Seitan is on a lot of menus in the city, usually as a burger, but what actually is it and how can you use it in your cooking?
Put simply, seitan is the OG of meat alternatives. It’s wheat gluten mixed with a shed load of flavors to create a slab of delicious meat alternative. Its versatility means you can shape into burgers, sausages, brisket… pretty much anything you want.
If you live near a health foods shop, you’ll probably be able to pick up some ready-made seitan. Bigger supermarkets may have burgers and sausages, but the easiest, tastiest and most cost-efficient way to enjoy seitan is to make it yourself. You get to be really creative with the flavours and it’s a brilliant batch-cook that you can freeze for later.
Since learning to make seitan, it’s my go-to when I need to create a big meal to share, like a wellington, or to prep smaller meals for the week, like spaghetti and meatballs.
Get your texture and flavours nailed and this will be a game-changer to your cooking.
LET’S BREAK DOWN THE INGREDIENTS
THE DRY INGREDIENTS
First things first, you’re probably going to need to visit a health food shop for a couple of these items because they aren’t readily available in your average supermarket. However, buy them once and they’ll be the gift that keeps on giving.
- Wheat gluten: It’s pretty much pure gluten that’s made from wheat flour and what gives your dough its elasticity allowing you to shape it.
- Nutritional yeast: this isn’t the same as the yeast used when baking bread. Nutritional yeast undergoes a heating process meaning it’s inactive. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals and is a high-quality protein source. Its nutty, cheesy flavour means it’s used a lot on plant-based cooking to flavour dishes. One to keep in stock because it can be added to lots of dishes.
- Chickpea flour: made from milled- chickpeas, some seitan recipes will include this to make the dough less dense.
Everything else for your dry ingredients can be picked up in the spices section of the supermarket such as onion salt, garlic granules, paprika and pepper.
This is where you can be really creative with your flavour profiles. In many of the recipes we’ve tried, the basis of most seitan wet ingredients are:
- Soy or tamari sauce
- Tomato paste
- Vegetable stock
- Vegetable oil
- Hot sauce
In previous recipes, I’ve experimented with teriyaki sauce and liquid smoke, both of which I recommend. I’ve even placed slices of beetroot into the seitan, coated with a chimichurri sauce and cooked it into a puff pastry wellington. That was delicious. Honestly, experimentation here is key!
WHAT RECIPES DO YOU RECOMMEND?
There are loads online, but from what I’ve tried, these 2 have worked out best
If you want to go down the boiling route, Viva! rock this old school method in their recipe for making seitan slices and meatballs.
We’ve done this a couple of times. It’s really easy. We’ve made meatballs and then put them into a sub with some homemade marinara sauce.
Now this is what I’m talking about. Sticky, messy and ridiculously filling. Instead of boiling, this seitan is cooked in the oven, then grilled on the BBQ. If you’re having a BBQ, this is the one for everyone, not just the vegans in your group. I made it at New Year and it was so flavoursome (and lasted weeks).