In its most basic form seitan or vegan meat can be made from only 2 ingredients; wheat flour and water. If you want to pump up the flavour and really start to make some mock meat or delicious vegetarian protein you’ll need a few extra ingredients in the pantry.
In this article we will look at some special seitan ingredients along with other vegan meats with a few things in mind:
The ingredients below will allow you to closely replicate different cuts and varieties of meat and they are available in most supermarkets or online.
Ingredients To Make Super Tasty Seitan
When it comes to stocking the pantry with ingredients to pack in flavour to your seitan and mock-meat recipes you find you’ll be relying on the same set of ingredients time and again.
Having a few powerfully flavoured, umami-rich staples in the cupboard will form the backbone of the added flavour to your seitan. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ingredients to help you replicate meaty flavours, colours and textures.
Vital Wheat Gluten
We need some form of gluten to make seitan. You can make seitan with regular wheat flour or bread flour which most people already have on hand. The process of making seitan with flour is called “flour washing”
To make the process a whole lot easier we can use vital wheat gluten.
Vital wheat gluten (VWG) is sometimes called gluten flour or seitan flour, is a processed version of normal flour. It is made by kneading a dough made in the exact same way a bread dough is made. The dough is then soaked in water and kneaded to remove the starch. The resulting dough is predominantly the gluten or protein part of the wheat flour.
The dough is then dried and milled, the resulting flour is called vital wheat gluten.
VWG is typically around 80% gluten so there is a little starch left in the mixture but it enables us to really easily make seitan and incorporate all the flavours we want straight away.
Some people prefer the “wash the flour method” of making seitan and others prefer the convenience of making seitan with vital wheat gluten. I like to always have some in the cupboard so I have the freedom to prepare seitan with a little less effort.
Miso is a really potent ingredient when it comes to making seitan taste meaty and savoury. There are different varieties and colours of miso paste depending on what it is made from.
It is used as a kind of seasoning and a way to introduce umami flavour into dishes. Miso can be made from soybeans, chickpeas or barley and is fermented with aspergillus oryzae or koji which provides its unique flavour.
Stored in the refrigerator, miso has a shelf life of up to two years after opening.
Nutritional yeast is a species of yeast, typically saccharomyces cerevisiae, that is used in food. It has a unique savoury and flavour and is used a lot in vegan cheese making. It is particularly useful when making seitan as nutritional yeast is a complete protein providing all essential amino acids, whereas seitan is not quite a complete protein.
Nutritional yeast is sold in tubs in flakes or powdered form and is another flavour enhancer for making seitan.
Soy Sauce / Tamari
Soy sauce and tamari are big flavour enhancers and provide colour to seitan. Both soy and tamari are made from fermenting soybeans with tamari being slightly less salty.
Soy is another umami-rich ingredient that is high in glutamates, the amino acid found in all protein-rich foods.
Bacon, ham, burgers, sausages can all have a certain degree of smokiness to them depending on how they are cooked. Smoke is a very unique flavour compound. It would be very hard to produce in seitan which is often steamed and seared.
Fortunately, liquid smoke is a great way to incorporate smoky flavour into seitan or other vegan meats.
Liquid smoke is made from actual smoke, chips or sawdust are heated and burned at high temperature and the resulting smoke is then collected in condensers and the liquid reduced for a really potent smoky liquid.
You can buy hickory, mesquite and other hardwood smoke varieties and a little will go a long way. Just one or two teaspoons is enough to make a smoked bacon joint from seitan or tempeh.
Vegan Stock / Broth Powder
There is now a variety of vegan chicken or beef stock powders on the market that give a very good approximation of the meat-based counterpart.
These stocks are usually made from herbs, spices, autolyzed yeast and other natural flavourings. They are really useful for making any vegan meat-based recipe. They can be incorporated in powdered form to seitan dough or the mock meat can be simmered in the broth and take on flavour that way.
Tofu is used as a protein in its own right but it can also be used in seitan and other vegan meats for both texture and colour.
When added to seitan, tofu will produce a tender dough and also lighten the colour of the cooked seitan, which makes for nice tender chicken fillets. This is why tofu is often an ingredient of seitan-based chicken recipes.
When added to seitan the tofu is usually blended in a food processor to make a smooth paste and then added to vital wheat gluten.
Tofu can also be frozen and when thawed and cooked will produce a firmer, meteor texture.
Textured Vegetable Protein / TVP
Textured vegetable protein or TVP is a soy-based meat analogue. It is usually sold in granules or pieces that when cooked closely resemble ground or minced meat.
TVP is sold dehydrated and has a really long shelf life. As it is a granular texture it can be rehydrated and combined with other ingredients. With seitan, it can recreate the mouthfeel and texture of certain meats like burgers, meatloaf or sausage patties.
When buying textured vegetable protein it may be called TVP or TSP which stands for textured soy protein. Look for the mince or ground “meat” version rather than chunks which are more like diced meat.
Chickpea / Garbanzo / Gram Flour
Chickpea flour has a lot of names depending on where in the world you are. It can be called garbanzo, besan, gram or chickpea flour, but each one is the same and can be used interchangeably.
Chickpea flour is used to provide a smooth and firm texture to seitan. Think of ham and cold cuts which have a firm, dense texture.
Beet Powder – For Colouring Seitan
Beet powder is used for colour in mock meats. If you are trying to simulate beef or cured meats like salami which are red in colour a spoonful of beetroot powder acts as a colourant for your seitan or vegan meat.
Instead of using beet powder, you can also incorporate cooked beetroot that has been blended into your recipe and it will work just as well.
Herbs & Spices For Flavouring Seitan & Vegan Meats
Along with these seitan ingredients, the use of basic herbs and spices can really help to recreate the flavours of some meat products. Pepperoni and salami are highly spiced and using the same spices in out mock meats is essential to achieving the same flavour.
Having a well-stocked spice rack will be really helpful when making seitan and other vegan meat dishes.