Seitan [pronounced say-TAN] was first developed by Chinese Buddhists in the seventh century as a vegetarian alternative to meat. It was popularized in Japan cuisine when the Japanese developed the process of simmering it in soy sauce and seasonings.
So what is it? Seitan is a wheat gluten product, which becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of cooked meat. Sometimes referred to as “wheat meat” or “mock meat”, seitan is a popular high protein source for vegetarians. In addition to protein, it is a good source of iron and although not fat-free, it is low in fat and carbohydrates.
Seitan is a wonderful replacement for meat in recipes such as fajitas, chow mein, or crockpot stew. I like to cut it into ¼-inch slices, grill it for 2 minutes on each side and then use it in sandwiches, wraps, and my breakfast scramble recipe. Here’s how I use it for appetizers.
Seitan Marinade Ingredients:
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup sweetened rice wine (such as Mirin)
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons Sriracha (plus extra for garnish)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (finely minced)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1¼ cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons Tamari
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Seitan Broth Ingredients:
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup Tamari
2 tablespoons fresh ginger (grated)
Additional Ingredients for Assembly:
Baby asparagus (cut into 3-inch long spears)
Toasted Sesame Seeds (for garnish)
Plain wooden toothpicks
Seitan, Assembly and Grilling:
Preheat grill to 550 degrees.
Place all of the seitan marinade ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the seitan cutlets, combine gluten, yeast, garlic and ginger. Stir to mix. In a separate bowl, combine vegetable stock, tamari, and sesame oil. Add to gluten mixture all at once and mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough, knead it 10 to 15 times. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. Let it rest another 15 minutes. Cut gluten into 8 cutlets.
To make the seitan broth, use a 6-quart Dutch oven or other large pot. Combine 4 cups water with Better Than Bouillon, Tamari, and ginger. Bring the broth to a boil. Add 4 cutlets at a time or they will stick together. Cover and simmer in broth for 40 – 45 minutes on low heat. Remove from broth and add the other 4 cutlets. Cook in the same broth for 40 – 45 minutes.
Seitan may be stored in an airtight container in the refer or frozen for subsequent use. One more thing…seitan tastes way better than it looks!
Slice the seitan into long “rollupable” strips that are about 1/8-inch thick. Place strips on a cutting board (or on parchment paper is using the kitchen counter). Brush with a little marinade and then put one of the short asparagus spears at one end of each strip.
Roll each of the seitan strips around the asparagus and secure with a toothpick or two. Make sure that the toothpicks pierce the asparagus and that they are going in the same direction (so they will grill without interference from the toothpick). Brush with additional marinade. Brush heated grill with oil and grill rollups for two minutes. Carefully turn the rollups and grill for another two minutes.
Transfer rolls to a serving plate. Drizzle with leftover marinade, a touch of Sriracha, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve while still warm.