Wheat gluten, from which seitan is made, is a high-protein food, similar to meat in texture, making it an alternative protein for vegetarians and vegans. Seitan, which is prepared in soy sauce or tamari, is sometimes called "wheat meat." Like tofu, seitan is a traditional protein source in many Asian cuisines. A simple marinade is all you need to transform the relatively bland starting form of wheat gluten into the more flavorful seitan.
Pour about one-third as much soy sauce or tamari as you need to submerge your wheat gluten into a glass baking dish. Soy sauce and tamari are both made from fermented soybeans and are similar in color and taste. Tamari is thicker and richer, and less salty than soy sauce. Use tamari for your marinade base if you don't want an extremely salty dish.
Add enough olive or peanut oil to the soy sauce or tamari to cover the wheat gluten. Stir them together gently. Peanut oil is a more traditional pick for East Asian-style cuisines.
Season the marinade with complementary herbs and spices you like, adding them to taste. Some minced garlic and ginger work well, while mustard powder can add a kick. Chives, lemon grass and Thai basil are other good options often used in Asian dishes.
Submerge the wheat gluten in the marinade. Cover the baking dish securely with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.
Soak your seitan in the marinade for 20 to 30 minutes. Don't go leave it longer, or the marinade flavors will end up overpowering the dish.
Sweet and Spicy Seitan Sandwich
Make a sweet, spicy marinade for a sandwich by mixing 1/4 cup each of tamari and brown sugar. Stir in 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced, along with 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard. Marinate the seitan for a hour or so, then saute it in some of the liquid. Serve on toasted hoagie rolls with sauerkraut or coleslaw and a spicy sandwich mustard.
- If the wheat gluten isn't fully submerged in the marinade, turn it over halfway through the marinating period.
- Because marinade contains an acidic ingredient -- in this cause soy sauce or tamari -- don't marinate in a metal dish. Glass dishes work best, but an alternative is to soak the seitan in the marinade in a sealable plastic bag. Just flip the whole bag over in the middle of the marinating to ensure complete coverage.
Eric Mohrman is a food and drink, travel, and lifestyle writer living with his family in Orlando, Florida. He has professional experience to complement his love of cooking and eating, having worked for 10 years both front- and back-of-house in casual and fine dining restaurants. He has written print and web pieces on food and drink topics for Orlando Style Magazine, CrushBrew Magazine, Agent Magazine, Dollar Stretcher Magazine, The 863 Magazine and other publications.