I’ve been kinda lazy with posting this week, and I do plan to eventually make recipes a pretty regular part of this site, so here is a great recipe for homemade seitan. If you’re scared of gluten, read this post by Pythagorean Crank.
It’s really easy to make seitan, but it is somewhat time-consuming. If you have the freezer space, double or even triple this recipe. The texture difference of freezing seitan is minimal. I first started making seitan based on the recipe on the wrapper of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten, but I’ve been tweaking it to my tastes since then. What follows is a guide to making seitan to your liking. I’ve been tinkering with different variations and you can benefit from my experimentation.
Variations/options: the addition of nutritional yeast gives the seitan a texture closer to sausage, specifically the type of sausage you get on a pizza. Basically, the yeast softens it up a bit. Also, adding nutritional yeast will give a vitamin kick to your seitan, which is good. Nutritional yeast is delicious and good for you. But it WILL make it softer and less “meaty.” Overall, I think the taste is definitely better when nutritional yeast is included.
However, if you want the seitan to have a texture/flavor/color closer to beef jerky (or stiffer meats in general), leave the nutritional yeast out and go with the higher amounts of soy sauce, black pepper and crushed red pepper. 1 tbsp of soy sauce in the broth makes for a fairly light-colored, less salty product and 4 tbsp is VERY salty and dark, along the lines of beef jerky. I think most people will be happiest with the medium amounts of either 2 or 3 tbsp of soy sauce.
280 g gluten (just slightly over two cups)
40 g nutritional yeast (about 4 level tablespoons)
1 tbsp ground sage
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
.5 – 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
.5 – 1 tbsp black pepper
2 cups water
1 vegetarian “beef” boullion cube (optional)
5 cups water
1-4 tbsp soy sauce
Put 5 cups of water and X tbsp soy sauce in a large pot and get it close to boiling as you work on the dough. Combine gluten, yeast (optional) and spices in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Put boullion cube in 1 cup of water. Microwave and stir until the cube is dissolved. Add one more cup of cold water to this boullion mixture and stir until it’s homogeneous. Pour the two cups of boullion water into the dry mixture. Immediately begin working the dough with a wooden spoon and combine until all the water is absorbed and none of the dough mixture is still dry. You may have to add a few more tablespoons of water.
Now you will have a giant ball of spiced wheat gluten. Pull off small chunks (about the size of a golf ball) and squeeze/roll it in your palms, stretching it outward. Start pulling small chunks off of this elongated piece and drop the chunks into the water. How big the chunks are depends on how big you want the pieces to be at the end and how much patience you have for this part of the process. The chunks will pretty much double in size. For now just pick a size and go with it. At a minimum, each golf ball-sized piece should be ripped into no fewer than eight pieces. Throughout this process, stir the pot every minute or so and try to keep the water to a gentle boil. Once all the dough is in there, keep it at a low boil and continue to stir at least every 5 minutes. This part of the process could take 45 minutes or more.
Once the level of the water/broth is lower than the “meat” on the top of the pile, you need to attend to the pot more frequently. Turn up the heat to medium or medium-high and commit to spending the next 10-15 minutes stirring. Basically, you’re gonna stir until almost all of the excess liquid is either burned off or absorbed into the seitan. Just keep stirring until the final product resembles the texture of ground beef. At the end, there should be no/minimal liquid in the bottom of the pot.
Voila! You’re done! Put that shit in tacos, soups, pizzas, sandwiches, whatever. It will keep in a refrigerator for 4-7 days. It will keep in a freezer pretty much indefinitely, and like I said above, the texture difference of freezing is minimal.
A note on nutrition: gluten/seitan is a high-protein food, but it is also a pretty unbalanced protein. Most vegans hate the idea of “incomplete protein” and the idea that one should combine proteins to achieve “complete proteins” but the reality is that gluten is high in certain amino acids (methionine and cysteine) and low in others (mainly lysine). My point is not that veg*anism is hard and requires one to be super-vigilant about protein intake. Not at all. My point is that even though seitan is super rich in protein, you do still need to eat some legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils, soy etc.) to have a well-rounded diet. You don’t need to eat some legumes in the same meal as the seitan, or even the same day, but in general, vegans should have a diet that regularly (i.e. pretty much every day) incorporates legumes. You can’t just eat a ton of seitan and think that you’re fulfilling your protein requirements. Vegans need legumes. Lysine is good. Seitan is good. Eat both and be happy.
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