Wheat gluten, also called seitan (pronounced /ˈseɪtæn/), wheat meat, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from the gluten of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten.
Wheat gluten, although not as well known, is an alternative to soybean-based meat substitutes such as tofu. Some types of wheat gluten have a chewy and/or stringy texture more like that of meat than most other substitutes. Wheat gluten is often used instead of meat in Asian, vegetarian, Buddhist, and macrobiotic cuisines. Simulated duck is a common use for wheat gluten.
Wheat gluten is most popular in Japan and China, where it was first developed, as well as in the cuisines of other East and Southeast Asian nations. In Asia, it is commonly found on the menus of restaurants catering primarily to Buddhist customers who do not eat meat.
Because it was first popularized in western nations during the second half of the 20th century through its promotion by proponents of the macrobiotic diet, seitan (the name by which it is known in macrobiotic circles) is also the name by which wheat gluten is best known in most English-speaking nations. In the West, prepared wheat gluten is generally available only in Asian markets and health food stores (although gluten flour is commonly available in supermarkets).
1 cup vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
6 cups broth for cooking
1. Combine gluten flour and dry spices in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce and 3/4 cup water. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Gluten will have a rubbery consistency. Add more water a tablespoon at a time only if needed.
2. Once mixture is well combined, knead seitan 10-15 times, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then knead a few more times.
3. Separate your ball of gluten into three or four smaller chunks. Gently stretch each piece into a flat cutlet, around 3/4 inch thick. Seitan will expand when cooking, so you’ll want to start out with somewhat thin cutlets. Don’t worry about any holes that may form in the gluten.
4. Add seitan to 6 cups of broth (I used chicken broth) in a large pot and bring to a slow simmer. You can add extra spices or flavors to this broth as well.
5. Cover pot and allow to cook for an hour or more. Be sure to use a large pot and plenty of broth, as seitan will expand. Seitan is done cooking when it has firmed up and expanded.
6. Remove from broth, allow to cool. Seitan keeps well in the freezer in a sealed container or zip lock bag.