Anyone hoping to find a meat alternative will likely come across soy, tofu, and other similar choices in the grocery store. One of the lesser known options is called seitan, and while you might think it would taste like soy meat and have a similar texture, it’s quite different.
This is a very good meat substitute, as it tastes a lot like meat and has a similar texture as well. It’s naturally a brownish colour too, making it a good sub for pork sausage and ground beef. Seitan stands out from its meat-copying counterparts because it isn’t made from soy beans. It actually comes from wheat, so those with a gluten allergy will need to stay far away from seitan.
This food is formed when protein is moved from wheat, so this is made up entirely of protein. If you are eating a vegetarian diet, you may not need to have a lot of eggs, fish, or beans to give you protein in your diet when you can just use seitan.
Seitan may even be in some of the foods you eat already, especially if they are veggie dishes that have a meat substitute. Seitan can show up on a list of ingredients in some foods as vital wheat gluten, so it’s not always named seitan.
This food is high in protein and salt (sodium), with some carbohydrates and a bit of fiber. It’s not protein rich enough to be your only source of protein, though, so keep that in mind if you are avoiding meat.
One of the advantages of seitan is that it blends with other foods quite well, not standing out as terribly distinct, so it’s a good addition to a lot of dishes. If you aren’t familiar with seitan, you may wonder how to prepare it and how to use it in various dishes. I want to show you how to cook seitan and make some different meals with it so that you aren’t just experimenting every time you use this food.
What Flavour Does Seitan Have?
If you bite into some seitan, what will it taste like? It’s neutrally flavoured, really. The texture is the best thing about it, and no one is going to be impressed by plain, unseasoned seitan. That makes it good for throwing in other dishes and not worrying about how the flavour will affect them.
If you buy seitan from the grocery, however, it will probably be seasoned already. If you make it at home, you will need to do the seasoning yourself.
Make Seitan on Your Own
- Combine the ingredients together- wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings.
- Add in water or vegetable stock. You could also use soy sauce or miso.
- Mix these together until you create a doughy substance. That should take about three minutes. You can mix them by hand to make the dough or use a stand mixer. If your dough feels very dry, add in some water or vegetable broth a little at a time to get it to the right consistency.
- You can then separate your dough into loaves and place them into a large pit with plenty of water. You can add seasonings to the water to make a broth- thyme, soy, lemongrass, and ginger are all good options.
- Cook on a medium heat until the water starts to boil. Then, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, just long enough for the loaves to become firm.
- Take the pot off the heat and uncover it. Allow the loaves to sit in the water for about 15 minutes, then drain them and let them cool.
- After they have cooled, you can freeze or refrigerate them. They can also be served in slices or pieces.
How to Cook with Seitan
One of the best ways to have seitan is in strips, like chicken strips. Just cut it into long pieces and fry it up in a pan with light oil for a few minutes. This is how to cook seitan strips if you made it yourself and it is already cooked. The frying just helps to give the seitan a nice texture similar to that of fried meat. You are only cooking it long enough to warm it up. Be sure to dab away the extra oil with a paper towel, once the seitan strips come out of the oil.
If you have seitan cubes, you can use them in soups, stews, and salads. If you want them cooked to soak up the flavour of the soup, there is an easy way to do that. How to cook seitan cubes for soup? You can just add them to the soup while it is cooking, allowing them to simmer there and absorb flavour. This makes your seitan tender and so delicious. Just add them during the last few minutes of cooking for best results.
For a seitan stir fry, the method is very simple as well. How to cook seitan stir fry? Just add in your diced, cubed, or other cuts of seitan to the stir fry and cook it all together. The seitan can cook with the noodles and veggies and whatever else you have. It will take from their flavour and give you a nice, chewy texture on the outside from the frying.
How to Cook Store Bought Seitan
If you buy your seitan from the store, keep in mind that it will probably be seasoned. It may have all sorts of flavouring to it and will probably taste pretty good without you having to add anything to it. So, you may want to cook it on its own before adding it to other dishes, so it doesn’t absorb some of their flavour. You can warm up seitan in the microwave, on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. It doesn’t take long at all to cook either.
How long to cook seitan for? It should just take a few minutes. You are trying to warm it, not cook it through, since it does not need to cook. You can simply brown it or heat it up for a few seconds. If you are adding it to soup or something that takes a long time to cook, add the seitan in the last few minutes.
Remember that if you buy seitan already prepared in the store, it won’t need to cook at all and it may not need to be flavoured. Check the packaging and ingredients to see what kind of seasoning it is made with, if any. That will tell you if you need to add anything or if it is flavourful enough already.