makes about 2 lbs. The seitan can cool in the liquid and then be refrigerated. It will keep up to 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 weeks in the freezer stored in it's broth.
Think of the seitan you have right now as a basic ingredient like tofu. It's very versatile to use in many dishes. For example you could slice it thinly and warm it up in your favorite BBQ sauce to serve on buns Sloppy Joe-style. Or, Franka's favorite seen in the picture above: sliced, dipped in flour for a very light coating, and pan fried. Squeeze some lemon on top and it tastes like the Wiener Schnitzel I liked in my childhood. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!