How to Make Seitan Like a Pro

While living in Chicago, I attended a cooking demo at Native Foods, a vegan restaurant chain. I never pass up an opportunity to attend a free cooking demo because every time I learn something new. The Native Foods chef taught us how to make several recipes, including seitan—a meat alternative made from vital wheat gluten.

I’ve made seitan many times. The first recipe I learned was from a cooking class also in Chicago. It was good, but this Native Foods recipe is better. The first time I made it, I followed the regular recipe as is. I’ve attached a PDF of the handout from the demo below. You will see that the chef provides a couple of different spice combinations to change the flavor profile. You can adapt the recipe for a spicy Mexican dish or Swedish meatballs.

I had been wanting to make a summer sausage seitan for years and now I had a solid base recipe to use as a starting point. We ate summer sausage a lot when I was growing up and I remembered I liked the seasoning (as well as the fat and salt). This summer sausage seitan recipe is much healthier–lower fat and sodium content, not to mention no cholesterol.

Before we started cooking, we opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed it with homemade nut cheese and chips.

Before we started cooking, we opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed it with homemade nut cheese and chips.

This past summer my husband took some of his colleagues to Native Foods while they were in Chicago for a conference. Alex, who is from France but lives in San Francisco, loved the food and enjoyed the meat-like dish he ordered. So, my husband offered up my services and invited Alex and his girlfriend, Nazanin, for dinner, where I would teach them to make seitan. It was a fun evening and I can’t think of a better way to introduce omnivores to vegan food. We made enough seitan so they could take some home. At the end of this post, you can see what they made back in their own kitchen. Seitan is a versatile meat alternative that you can use in a variety of dishes.

Summer Sausage Seitan (say-tan)

Adapted from Native Foods’ Homemade Seitan recipe

To start, make the broth to cook the dough in:

Broth

For the broth, start by filling a large stock pot with water, 2/3 of the way full. Then add:

  • 1 c Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Bring the broth up to a boil and reduce to a simmer for cooking the seitan.

Dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients.

Seitan
Makes two rolls

  • 2 c vital wheat gluten
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 c vegetable stock (low sodium)
  • 1/2 c Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (or ground cayenne pepper)
  • 1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 drops liquid smoke (optional)*
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cooking twine
  • Skewers

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, chili powder, mustard seeds, black pepper, onion powder and coriander. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, add the vegetable stock, Bragg’s, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and liquid smoke, if used. Whisk together.

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Kneading the dough.

Little by little, add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the dry mixture is moist. You may need to add a little water to combine the ingredients, but you don’t want the mixture to be wet. Once the mixture is well combined, knead the dough with your hands for 3-4 minutes.

Divide the dough into two equal size pieces. Using your hands, roll into two loaves.

Tightly wrap each loaf in cheese cloth cut-to-size, tie up each end with kitchen twine, and then stick a skewer through each roll.

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Using tongs, place each roll in the pot of simmering broth. Cover the pot halfway with a lid so the steam can escape. Simmer for 45 minutes, turn off the heat and let the seitan sit in the pot for an additional 15 minutes with the lid off. Using the tongs, lift each roll out of the pot and take the skewers out to make sure the rolls are well cooked. The skewers should come out clean (like using a toothpick to test a cake). If done, remove the cheesecloth immediately. (If you need to cook the seitan longer, try simmering in 3-5 minute intervals.)

*I have made this recipe with and without liquid smoke. Either way is great. If using liquid smoke concerns you, learn more about the potential risks here.

Native Foods Seitan Recipe

Once the seitan was done, we made pizza for dinner. It was a group effort. We made the dough using our bread maker. I like to chop the seitan into chunks and pan fry for a few minutes in a bit of vegetable oil. In addition to the seitan, the pizza included our homemade tomato sauce, three kinds of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and Daiya cheese.

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Daiya cheese is my preferred cheese alternative. It melts and has a good flavor. I suggest trying several vegan cheese options to find your favorite. There are many on the market but some melt better than others. While eating dinner, Alex and Nazanin wondered what in the heck was in the cheese and then asked what was wrong with eating dairy. Read this post on why vegans don’t eat dairy.

Daiya Cheese ingredients: Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, vegan natural flavors, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral).

As I mentioned, Alex and Nazanin took a roll of summer sausage home. They made Bolognese sauce with it. Before adding the seitan to the sauce, he turned it into “ground beef” using a blender. He calls it The Seitanic Pasta.

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