Best vegetarian


MAKES: 4 to 6 servings (1 to 11/2 pounds)

TIME: About 11/2 hours, largely unattended

The first time you make seitan is shocking: The dough comes together almost instantly, is astonishingly elastic, and is very easy even fun to work. It’s important to knead it thoroughly, either by hand or by machine, and to let the dough rest before forming the loaves. To finish the seitan, prepare either the Dark or the Golden Simmering Liquid and follow the directions here.

1 cup vital gluten flour

1 recipe Dark or Golden Simmering Liquid for Seitan

Put the vital gluten flour in a large bowl. Or, if you’re mixing and kneading by machine, put it in a food processor fitted with the short plastic blade or in the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Add 3/4 cup water and mix until it is all absorbed. Knead (by hand or machine) for a minute or two. If loose flour remains, add a couple more drops of water, but be careful not to add too much. The dough should be one big, slightly rubbery mass. Continue kneading right in the bowl by hand for 5 minutes or so, by mixer for a couple of minutes, or by food processor for just 30 seconds or so. Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest for at least 20 minutes but no more than 30. Meanwhile, mix up either the Dark or the Golden Simmering Liquid in a large pot with a lid.

Pull or cut the dough into 2 equal portions. Stretch, pull, and roll the dough into 2 logs. (Don’t worry; they’ll plump considerably.) Set them in the simmering liquid and bring to a boil. (It’s okay if they aren’t submerged.)

Lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently and cover. Cook, using tongs to turn the seitan once or twice, for about an hour. Test by cutting a slice off the end with a knife, and if you want it a little less dense, cook another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool in the liquid before storing or using.

5 Seasonings for Seitan Dough

Combine any of these ingredients with the vital gluten flour and salt called for in the recipe before adding water. You can use them alone or in combination, but don’t use more than 1/4 cup total.

  1. Toasted wheat germ
  2. Whole wheat flour
  3. Seasoning blends, like any curry or chili powder (to make your own, see Chili Powder)
  4. Chopped or pulverized nuts
  5. Chopped or pulverized dried sea greens, such as kombu, arame, or wakame