Along with tofu, seitan is a popular meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. What is in wheat meat? And is it safe to access?
Whether for health reasons, for climate protection, or animal welfare: more and more people are giving up meat and opting for a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Meat substitutes made from seitan are becoming more and more popular, alongside tofu. Seitan is a good alternative, especially for those who no longer eat meat for ethical reasons, but do not want to do without a meat-like taste.
Prepared accordingly, it offers a comparable, similar al dente consistency. With the right seasoning and preparation, the so-called wheat meat can come pretty close to real meat. But it also offers a change from tofu for convinced vegetarians.
What is seitan?
Seitan has been used as a meat substitute in Japanese and Chinese cuisine for a thousand years, albeit under a different name.
The product became known worldwide through the co-founder of macrobiotic nutrition, Yukikazu Sakurazawa aka Georges Ohsawa. It was Ohsawa who gave the seitan its name.
How is the seitan made?
The production of seitan is relatively simple, but also somewhat time-consuming: First, the dough is kneaded from water and wheat flour. One kilogram of regular wheat flour and 750 milliliters of water yield around 250 grams of pure seitan.
Then the dough has to rest for some time, after which it is “washed out” and kneaded. In this way, starch is extracted from the mass until finally tough, sticky wheat protein remains.
If you want to save the process of washing out, you can use gluten flour right away. Then one kilogram of gluten flour yields one kilogram of seitan. Flour and water should be mixed in a ratio of 50:50.
How is the seitan prepared?
Seitan itself is tasteless. Once prepared, it should be stored in the fridge and will last about a week. As with tofu, there are some options and dishes.
Seitan can be used as a burger patty, serve as the main ingredient in vegan currywurst, or cut into strips in salads or soups. It can be roasted, baked, or fried. From seitan chicken to seitan schnitzel, almost any meat can be replaced with it.
The main thing: you marinate or season it properly. You can use smoked salt, paprika, or liquid smoke for this. Both committed vegetarians who don’t want anything to do with the taste of meat and meat eaters who long for burgers, schnitzel and the like will get their money’s worth with seitan.
Is seitan healthy?
Seitan has a very high protein content – 100 grams contain almost 30 grams of protein. However, this has a downside: The protein is not as well absorbed by our body as other proteins. However, it also offers another advantage over meat: it contains no cholesterol.
The meat substitute is also ideal for losing weight – 100 grams of seitan have only 150 calories. In addition, the fat content of wheat meat is very low. 100 grams of seitan also contain 5.2 milligrams of iron, 142 milligrams of calcium, and 25 milligrams of magnesium.
However, seitan is not necessarily healthy: apart from its high protein content, it offers no nutrients. If you buy wheat meat in a shop, you need to take a close look at the ingredients.
While raw seitan is low in carbohydrates, prepared meals may contain salt, sugar, and other added ingredients. It is also advisable to look for an organic seal – because, as with all food, there are large fluctuations in quality.
Who is the seitan not suitable for?
Seitan is not an option for everyone: Since it consists almost exclusively of gluten, people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease have to avoid it entirely.
Everyone else can consume wheat meat without hesitation – but in moderation and not daily due to its high gluten content.