Tips, Tricks And Other Things: Seitan From Scratch (vegan)

After a month of random things going wrong (read: food poisoning for me AND my partner, a cat that needed an operation and then both cats being neutered) which all left me severely sleep deprived, I’m back baby! My first post is one for the people who can’t find/afford fancy schmancy vital wheat gluten but want to make seitan anyway. I have been making ‘wheat meat’ from flour for a while now and would like to share some tips and tricks with you. There are loads of videos on Youtube that explain really well how to make it so I am sticking to my basic recipe and tips about how to get good results. You can find a recipe here in which I used this homemade seitan. If there’s only recipe you try on my blog, that one should be it. No pressure.

… I was lying, just check it out.

Ingredients (yields a bit over 1/2 cup of seitan):

  • 4 cups of all purpose flour (you can use strong bread flour too but for me, the texture seems better with all purpose flour)
  • About 1.5 cup of filtered water

Method:

  • Mix flour and water in a big bowl and knead. The exact amount of water you need really depends on what kind of flour you use, so if the dough is too sticky, add some flour, if too dry, add some water. If the dough is too wet it will stick to the cling wrap or plastic bag so do make sure it doesn’t stick too much to the bowl when you take it out.
  • Let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered in cling wrap or in a plastic bag.
  • Take it out of the cling wrap and put it in a colander. Put the colander in a clean sink or big bowl and fill it up with water.
  • Knead the dough in the water. It doesn’t matter how you knead, you just need to get the starch out. When the water is white, replace the water with fresh water and knead again. The texture will change and it will fall apart but that’s what the colander is for. Just knead it back together.
  • Repeat this a few times until the water is clear and you are left with something that looks like an alien brain.
  • Squeeze out the water and you’re good to go!

Storage:

You can keep raw seitan in the fridge or freezer but this will make the texture gummy. It’s better to prepare it straight away and then keep it in the fridge or freezer. It will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days (I personally wouldn’t go over 5 though), and in the freezer for about 3 months.

Tips, Tricks And Other Things:

Now, seitan can be boiled, steamed, baked and fried. My problem with boiling it is that it often gets either really gummy or too soft, both of which I don’t like. And even when you boil it in a broth, the inside of the seitan won’t taste like anything. If you first marinate it and then steam or boil it, the water just washes away the marinade so that’s not an option either. My preferred method is to pan fry it, I love how it gives you a really meaty texture and it actually tastes like something after marinating. I haven’t tried baking yet but I think that should also work.

These are tips for when you want to pan fry the fresh seitan you made:

  • When you’re done making the seitan, you’ll need to marinate it. Seitan is notoriously bland so you’ll need the marinade to be strong! It’s also a good idea to use some oil in the marinade to make it a little juicier. Massage the marinade through the seitan and put ‘holes’ in it with your fingers so the marinade soaks in a little.
  • Stretch the seitan. You do this to give it a more meat-like texture. You can also cut it in at least two strands (see next step). Then let it marinate. I’ve found that 15 minutes gives you enough flavour and doesn’t mess with the texture. If you want to let it sit in the marinade for a little longer you can do that, but I wouldn’t go over 30 minutes.
  • You can stretch the whole thing again until it’s thin and panfry it like that, or you can stretch it and twist or braid the strands around each other. Again, both options improve the texture. I prefer it when it’s thin because the flavour and texture seems to be better and it’s perfect for Asian dishes.
  • When you pan fry the pieces, just do it like you would with meat. Remember, a little (or a lot of) oil doesn’t hurt because seitan contains pretty much no fat.
  • And last but not least: if you are planning to use the seitan in a stew or sauce, don’t leave the seitan in there even for a few minutes unless you want softer pieces! I usually stir it through right before serving or put it on top of the dish.

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