Monday, January 20, 2014

All Hail Seitan (or Stop Paying So Much for Fake Meat at Trader Joe's with this Homemade Seitan Recipe)

Where's the beef? Not here! Hereabouts seitan's the in thing with broc, rice, or just with whatever. For those not in the know, seitan is a meat substitute type food made from gluten so if you're living the gluten-free life (which is cool) then this is not the post for you. Seitan is sometimes called wheat meat, mock dock, or if you live in our house, beefie-weefs.

Okay, so I guess that doesn't sound all that great, but trust me when I say it actually is great because you can pretty much make it taste like anything under the sun and it's got a surprisingly meaty texture. There are plenty of reasons to skip the beef - health reasons, ethical reasons, etc. - and seitan is a serviceable sub. Personally I wouldn't sit down to a grilled seitan steak but I love it in saucy dishes or in fajitas or just for snackin' on. 

This is what it looks like:

Notbadface.jpg, right?

And this is how you make it at home:

  • 2 cups sifted vital wheat gluten (note: do not accidentally grab high gluten flour instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon majoram
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Romano cheese
  • Some Lawry's salt
  • 2 cups water, plus a little more if needed
The broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Herbs and spices - have fun!

Before you start, there's something you should know. I'm an eyeballer. All the measurements above are flexible. Maybe you hate sage, so put something else instead. Use a lot of salt if that's your bag. Nix the cheese and go full-out vegan. You're not gonna mess up your seitan unless you mess with the ratio of water and gluten and, well, you may actually need to mess with the ratio of water and gluten. I always find I need to add a couple of splashes of H2O to get the right consistency.

Put all the stuff you need for seitan in a bowl. Knead it using a stand mixer or your own two hands for about a minute – just to make sure everything is nice and stretchy and springy. Your dough should not be too wet, nor should it be sticky; it should actually come off the sides of the bowl and your dough hook cleanly. The texture you're going for is kind of gelatinous. Very different from a bread dough.

Take the dough and lay it on a cutting board but put the knife away because you're not ready to cut it just yet! First, take a rolling pin and spend some time trying to flatten your dough out. You won't be able to – it's going to be springy and resilient – but a nice massage with the roller will help compress it so it's not all spongy and gross after it's cooked.

NOW cut it. I cut my seitan into strips about two inches long and a quarter in wide or roughly the size of the "Beefless Strips" you can buy at Trader Joe's because that's what I was trying to replicate. If you cut them any bigger, keep in mind that they are going to expand like crazy as they cook.

Boil in your cooking liquid for a good solid hour. A little more won't hurt, but make sure you give it all a stir now and then to dunk the floaters. And they will all be floaters. Note: When choosing the pot in which to do this, go big or go home because like I said these babies are going to plump up and you don't want to make the same mistake I did that resulted in a whole lot of burned crud on my gas range.

Drain in a colander for a minute or two, and then spread your already tasty looking homemade "Beefless Strips" (sorry, Trader Joe's) on a cookie sheet sprayed with baking spray. A little overlap is okay but try to make this happen in a single layer. Bake at 275F for… a while. Then flip 'em, and bake some more. You kind of have to judge the texture yourself.

I like my homemade seitan kind of dry to start with because I'm usually using it in saucy recipes. Maybe you like to just nibble on your seitan and would prefer it to be on the moist side. That's cool. It's your seitan, after all. Enjoy it!

P.S. - OMG you guys, Mom Meet Mom has forums now! And check out this awesome syndicated story about the site :)

P.P.S. - Welcome, my SITS Tribe ladies! Hope you have an awesome week!


  1. Hi Christa and thanks for the Tribe welcome! I have a family member with Celiac so wouldn't be going this route but am impressed that you can make your own meat substitute!

  2. True that it's not for the gluten-free set but still pretty cool to make! Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to getting to know you :)

  3. Hmm...not gluten-free here, and also not meat-free, but I actually love tofu. And I don't even think tofu is a great idea the way people used to think it was. And I'll try anything!
    Doesn't look bad at all. Looks quite good.

    1. Well, if you decide to try homemade seitan, it's a totally easy thing to make with little ones!

  4. HI Christa, I'm riveted to find out about 'seitan' because I've never heard of it before. Being a vegetarian, I'm always on the look out for good substitutes and get sick of Quorn. I think it sounds pretty good! I don't know if shops stock vital wheat gluten over here in the UK but if they do, I shall certainly try it.Thank you for the idea and also for your tribe welcome!

  5. Hi Christa, so nice to meet you and thanks for the warm SITS tribe welcome. Thanks too for schooling me on the ins and outs of Seitan. I've never tried it, but I kept seeing it mentioned on foodie sites. I don't know if I'll be trying to make it anytime soon- but if I do, I'm coming back for your recipe.

  6. Wow, I have never heard of seitan! Your food at the end looks yummy!

    {SITS tribe friend}

  7. You have me considering seitan...crazy right? I already do the veggie crumbles so I like hearing that this stuff is actually good. Thanks for the recipe! Tribe building!

    1. Honestly, I like these better than crumbles because they have a much cooler texture!

  8. Well, that's completely new to me! We don't eat a ton of meat so I may have to check this out! Thanks for the intro! Tribe building today! :)

    1. It's worth a try even if it ends up not being your thing!

  9. Hi Christa,
    I will definitely share this to my gluten free and my meat eating friends hahah well I will definitely share it to everyone especially my vegan peeps as it is hella pricey. Thank you so much for mastering the art of Seitan.
    PS I LOVE this post's title. I am not sure all will get it but I think its hysterical.
    Many Hugs,

  10. Kind of ugly looking but at the same time oh so appealing.
    I am trying to eat healthier by eating foods that I make..without all of those blasted fillers.
    We've been eating a lot of vegetarian meals and had no idea that this mock dock even existed. My husband will be really happy with that :)

  11. There is a shirt that says Hail Herbivore if I remember right. Wear it while you eat?

    I used to make this on occasion. I am a former vegan who kinda hates that I'm not still...but 'tis a story for another time. It's all ethical with me - it always was.

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  13. I think the difference is that the TJ's seitan is vegan


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