Saturday, September 14, 2013

Day 11: A Pictorial Guide to Homemade Seitan

Sooo.... I've deviated from my originally planned daily theme. A couple of times at this point. Today is no different. Today I am sharing my pictorial guide to homemade seitan, in preparation for tomorrow's meatloaf. Yes, tomorrow we will have meatloaf. And making tomorrow's seitan today will make that a little easier. So here goes....

When I first started this blog, I made a pictorial guide to making seitan. The pictures were horrible. I'm pretty sure people who saw them were left horrified and hoping that they never ever ever came across this "seitan."

Time for round two, because homemade seitan >> store bought (although, as we will see in a few days, there's nothing wrong with store bought seitan in taquitos). So hopefully this pictorial guide will make seitan look a little bit more appetizing, and a little bit more approachable. It's actually very easy, the only time consuming part is waiting for it to cook. 

For those of you haven't tried seitan, which probably isn't many during Vegan MoFo, but just in case, it's a pretty decent substitute for meat, but the benefit is that you can make it in your kitchen and not feel super suspicious about how it was made. It has a meatier texture and umami taste than tofu or tempeh do. Buddhists have been making it for thousands of years. Another good thing about making it at home is that you can flavor it how you want to depending on what you're using it for. You can either mix herbs and spices into the dough or add sauces to the boiling broth. Experiment and have fun! The other good thing is that you can add nutritional yeast, which supplies extra protein and B12. 

Basic Seitan
Makes 8 pieces of seitan (enough for 8 people), or about two pounds
Time: 1 hour 20 min (20 min active)

For the seitan:
2 cups wheat gluten (I've found Bob's Red Mill to be the best)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (regular paprika will be fine, but smoked is a little meatier)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon veggie broth concentrate (I really like the Better Than Bouillon stuff that comes in a jar)
1/4 cup shoyu or soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (Like Annie's) 

For the boiling broth
8 cups water
2 teaspoons veggie broth concentrate
1/4 cup soy sauce

First, mix together the gluten, nutritional yeast and spices in a large bowl. In a measuring cup mix together the water, broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and olive oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Using your hands makes this easier. Once a ball of dough has formed, powder a clean surface with more wheat gluten. **This is the important note you will see below** To make sure that your seitan is firm and not spongy, you need to make sure that it has absorbed as much gluten as it can, and this ratio will change depending on the humidity. For this reason I knead my seitan with wheat gluten until it no longer feels very moist, and until it has difficulty binding to itself. 

Keep kneading until you have incorporated as much gluten as possible, the dough springs back when pressed, and strings of gluten are visible. Cut the dough first into quarters, and then halve each quarter to make eight pieces. Knead these pieces briefly to try and produce a more appealing shape. 

To make the boiling broth, simply add the water, veggie broth concentrate, and soy sauce to a large pot. Drop the seitan pieces in. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Let seitan simmer for an hour until it is firm and no longer gummy in the center (you may have to sacrifice a piece the first few time until you have a good feel for what it should look like!).



  1. Good to see the steps. I think many recipes don't call for enough spices in the preparation. Why is it that some recipes call for washing the gluten and some don't?
    My first three attempts have tended to produce a rubbery texture. Some recipes say this is from cooking on too high a temperature. Your recipe calls for the highest boil of all and the longest cooking time.
    Others claim you have to let the dough rest for up to an hour, others say just ten minutes. You'd think that after thousands of years of Monks making Seitan, that one, best recipe would have emerged by now. Any comments?

    1. You would think! I think that some recipes call for washing because it's a way of extracting the gluten from the flour. I have never tried this technique. I am always hesitant to try new seitan recipes because I've had a lot of failures and I don't at this point have the time (or money) to throw in the trash. So I just stick to this one. To be quite honest, I tend to let it cook for over an hour sometimes and it still comes out fine. I've only had problems when it didn't seem to have cooked long enough and was gooey.