Seitan | Buddha’s Food

Origins:

Photo “Food Offering to a Monk” by http://www.dreamstime.com

Seitan (say-TAHN), lovingly called “Buddha’s Food”, has originated from the diets of Chinese Buddhist monks who were looking for meat alternatives other than tofu. It is said that they were making dough out of wheat and water when they noticed that the starch from the water-dough mixture turned a texture more similar to meat.* It has been around Asia for a long time, even called “Mock Duck” in Asian grocery stores in the US, but only started becoming popular among Americans due to the discovery made by the macrobiotic diet community (a community dedicated to eating whole, organic, and season-based foods).** It’s made from whole wheat gluten and is very high in protein but low in carbs and fat.***

NOTE: This post comes from my Seitan Gyro recipe. Check it out!

Time:
Chopping and mixing: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour

Ingredients:

You can use any spices to flavor it based on what dish you’re making – not just the ones listed below

  • 1c Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp dry parsley
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tsp soy sauce/paste
  • 1 tsp chili sesame oil

Directions:

First, preheat your oven to 400F.

Then, in a pot, add in 5c of vegetable broth (leave the other 3/4 for later), and the minced garlic and chopped onion into a pot on medium high heat to bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix the wheat gluten, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, dry parsley, cumin, paprika, and rosemary. I use this wheat gluten:

IMG_3774

In a separate bowl, mix 3/4c vegetable broth with hot chili sesame oil and soy sauce/paste.

Slowly mix the liquid mixure into the bowl of wheat gluten and spices until you get a firm, elastic-like ball. It will look lumpy, but that is how it is supposed to look.

IMG_3863

Keep mixing until you get this:

IMG_3864

Shape it into the shape you want it to be, usually a loaf shape, so you can make slices out of it. The mixture will be stiff, so don’t be afraid to get a little rough with it to get the shape you want.

Then, once the broth is boiling, put your loaf in the boiling broth and let boil for 45 minutes. Halfway through, you will need to flip it.

IMG_3867

This is what mine looked like after the 45 minute mark:

IMG_3778

Then, once you are done boiling it, put it in a dish with 2 tbsp of the veggie broth from the pot and put the loaf in and bake for about 15 minutes. This will make it a little more crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. This is after baking:

IMG_3779

And then I sliced it:

IMG_3780

And then, before serving, I pan fried a few slices for my gyro, so it would be crispy but tender in the middle:

IMG_3787

Should I buy local or organic?

The wheat gluten is hard to find, so buying Non-GMO is the best I could do. Also, it is the only brand I could find near my area. Garlic and onion can be bought locally, but otherwise, do the cheapest option.

How many does it serve?

This recipe makes one large loaf of seitan that can be thinly sliced and serve many people

What does this pair well with?

This is a versatile meat substitute. Use it for barbeques, hearty sandwiches, gyros, and anything else you can think of that requires a meaty texture!

How long can it last?

Seitan can last for weeks in the fridge, but I recommend slicing thinly and freezing it for when you want it- it will last way longer. When using it from the freezer, let it defrost, and then pan fry to make it crispy.

*History of Soy in China and Taiwan by  William Shurtleff, H.T. Huang, Akiko Aoyagi (Page 2088).
**http://www.macrobiotics.co.uk/foodlist.htm
***http://wheres-the-meat.blogspot.com/2007/02/i-promised-several-posts-back-to-post.html
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