Easy Seitan: slices, roasts, wheat ‘meatballs’

Easy Seitan: slices

Seitan – or gluten – is the original meat alternative. This tasty dish originated in China hundreds if not thousands of years ago as a food for vegetarian Buddhist monks. It has since percolated round the Far East, eg Japan and Vietnam and is now used widely in contemporary Western veggie and vegan food.

High in protein, low in fat, and dense in texture, it lends itself to all sorts of dishes, including stir fries, ‘steaks’, deli slices for sandwiches, meat balls/chunks and more.

While it is an excellent source of protein, it is pure gluten so best not eaten more than once a week – it’s always good to include as wide a variety of foods as possible, eg pulses, tofu, nuts, wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and the like. Obviously, seitan is unsuitable for the gluten or wheat intolerant.

Shopping tips

  • Ready-prepared gluten flour (also known as vital gluten or vital wheat gluten flour) is available from some health food shops or else online from stores such as BuyWholefoodsOnline; Veggie Stuff and Realfoods (who sell an organic version). Ebay also carries a range of prices and brands!
  • Engevita nutritional yeast flakes are available from Holland & Barrett, independent health food shops and Ocado or the above sites.

We’ve also seen both products on Amazon! As you’ll see, it’s worth shopping around to get the best deal. It can be a very economical dish to make.

Do I need to make so much?!
No – this recipe is easily halved or even quartered. But remember, it freezes well so if you’ve got the space it’s a brilliant core ingredient for many recipes.

If you’d like to try it before making a batch, ready-mader versions are sold here
Health food shops: Yakso or Lima brands – jars. Usually organic.
Oriental supermarkets: brands such as Rolin; Wu Chung or Mong Lee Chang – sold in different varieties such as gluten; mock chicken; mock duck. Tinned and very good value.

Not too trickyNot too tricky Reduced sugar, diabetic friendly Low fat, low sugar, diabetic friendly Freezable recipe Cheap as chickpeas
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Preparation time

Cook time

Total time

60-70 minutes

Cuisine

United States and Canada

Meal

  • mains
  • sides-light-meals-and-salads
  • vegetable-side-dishes

Servings

4-8 servings

Ingredients

Seitan

  • 225g/8oz/1½ cups vital wheat gluten (also known as gluten flour)
  • 120g/4oz/½ cup nutritional yeast flakes, (Engevita)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour or tapioca flour
  • 120ml/4fl oz/half cup soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp oil, olive or plain vegetable
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed OR 1 heaped tsp garlic powder/granules
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 225-50ml/8-9floz/1 cup + water or vegan stock, cold (you can dissolve bouillon/cubes with a bit of hot water then top up with cold
  • Optional: dried or fresh herbs, eg ½ tsp allspice; 1 tsp paprika; ½ tsp chilli; 1 tsp mixed herbs – experiment

Extra stock for poaching

  • 3L/5pints COLD strong vegan stock (see notes on stock above)
  • 60ml/2floz/4 tbsp soya sauce, as above

Serving Suggestions

NB Don’t overcook seitan when using in wet dishes eg stews – add near the end of cooking time.

  • slices or cutlets in a roast dinner
  • thin deli slices for sandwiches (sliced from a large chunk of seitan)
  • shredded or cut into strips and added to stir-fries
  • grilled with a little oil and added to other dishes
  • form roughly shaped wheatballs/chunks then lightly fry. Add to the dish and warm through just before serving. Good with Italian tomato/herb sauce and spaghetti or linguini to make a classic vegan Spaghetti Meatballs. Or Stroganoff sauce with mushrooms

Instructions

1. Combine the first three ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix the puree, oil, soya sauce and garlic. Add this to the dry ingredients then gradually mix in the stock about a cup at a time with a wooden spoon or spatula. Start to mix everything together with your hands so all the dry bits round the edge of the bowl are incorporated into the ball of dough. Continue adding the liquid until everything is integrated and a thick dough has formed.

2. Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and easy to handle. Now form it into the shape you want to use:
a. 6 large slices
b. wheatballs.

3. Pour the extra stock and soya sauce into a large saucepan with a lid and then place the seitan pieces in carefully. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer/rolling boil. Cook the large pieces for 30 minutes, the wheatballs for 20. Turn over and repeat the cooking for these times. Make sure the seitan is covered with liquid at all times. Taste to see that the stock is strong enough – you can always add a dash or so of soya sauce but remember that the seitan can be seasoned in cooking so you don’t want it too salty.

4. Remove seitan from heat, and let it cool in the stock.

5. When it is cool, divide it into portions with stock – plastic boxes with lids are good. Keep some aside for using within the next 3 days and freeze anything else, also in the stock. Any leftover stock can be used for soups, stews, gravy etc.

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