What is Seitan and How Do You Eat It?
Maybe you’ve heard this word, ‘seitan’, spoken around you but you don’t know what it is. If you’d like to find out, then read on and decide if you want to try it.
I ate a lot of meat and meat-based things during the holidays and I think that my body is exhausted. So I’ve decided to let it go a little for the next few weeks and focus on a more vegetarian, plant-based, outlook. But what do I do if I am a carnivorous person who just really enjoys the texture and taste of various types of meat? Well, I will have some seitan.
What is it, you might ask? Let me just say this: it’s also called ‘wheat meat’, ‘gluten’, ‘wheat gluten’ or ‘wheat protein’. So yeah, it is a substitute for meat, made out of wheat. I feel like the temptation is high for me to write this article in rhymes from now on, but I will try to refrain myself from that. So let’s move on.
Avoid if on a gluten-free diet
Seitan has a surprisingly similar texture and looks to those of meat and it is used in a few products you might find in the shop. You might ask yourself: but does it have any nutritional value? And the answer is yes, it does. Like meat, it is pretty high in protein. One ounce (33 grams) gives you about 21 grams of protein. It doesn’t have much fat (half a gram per ounce), and it’s low-carb (4 grams per ounce).
Of course, you cannot have it if you are on a gluten-free diet, but other than that, seitan is a fair game for everybody.
So what to expect from ‘wheat meat’? First of all, the taste is savory and the meat it most resembles is chicken. It also has a similar taste to some types of mushrooms. But just like chicken, which is a bit bland, seitan can draw flavors from whatever you cook it with.
You can find seitan already prepared in health food stores or you can make it yourself using whole wheat flour or vital wheat gluten. How does this work? It involves getting rid of the starch in wheat and keeping the high-protein gluten.
But just like any other food you buy in the store, already wrapped, it might contain additives, extra sodium and all kinds of fillers. So if you get a taste for it, maybe you can try making it yourself, additive-free.
Cooking with seitan
If you don’t know how much you’ll like it, feel free to first seek it out at vegetarian restaurants and getting a taste on how it is prepared and what flavors it works with.
It can be an excellent spicy dish, you can turn it into steaks and grill it just like you would any piece of meat. Or you can slice it and use it in sandwiches with whatever fresh ingredients you like. It works as a topping on vegetarian pizza or as a part of Asian-inspired dishes.
If you want to use it in a meal, then you have to first apply heat to it. You can fry it in a pan and add some flavor with soy sauce, or you can simmer it with some spices to get a more tender version. You can add sauces to it after you’ve cooked it, you can brown it before adding some more ingredients and stir-fry them together. Another option is to use it as ‘meat’ in soups or stews.