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Serves: 4

You may have seen wheat gluten in the "healthy" refrigerated section of grocery stores, alongside tofu, or on the menu of vegetarian or vegan restaurants. It's also variously known as "wheat meat" or by its brand names (Tofurky), while in several countries in Asia, it is known as miàn jīn, mien chin, mien ching, mì căng and names ... and has been eaten for quite a long time. Seitan, the name by which it is most known in the US owing to its popularization by proponents of the macrobiotic diet, is believed to have originated in China. Seitan, though not really similar tasting to tofu, is like tofu in that you can use it in many different ways - just like you might with meat. Making seitan from scratch is a bit of a time-consuming process, but in many ways very simple, as well. The goal is to separate the starch from the gluten in the flour through kneading and rinsing. And though 8 cups of flour sounds like a lot, when the starch portion of the flour washes away, you're not left with an overwhelming amount of seitan.


  • 8 cups of whole wheat flour (or you can experiment with a combination of whole wheat flour and gluten flour)
    4 cups of water

    Seitan Cooking Broth:
    1 piece of kombu (Kombu is edible kelp also called dasima or haidai)
    2 thin slices of peeled ginger
    1/4 cup of soy sauce
    4-5 cups of water

    Simple Seitan Saute:
    dash of soy sauce
    dash of sesame oil
    1 cup onion, chopped
    1 cup green onion, chopped


  • In a large bowl or cooking pan, mix the water in bit by bit into the flour. When you've got a good, doughy consistency, knead 30-40 times. (Flour your hands to prevent sticking).
    Cover the dough ball well with a wet towel and set aside for about 45 minutes.
    Then, remove the wet towel and knead again about 30 times.

    Place the dough ball in a bowl and cover with cold water. Start *gently* kneading the dough ball in the water. The water will start to get milky and white, because the starch is being released from the dough ball. Rinse the water (some people save this water for use as a thickener in stocks, etc).
    Fill the bowl with warm water this time, and repeat the kneading/draining process ... rinsing when the water turns milky. In the beginning, the water will turn milky immediately, so you might just want to knead the ball under the faucet, alternating between warm and cold water. As the starch rinses off and the ball becomes stretchier, start pulling and stretching the ball instead of kneading it.

    Repeat this process (anywhere from 10 - 20 times) until the following is true: the water runs clear (no more starch to rinse off) and the ball is a stretchy/shiny and firm. This may take some time.

    At this point, you're done! You can either cook it now, or refrigerate it to cook later. I prefer forming the gluten into shapes (balls, in this example) and cooking it in the Seitan Cooking Broth above, which gives it a nice base flavor, even if you plan on using it in another dish.

    To cook the seitan, simply bring all the broth ingredients to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for about 1 hour. Remove from the broth and either use in a dish immediately or refrigerate.

    For a simple saute - slice the seitan balls into thin strips. Bring a non-stick pan to medium-high heat with a dash of sesame oil. Toss in the onions and green onions and let them scorch a little ... add the seitan, flipping frequently. Lastly, splash some soy sauce on top and remove from heat when the sauce is evaporated. Serve. Recipe adapted from asiansupper.com

Seitan wheat meat

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