Homemade seitan is dirt cheap (less than $1 for the amount used in the steam instruction pics here, plus sauce), as healthy as you want to make it, endlessly flavourable and can be any texture you like.
We use it crumbed and fried into KFC-style “chicken”, marinated and stirfried, in burgers, as a roast, minced for spag bol and a million other things. It can be frozen, boiled, baked, minced or anything else you fancy.
So grab yourself a bag of gluten flour, try one of the basic recipes below and then have fun adapting it 🙂
Making The Dough
Firstly, I don’t like chickpeas/beans/other flours in my seitan, just proper gluten-meatiness. Occasionally I’ll put a little bit of chickpea flour in if I’m making a meatloaf with veges or similar, to make it like sausage meat, but mostly I like it stringy and stretchy. Try it this way first, then have a go at one of the million recipes out there blending it with various things.
1. Gather ingredients.
Some supermarkets and bulk foods shops have gluten flour, but I buy ours from http://www.lindstromfoods.co.nz/ who are far cheaper than elsewhere. I’m using 300gm – 2 large cups.
For the liquid I usually throw in a mix of soy sauce/garlic/stock/ginger etc. Whatever you use, mix it into the liquid well, and make it a very strong mix, like a marinade, because lots of it will vanish in the cooking. I use a minimum of 1 stock cube, 3Tb soy sauce and a fair bit of everything else per cup of liquid.
Use a stainless bowl and utensil for the initial mixing, or a plastic bag, because if the gluten flour grabs onto anything other than itself it’s very very hard to get off.
2. Decide if you want dense ultra-chewy seitan, or softer spongier. I make it dense for steak/pork replacement type recipes, softer for fried chicken/roasts etc.
For soft seitan, use 1c + 2 tablespoons of liquid per cup of seitan, for tougher use around 3/4 cup liquid.
Pour the liquid into the flour all at once, then mix carefully until it binds together. Once you start mixing it you can’t add more liquid into the texture, it doesn’t disolve, so do it all at once. Keep it contained in the bowl/bag and smoosh around until all the flour is wetted in. If there’s not enough liquid and you can still see dry flour after much smooshing then add a tiny bit more water.
Once it’s come together you can do anything to it and it will hold like a piece of meat, so chuck some more water over it to wet the outside and it won’t stick to the bench or your hands. Kneed it and play with it for a while, until it gets a good muscle texture. Put it aside to rest while you get ready to cook it.
Cooking The Seitan
There’s two basic methods to cook the raw seitan dough: steaming or boiling.
Boiled seitan is far moister, squidgier and stringier, and definitely our favourite for flavour and texture. It’s much more suited to cooking a second time to become something else, like crumbed chicken or ground up mince. If you’re familiar with rehydrated TVP, plain boiled seitan is very similar.
Lately I’ve also been steam cooking it a lot, because we’ve had the slow cooker on anyway and it’s so easy to toss on top of whatever’s in there. Done this way it has air in the pockets and dries out quickly once opened, so either eat it immediately, or slice and put in marinade to be cooked into something later. Or flavour it for sandwich ham, slice thin and let it air out a bit and it won’t soggy up the bread.
Boil a very big pot of water, adding stock if wanted. Smoosh the seitan dough on the bench to flatten somewhat, then cut into pieces. Be aware that they will rejoin magically if you leave them sitting there touching each other too long.
Once the water is boiling, add the seitan pieces and adjust the heat to simmer steadily. Put a lid on to keep the seitan contained in the water as much as possible, and poke it around a few times while cooking to make sure it all gets turned under.
Depending on the thickness of your pieces, it should be done in about 20 mins. You’ll know when you lift the lid to check and find it has grown ridiculously:
Once it’s done, turn off the heat, and drain or leave in liquid according to what you’ll be using it for. If drained the outside will toughen and dry out a little as it cools, if left to cool in liquid it will stay soft and moist all through. Drained briefly and eaten as is it will be super juicy but rather bland unless cooked in a heavy stock.
Here’s the same batch drained and back in the mixing bowl, now weighing 750gm:
And here’s a piece sliced after cooling and draining for 15mins. You can see the outside (on right) has darkened and toughened up a little as it dries, but the inside is full of pockets of stock:
This batch was kept in it’s cooking liquid while I readied crumb mix and a pan, then sliced, crumbed and fried immediately. You can see it’s super soft, moist and spongy all through:
Smoosh it into a log (not easy, it resists all attempts to change shape and springs back into a ball). If you over-strech it enough the muscle-string-things will tear apart. If you want smaller bits cut it with a knife.
Make it into a tinnie, leaving space for it to swell up a bit, and poke a few holes in the top. It grows to the shape of the foil, so it doesn’t matter how lumpy it is when you put it in. You can cover it in sauce or seeds etc inside the tinfoil too. Or use cheesecloth instead of tinfoil if you prefer.
Put it on whatever you’re cooking, and steam for at least 20mins, until it’s all puffed and feels cooked.
Big puffy cooked tinnie…
Using The Seitan
Once cooked, the seitan can be frozen, minced, coated, grilled, baked or anything else you want to do with it, and will hold it’s form. I like to make twice as much as we’ll need that day, then freeze half for a quick meal another night. Some of the things we do with it:
Chop into chunks and toss in the food processor for a minute and you’ve got perfect vege mince:
Coat in a mix of crumbs and spices and fry into kfc or chicken nibbles:
Slather on some marinade and stirfry