An easy recipe for homemade seitan, also known as seasoned wheat gluten. A versatile vegetarian and vegan meatless protein that can be used in stir-fries, curries, and beyond! (Recipe times do not include rest time.)
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is softened slightly.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the sweet paprika and other spices to the pan, stir, and cook for 60 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
Use a spatula to transfer the onion-garlic mixture, including oil, to a blender or food processor. Add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, soy sauce if using, chickpea flour, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. (Raw chickpea flour tastes terrible so I don't recommend sampling this).
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the vital wheat gluten, then stir until evenly combined. Once stirred, use your hands to knead the mixture until it becomes more firm and a little bit springy, about 2 minutes. Do note that this will feel wetter and moister than many other seitan recipes, due to the fact that we are steaming it rather than boiling it. The dough will be quite loose and moist, so this won't feel similar to kneading bread.
Prepare boiling water and a steamer (see notes for a description of my setup). Be sure to add plenty of water since this will be steaming for a long time. Form the dough into a vaguely log-shaped blob and then roll it up tightly in a piece of tinfoil, twisting the ends tightly. Depending on the size and shape of your steamer, you may need to separate it into two pieces.
Once the water is boiling, steam the wrapped gluten dough for 1 hour, carefully flipping it over halfway through (I use tongs).
Let the cooked seitan cool to room temperature, then unwrap it and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. For best results, slice the seitan as needed for recipes rather than pre-slicing it. The homemade seitan in log form will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
STEAMER SETUP: I don't own a bona fide steamer. I use a mesh colander placed over boiling water in my regular ole' saucepan, and then cover it with the usual lid for that saucepan. That doesn't give me a lot of space, so rather than challenge myself to roll one perfectly shaped seitan log, I split mine into two.
SEASONING BLEND: If you keep any all-purpose seasoning blends around, use them here. I still had leftover blackening seasoning from my blackened chickpeas so I used that this time. In the past I've also used berbere, Old Bay, jerk seasoning, Trader Joe's 12 Seasoning Salute, etc. in this recipe. An equal mix of garlic and onion powder would also work well.
SALT LEVEL: If you use unsalted vegetable broth and omit the soy sauce, increase the salt to 1/2 tsp. Reduce the salt a little bit if your seasoning blend includes salt; mine does not.
FREEZING: The steamed and cooled seitan freezes well for 3-4 weeks. I have not yet tried freezing it for longer.