Seitan originated in China and Japan more than 1,000 years ago.
Traditionally prepared by Zen Buddhists, it was used as a substitute for meat or fish. It comes from the Japanese words “sei,” meaning “to be, become, made of,” and “tan,” as in tanpaku, which means “proteins.”
Freely translated, it means: “made of proteins.”
It’s Made From Gluten
Seitan is the protein part of the wheat flour, also known as gluten or wheat gluten.
It comes from washing wheat flour dough with water to remove all the starch granules, leaving a sticky, insoluble gluten mass. The spices and flavorings come next, then cooked.
Trust me; it tastes much better than it sounds.
What Does It Taste Like?
By itself, seitan has little to no flavor at all.
It absorbs flavorings extraordinarily well and has a toothsome, chewy texture that is similar to animal meat. This toothy texture makes it an excellent choice for people who are looking for alternatives to the familiar foods of their pre-vegan days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some store-bought versions come packaged in broth. You can drain it if you want or not; it’s up to you.
These versions can be heavy on sodium, so be sure to taste it before adding it to recipes.
Yes! Gluten is not a water-soluble plant protein; it’s stretchy enough to cope with water crystals forming. So, go ahead and freeze without worry. Freezing either store-bought or homemade, with or without the broth, does not change its consistency or texture.
Preparation Tip: Get the thinnest slices possible using a serrated knife on partially frozen seitan roasts.
No. Because it contains gluten, it’s off-limits for anyone with Celiac Disease or who otherwise needs to be gluten-free.