Introduction: Wheat Gluten (Seitan) From Wheat Flour

Wheat Gluten (also called Seitan) is rich in protein with a texture similar to meat. Here I will teach you how to extract Gluten from wheat flour. It's fun and easy to make and the result is tender with a clean neutral flavor. It easily absorbs any flavors you add to it, so it is very versatile. You can use it in any recipe instead of meat. In fact, it is often called Wheat Meat.

My Gluten from wheat flour is superior in taste and texture to Gluten made from a commercial Vital Wheat Gluten quick mix, which can taste bitter and have a dry, tough texture.


Flour - Bread flour and Whole Wheat flour is preferred, but All Purpose flour also works
Clean cool water

Large deep bowl or pot
Strainer (optional)
Small frying pan (preferably non-stick)
Steamer or Improvised Steamer or medium pot (depends on cooking method -- see Step 6)

Step 1: Make the Dough (knead 5 Minutes)

To get 8 ounces of Gluten (enough for 3 to 4 servings):
Use 4 cups Bread flour and 2 cups water,
or use 2 cups Bread flour and 2 cups Whole Wheat flour and 2 cups water,
or use 4 cups of All Purpose flour and 2 cups water (see Note).

Note: Bread flour and Whole Wheat flour are preferred because they are high in Gluten. If you don't have them, you can use regular All Purpose flour, but it will result in less Gluten, maybe only 4 to 5 ounces.

Mix the flour with half as much water to make a firm dough. I used 3 cups Bread flour and 1 cup Whole Wheat flour.
Knead it well for at least 5 minutes, adding additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Kneading the dough develops the Gluten, so don't skimp on the kneading.

Step 2: Soak the Dough (30 Minutes)

Place the dough in a large deep dish (or pot). Add cold water to completely cover the dough and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.
Note: Let it soak longer if you have small or weak hands or fingers. Overnight soaking in the refrigerator is ideal for you; it will soften the dough and it will be easier on your hands. When you remove it from the refrigerator, change the water to cool water.

Step 3: Wash the Dough (15 to 20 Minutes)

Place the bowl or pot in the sink. Using both hands, under the water surface, manipulate and squeeze the dough bit by bit between your fingers. Keep "washing" it in this way -- the dough will feel gummy and it will be a little hard to handle at first. You are washing out the starch. The water will turn milky white. Eventually you will notice an interesting change in the dough. It will gradually amalgamate itself into a tight elastic ball -- this is the Gluten. It will also change color from white to slightly yellow/beige. If you use Whole Wheat flour in your dough (as I have), you will note wheat germ in the dough and in the water. Most of it will wash out.
Using the strainer if you have one, dump the milky water, add more water, and continue to wash the dough. If you are not using a strainer, dump the water slowly and carefully -- you don't want to discard bits of gluten down the sink.
Repeat washing until the water remains almost clear instead of milky white. This may take 3 or 4 water changes and 15 to 20 minutes (once you are experienced). What's left of the dough is your Gluten.
Dump the water and give the Gluten 2 dozen additional squeezes.

Step 4: Let the Gluten Rest (30 Minutes)

Place the Gluten on a plate and let it rest for 30 minutes to allow it to expel surplus water. Pour the water off as it accumulates. After resting it will have collapsed. It's now flat and very sticky.

Step 5: Pan Fry the Gluten (approximately 10 Minutes)

Fry the Gluten in a frying pan (preferably non-stick) with a little oil, on a Medium flame, about 5 minutes just until it gets a little crusty. Then flip it and repeat on the other side. The frying eliminates the surface stickiness for the next cooking step.

Step 6: Cook the Gluten (30 Minutes)

Use a steamer or make an improvised steamer (a pot or pan filled with a few inches of water and a smaller inverted heat-proof bowl or plate to elevate the Gluten above the water), bring the water to a boil, place the Gluten in the steamer, cover the pot, and cook the Gluten 15 minutes on each side. Add water if needed -- don't let the steamer run dry.

Note: If you prefer, you may lightly boil the Gluten instead, for 30 minutes. You don't need to flip it, just keep it ssubmerged. I prefer it steamed, but simmering is less of a hassle if you don't have a steamer.

Step 7: Cool and Store the Gluten

Let the Gluten cool, then use it or store it in a covered container in the refrigerator until needed. It will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator. After a week, simmer the Gluten in water for about 5 minutes, then cool and refrigerate it again. Gluten can also be frozen, in a freezer bag, for up to a week.

Step 8: Done! Use It in a Meal

Use the Gluten in any recipe instead of meat. Remember, the Gluten is already cooked, so it doesn't require additional cooking. However, you can pan fry it for a crispy texture. Some suggestions:
• Cut it into thin strips and use in a stir fry. I added one third of my Gluten to a stir fry with tofu, broccoli, red bell peppers, and onions and served it over brown rice.
• Chop it finely (by hand or in a chopper) and use in chili or red sauces. Pan fry, add Mexican spices, and use it like ground meat in nachos, tacos, burritos.
• Cut it into chunks and use in a stew or casserole.
• Slice it, bread it, and fry as cutlets.

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