Seitan makes up one third of our meat analogue (meat substitute) trinity, the other two being tofu and tempeh, all three being Asian in origin.
But the question again comes to, what is seitan anyway?
Well we already know it’s a meat analogue, but while tofu is curdled soy milk, and tempeh is fermented soybeans, seitan is made from extracting the gluten from wheat by washing the flour and rinsing away the starch.
The gluten powder is then mixed with enough water to make a stiff paste, and then kneaded until it forms a firm, stringy texture.
The dough can then be cut to shape in blocks, strips, pieces, and so on, and be cooked via steaming, boiling, frying, or other methods.
Also like the other meat analogues, seitan doesn’t host a punch of flavor by itself, but because of its variability in sizes and shapes, cooking methods, and flavor absorbing ability, you have one versatile food.
Many cultures also use it in even more creative ways, such as mixing the gluten with rice flour or millet, and baking it into breads, buns, and other foods.
It is also important to say, though, that the availability of seitan is typically less convenient and wide spread as either tempeh or tofu.
Some areas have this in health stores and whole food stores quite easily, but some areas you may be hard pressed to find it out of an Asian grocer, or online.
Of the three meat analogues, seitan wins out easily in protein content, packing an impressive 26 grams of protein per 4oz.
While lacking any substantial amount of fat or carbohydrates.
While seitan is the meat analogue that does not actually cover all your essential amino acids adequately (low in lysine), it is a great choice for packing in a large amount of versatile protein into a diet that is lacking.
And the one amino acid deficiency in this item can easily be shored up by including beans, or the other meat analogues in your diet.
There is one important point of caution with seitan, however.
Celiacs, and other people with moderate to severe gluten sensitivity will need to avoid it entirely or suffer anything from varying degrees of intense discomfort, digestive disability, to severe emergency situations.
Those with less severe gluten sensitivities may be able to consume some amounts of seitan, but it should probably still be avoided.
Either way, if you are gluten sensitive, or may be (many people are and just never know that they are, and suffer for it!), try it out in small amounts and slow and take note of how it affects you.
All in all seitan is a very dense and healthy source of protein for the vegan, vegetarian, or macrobiotic diet practitioner.
Just make sure you mix up your protein sources to ensure you get the full range of essential amino acids!