One of my favorite vegan protein sources is seitan. Despite how the name sounds, seitan isn’t food of choice for satanic vegans, it’s actually a tasty meatless food made from wheat gluten. It’s pronounced as it looks – say-tan.
As a meat substitute, seitan isn’t quite as popular in mainstream cuisine as tofu yet. Maybe it’s because of its name, or perhaps it’s because people are a little unsure of what to do with it. It actually looks quite a bit like meat, and it can be used in recipes that might traditionally be made with beef or pork. It’s a good main dish option for those who might suffer from soy sensitivities, and it’s very high in protein, with 24 grams of it in just 4 ounces.
Seitan is sometimes called “wheat meat” and you may have even seen it on the menu in a Chinese restaurant listed simply as “gluten”. It’s usually served as veggie “beef” in vegan restaurants, and it’s the base of such meatless products as Field Roast’s vegan sausages and Tofurky’s Deli Slices. It can usually be found next to the tofu in the refrigerated section of just about any grocery store, or you can make it easily at home with vital wheat gluten, vegetable broth, and spices.
It is believed that consuming wheat gluten originated in ancient China by strict vegetarian Buddhist monks. Gluten remains a staple in Asian cooking today, and different types of it are now consumed, such as baked spongy gluten in China, dry baked gluten in Japan, and deep-fried gluten in Vietnam. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is believed that the word “seitan” was coined by George Ohsawa in the early 1960s. Ohsawa created the Japenese macrobiotic food movement around the same time, and seitan was first brought to the US from Japan in 1969.
Seitan is a delicious multi-purpose food. It can be simmered in stews, ground up and made into burgers, sliced and made into “cheese steaks”, and even fashioned into meatless sausages. I also love to make tacos and wraps with it.
Seitan Chimichurri Tacos – This dish has become a Taco Tuesday favorite in my house!
Seitan Gyros – Wheat meat, vegetables, and tahini wrapped in a whole wheat pita making a perfectly filling lunch!
Stout, Seitan and Cabbage Casserole – This dish has become a St. Patrick’s Day tradition in my house, but it’s terrific for any day of the year, really.
Slow Cooker Seitan Stew – Throw the ingredients for this stew in your slow cooker before you leave for work in the morning, and dinner will be waiting for you when you get home!
Seitan Skewers – These skewers are a perfect appetizer for parties, and they’re great for cookouts, too!
Soy-Lime Seitan Tacos with Mango – Taco Tuesday gets a fresh update with friend Jenna’s taco recipe.