The BBC Good Food logo
Seitan chicken served in a frying pan

Seitan

By
A star rating of 3.3 out of 5.8 ratingsRate
loading...
Magazine subscription – Try your first 5 issues for only £5
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • More effort
  • Serves 4-6

Make your own vegan protein with this tasty alternative to chicken. Use in stir fries or deep-fry in batter until crispy. Serve with your favourite sides

  • Freezable
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
Nutrition: Per serving (6)
NutrientUnit
kcal211
fat5g
saturates1g
carbs6g
sugars1g
fibre2g
protein35g
salt1.43g
Advertisement

Ingredients

  • 250g firm tofu
  • 150ml unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 2 tsp Marmite
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 160g wheat gluten
  • 40g pea protein or vegan protein powder
  • 1½ litres vegetable stock

Method

  • STEP 1

    Blitz the tofu, soy milk, miso, Marmite, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp white pepper in a food processor until smooth.

  • STEP 2

    Tip into a bowl and add the wheat gluten and pea protein or protein powder. Mix to form a dough. Once the dough has come together, give it a really good knead, stretching and tearing for 10-15 mins. It will be ready once the dough feels springy.

  • STEP 3

    Pour the vegetable stock into a pan. Bring to a simmer. Flatten out the seitan to a thickness of 1cm and chop into chicken-breast-sized chunks. Simmer these in the stock for 20 mins, covered with a lid, then allow to cool in the stock. Ideally, do this the day before and leave to chill in the fridge. The seitan chunks can also be frozen if you wish. When you’re ready to use the seitan in a recipe, pat it dry with kitchen paper then chop or tear into smaller pieces before cooking, if you like.

What is seitan?

Seitan (or wheat gluten) is pure gluten, vegetarian protein, extracted from several types of wheat flour by a kneading and rinsing process, after which it is boiled for some time before use. Sometimes called wheat meat, it has been used for many centuries as a vegetarian substitute for meat and fish throughout China, Japan and some neighbouring countries.

Seitan is somewhat flavourless and different processes can make it everything from slightly chewy to lightly puffed. It comes in pieces, larger blocks and powder form. It has the useful quality of easily absorbing other flavours, particularly from robust sauces and stews. It is sometimes flavoured and might be found as an ingredient in many commercial vegetarian and vegan products.

Seitan is high in protein and some nutrients, but it is important to note that, because seitan is made from grain, it is not a full dietary substitute for the protein of meat, milk and milk products and eggs. It contains gluten so is not suitable for coeliacs or people suffering from gluten intolerance.

How is seitan made?

Wheat is made up of starches, bran and gluten, wheat gluten has a stretchy, elastic property; it’s what helps bread to rise and gives it its chewy texture.

There are two ways to make seitan:

  1. Start by mixing wheat flour with water to make a dough and then wash the dough in cold water to remove the starch, leaving behind the gluten. This can be kneaded and stretched to give it a stringy texture much like meat.
  2. Ground wheat gluten is mixed with other ingredients to add bulk (such as tofu or chickpea flour) and flavour (such as herbs and miso paste). This mixture is also kneaded to give it the right texture.

Both methods give seitan that needs to be pre-cooked by simmering. It can then be recooked in your recipe. 

Tips for making seitan from scratch

  • To give your seitan a bit more flavour try adding something like dried sage, dried onions, garlic powder, miso paste or soy sauce to the water, so when you combine it you’re left with an umami flavour.
  • When kneading you can put the mixture into a stand mixer with a paddle, it does a great job kneading for around 10 mins. Or you can knead it by hand but it will take a little long, a tip is to bash it with a rolling pin as it helps flatten it, making it easier to knead.
  • Wrapping the raw seitan in chunks into baking parchment and then foil allows it to steam in the water bath.
  • Always leave your seitan to rest, ideally overnight in the fridge, this will give it time to firm up and will be easier to slice and provide a more meat like texture.
  • Using a dough scraper will help clean your surface after kneading the seitan.
  • Remember that seitan expands once cooked so when wrapping it to be cooked leave a little space, or if steaming then leave some space between them in the steamer.

Can you freeze seitan?

Yes, you can freeze seitan. Simply chop it into portions, wrap tightly and freeze for up to 6 months. To thaw leave it to defrost in the fridge for 4 – 5 hours.

How to use seitan

Seitan can be used to replace chicken in many recipes - a good substitute for veggies and vegans. Add it to pasta dishes, curries, wraps or try one of these recipes:

Seitan and black bean stir-fry
Kentucky-fried seitan

Goes well with

Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 3.3 out of 5.8 ratings
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content