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Apr 7, 2009 04:00 PM

Seitan - How to get it meaty?

So, I'm a carnivore. I love the texture and taste of meat. A few years ago however I discovered Seitan (aka Wheat Meat) and it has become a good substitute for me when I want a slightly healthier choice.

But here's my problem: When I make Seitan at home, it never has the right meaty texture. It's always too spongy. I'm comparing it to the type of Seitan you can get at a Whole Foods salad bar, which has a chunky, meaty, firm texture, and which can pass for some kind of chicken loaf... and which frankly I rather like.

Now, there is one recipe for Seitan that -does- produce a meaty result, which is the infamous "Seitan O' Greatness" that can be found here:

That recipe IS quite good, and the seitan is suitably meaty, but it comes in a big, giant hot-dog shaped log. I'd really like to make some meat-chunk style bits, something that looks more like a chicken nugget or a small cutlet, but I can never replicate the same meatiness that I get from the Seitan O Greatness recipe.

Why do all other recipes result in a spongy, doughy seitan? The only difference between the other recipes I've found on the net and the Seitan O Greatness (barring some spices) is the fact that the S.O.G. is tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, which maybe is compressing the seitan and making it chunkier. Is this the secret? If so, is there another way to make seitan and somehow "press" it while it is baking?

Any help out there? Any links (with pictures would be great) would be most appreciated. Or any thoughts from Seitan experts. I follow recipes closely, but the S.O.G. is the only one that results in anything meatlike. But the promised land of Meaty Seitan is real, I've seen it at salad bars across the nation, and not in S.O.G. "super hotdog" form.

Any insights, fellow Chowhounds?

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  1. This won't answer your question entirely but I'll share how I make wheat meat. I don't make 'steaks' (tried the boil in stock as well as the baked approach) since I haven't found anything really appealing to me. Instead, I make a loaf weekly and then use it in a variety of ways - as cutlets, diced, sliced thin. I've used the recipe you cite but make it in thinner logs and season it with more sausage-like spices. It's a nice snack and a pizza topping.

    Since I've made a variety of spongy seiten logs myself, I've tried another approach, although I haven't perfected making it yet though!


    Vital wheat gluten
    Tofu (1/3 less then the VWG or so)
    Garbanzo bean flour (it makes the VWG proteins bond better per McGee)
    Umami (soy sauce, dried mushroom powder and/or tomato paste)
    Optional: Nutritional yeast, nuts, dried fruits, onions, shredded carrots, etc.
    Herbs and spices (this varies depending if I want 'chicken', latin, italian, etc)

    Mix the dry ingredients together. Food process the wet ingredients including the tofu Bring the mixtures together. Add enough water to barely hold the loaf together. Knead for 10+ minutes until the loaf feels very smooth (like a pasta dough), cover and let rest for 30 min.

    Place in a loaf pan and add vegetable broth about 1/2 up the side. Put in a 375-400 oven. , After an hour, turn the loaf and add more liquid if needed. During cooking, the loaf will puff, it will be done when the loaf collapses and the liquid is absorbed. Let rest (it's better cooled and then reheated).

    Notes: make your own vegetable stock if possible - it just tastes better and you can add some kombu for more umami. If you use prepared stock, put it cold in a pan, add a piece of kombu, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, discard the kombu, and use.


    You might want to try a pure VWG loaf and try cooking it in the same way, that might reduce the sponginess.

    Let me know if I can answer and questions and please let me know how you approach using VWG.

    2 Replies
    1. re: alwayscooking

      I may give that a shot.... might be another option. BUT, is the result "meaty" in texture??

      1. re: fr1p

        The texture is like meatloaf or, depending on the ingredients, like a Quoran loaf. It has texture and chew.

    2. Funny you should ask this question: just last night, I made two batches of seitan using different methods to be able to immediately compare.

      One recipe was rolled into thin cutlets and placed in very cold water with 2 T of miso, left to rest for 10 minutes, then slowly brought to a bare simmer for an hour.'

      The other was rolled into a log, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and dropped into rolling boil of a very flavorful broth (soy sauce, nutritional yeast, onions, bay leaves and poultry spice). Heat was lowered and simmered for an hour.

      I've been exploring seitan recipes for 4 years and now, apart from the seitan o greatness, I think that, totally by accident, I've found my go-to recipes.

      The cold start recipe gave me a chicken like texture, complete with layers and fibers and everything when I pulled it apart. This might be what you are looking for with nuggets.

      The second rolling boil recipe gave me what I would think vegans would take as a salisbury steak texture (I'm not vegan or vegetarian. Like you, I just enjoy the taste) between a solid steak and hamburger.meatloaf type. If you have ever been to New World in Woodstock, this perfectly replicated the texture of their cornmeal crusted jerk steak. It would also be good for country fried steak and the like.

      As for your theory about wrapping, some vegan chefs do wrap their seitan in cheesecloth before dropping it in the broth. It helps compress the dough and prevents that "brainy" texture from appearing on the outside of the seitan. Check out these videos:

      2 Replies
      1. re: soleilnyc

        In either of the methods you used, did you actually get a brainy texture on the outside like you describe, or did your methods also prevent that? Thanks again!

        1. re: fr1p

          Hi! A year later and I see I never responded to you! I hope your seitan experiments have worked out well since. No, I did not get the brainy texture in either of these methods. I think that was a result of my kneading, though.
          I have also since discovered yet another method: steaming. I shape thin cutlets, then sandwich them between two plates facing the same way (to weigh down the cutlets, as opposed to making a dome). I place the whole thing in the steamer and leave it for about 20 mins. Great texture as well, and less waste on the boiling broth front!

      2. Revisiting an old thread but I've been playing around with seitan lately so...

        I think you've gotten some good answers. Here's a different way to attack the SOG, though - how about using a pate mold and then slicing the results? Or even easier, what I do is slice the SOG log and then quarter the slices for faux wings.

        A lot of stuff I've seen on salad bars is not seitan at all but canned mock duck which is closer to tofurkey (which has gluten but may also be mostly soy depending on the brand).. Some of the stir-fried stuff I've seen on salad bars is seitan of the spongier variety but stir-frying takes care of the oogy texture as it tightens up when exposed to high heat.

        For shapes of a sort I make the SOG, slice into batonnets and bake in my own hot gingery mustardy bbq type sauce. But mostly it's sandwich stuff sliced thinly with lettuce and Holy Land Garlicy Hummos.

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