03 July 2013

Maggie's Homemade Seitan

In the life of a professor, one would think that summer time would be low key. I'm not teaching classes and I don't have to go to work, so I don't have anything to do, right? On one hand, my time could be spent doing nothing. On the other hand, I'd go crazy if I wasn't doing things. On another hand (apparently I'm a mutant?), Shana only has 6 weeks off and summer is the time that we go visiting our families and friends (I'm on a trip right now, actually). On yet another hand, I do actually have work stuff I need to be doing (like manuscript writing, data collection, and syllabi editing/creation). What I guess I'm trying to say is that I haven't had as much time as I'd like this summer to do some cooking. I will be doing more later this month and the early weeks of August though, so don't despair!

In the mean time, I do have a few posts I plan to share with you all. This one, about seitan, is one I've been meaning to share forever. Seitan is a high protein food, but it is not for those who are gluten sensitive or intolerant (as it is wheat gluten). It is easy to make, can be used in a variety of ways, and freezes like a dream. As I've said before, you can buy seitan at the store, but I like the taste and texture of the homemade stuff far more. It's easiest to eat a well-balanced vegan diet if you make sure to include some high-protein foods; seitan totally fits in that category!
Here it's ready to become any number of dinners!
Up until now, I've held off on posting recipes that use seitan as a major ingredient (except for Vegan Baked Ziti). This has been hard, because we often have a meal every week that uses seitan as a primary ingredient. But since this post is here now, I'll be posting more recipes with seitan in the future. 

Seitan cut into strips for Seitan au Jus (one of Shana's favorites). 
Maggie's Homemade Seitan
This recipe is based on the seitan recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance

2 c. vital wheat gluten (see notes)
1/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes
a dash or two of pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1 c. water
1/2 c. Bragg's liquid aminos (or use slightly less soy sauce and up the water)
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. olive oil
cheese cloth & kitchen twine
12 c. broth
extra soy sauce, pepper, onion powder, & garlic powder

1. Mix the first 5 dry ingredients (wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, pepper, onion, and garlic) in a mixer. 

2. Mix the next ingredients (water, Bragg's, tomato paste, and oil) in another bowl/measuring cup, then add it to the dry mixture. 
3. Let mix (on the lowest speed) for about a minute. It comes out looking all squishy. 

4. Wrap the dough in cheesecloth and tie the ends like a Tootsie Roll. 

5. Put the wrapped dough in the broth, drizzle soy sauce over it, and add any pepper, onion, and garlic into the broth. Turn the heat on to bring the broth to a boil, then turn down and SIMMER (!!!!) for 1 hour to 1.5 hours. 

6. Ideally, let rest in the broth for a while to cool, but it can be removed immediately. 

Helpful Hints
  • I use the Arrowhead Mills brand of vital wheat gluten and 2 c. is exactly one box. You can find vital wheat gluten - which is NOT the same as flour - by the flours in most grocery stores. Natural foods stores will carry the Arrowhead Mills or Bob's Red Mill. 
  • Bragg's liquid aminos is a dark liquid kind of like soy sauce, but it has a slightly different flavor. You can also find this in most stores with a natural foods section. 
  • The onion/garlic powders in this recipe are pretty arbitrary. I never measure them, but this is a pretty good approximation. You could also add other flavors (e.g., cayenne, oregano, etc.), but I'd master the basic recipe first. 
  • Cheesecloth and kitchen twine can be found in many grocery stores or in stores like Target. 
  • The thing about wheat gluten is that it is the stuff that makes bread chewy. Many recipes for seitan tell you to cut little pieces and put them in the broth. But if you do this, the chunks of dough will expand to 3-4 times their size. Wrapping the dough in cheesecloth forces it to "expand" in on itself, making the end result dense and chewy. It's awesome. 
  • To freeze, you can either cut in into your desire shapes (strips, rounds, cubes) and then put in a freezer safe container or you can wrap the the cooked loaf in plastic wrap and then in foil. Thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave in a pinch (but this leads to a chewier end result). 
The post "Maggie's Homemade Seitan" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I'm totally going to try making my own seitan now. Do you just use simple veg. broth? Does most of the flavor come from the broth or the seasoning?

    1. You can use any veg broth you like, but my preference (in this version of seitan) is to use Better than Bouillon's "No-Beef" mixed with something a bit lighter (I do an arbitrary 2/3 to 1/3 mixture). The broth does matter though, as the dough will absorb a lot of flavor that way. The dough has some flavor on its own, but not a ton. FYI, if you find you like this, there are a ton of other ways to cook the dough (many people swear by steaming it, for example).