get behind me seitan

by Stacy

Other than the available plethora of puns, seitan (say-tahn) is actually a handy weapon in your arsenal of meatless foods. You may know it as mock duck, wheat meat, or just gluten. I’m going to state the obvious here: this is the least gluten-free food ever. It’s made of gluten and spices.

The traditional method takes wheat flour and spends two days kneading and rinsing it to get rid of the starch leaving just gluten. For once, I used the shorter method (surprise!) and used vital wheat gluten which can be found in natural food stores or some better groceries with the flours or in the bulk bins. Bob’s Red Mill is another common brand. It can be fairly expensive per pound, but you don’t often use a lot at once.

homemade seitan

Not very cute, is it? It’s vital wheat gluten mixed with garlic, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, miso, tomato paste, and water, then simmered for an hour. This is just “gluten,” not yet seitan. Seitan has a chewier, more dense texture than tofu and is common in Asia. It’s often sold in cans as mock duck. While unlike tofu in texture, it is similar in that it absorbs the flavor of what it’s cooked with. It’s a bit more chicken-like in its uses.

homemade seitan

This was my first effort so the edges got a bit spongy. It still worked out great, it just made the seitan a bit fragile. I sliced mine into smaller pieces and cooked them in a cast iron skillet just barely coated with a slick of oil. The slight caramelization adds flavor while some of the water cooks out to improve the texture. About 20 minutes of heat does the trick.

homemade seitan

Seitan! You can, of course, buy this prepacked at the store (usually in the refrigerated section near the tempeh and wonton wrappers), but what’s the fun in that? My site’s tagline isn’t “then I will do it myself” for nothing! I happened to have a desire for seitan, a box of vital wheat gluten, and no car at home when I made this. Other bonus features: less salt, adaptable spices, and the satisfaction of a random food made at home.

Have you ever made seitan? Not yet?

Homemade Seitan

Inspired by the PPK
Yields about 4 cups


  • 1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated


  1. Place vital wheat gluten in a medium-large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine water, 1/3 cup of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, tomato paste, miso, and garlic. Whisk to combine wet ingredients.
  2. Add wet ingredients to vital wheat gluten and stir until a ball of dough forms. Knead about 3 minutes until dough is spongy and firm. Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large pot, mix 8-10 cups of cold water or half water, half vegetable broth. Do not heat yet.
  4. When dough has rested, shape it into an 8-inch log and cut it into 3 pieces. Add to pot of cold water and bring to a boil, partially covered. Reduce heat to a simmer, simmer for an hour, turning occasionally.
  5. After an hour, remove from heat and let gluten cool completely. If not using immediately, store in an air-tight container covered with cooking broth.
  6. To use, slice gluten into strips. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the smallest amount of oil possible to cover the bottom of the pan. Add sliced gluten to hot pan and cook about 20 minutes, turning often.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate June 12, 2010 at 7:31 pm

I have tried Seitan several different ways and have been really disappointed with it each time. The texture was waaaay too mushy for me…but that last pic….that nice little crisp and crunch you got…it gives me some hope.


Stacy June 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm

It does end up chewy (not in a bad way). I don’t buy the packaged stuff very often because it’s usually more expensive than tofu and tempeh and it’s just so salty. If you’re convinced and give it a try let me know how it turns out!


Mimi June 13, 2010 at 11:27 am

Cool. I just bought some vital wheat gluten to experiment with in my bread baking. I have all of the ingredients in the house but the tomato paste. Hee, hee hee! My boyfriend won’t know what hit him!!


Stacy June 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm

That’s the same reason I had the vital wheat gluten. =)
Heheh, good luck! Keep me posted.


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