Seitan: A Meat Substitute That’s Going Viral on TikTok (in a Good Way)

seitan meat alternative

Nowadays, if you’re not on TikTok, you really are missing out. We have dieticians taking down diet culture, hacks for better sleep, workout options, and ways to keep your vegetables fresher for longer. And now, a two-ingredient, vegan substitute for chicken is going viral on the platform — it’s called seitan.

Seitan is made out of wheat flour and water, and according to The Conversation, seitan has been a substitute for meat in Asian countries for centuries. The term was coined by George Ohsawa, in the early 1960s.

As for how it’s made? Tiktok dietician — yes, she’s a registered dietician — @nutritionbykylie, explains in a video that by mixing wheat flour and water, it develops strands of gluten which gives it that “meatier” texture. Rinsing the dough washes away the starch, and you’re left with “pure gluten protein”. After that, you can season and cook it.

The actual method takes a few more steps than that, however. TikTok user @futurelettuce, on a video that now has over 1.7 million likes, shows that first, you mix flour and water (he does it at a 2:1 ratio, but other accounts recommend 3:1) in a mixing bowl, before kneading until smooth. Like you would for any other dough, cover the bowl in foil, cling wrap or a tea towel, and leave it to rest for one hour.

After this time, you knead it again — but this time, under water. Under water as in fill the bowl up with water, not take it for a swim or leave water running over it the whole time. Next is “wash, wash, wash” until the water runs “clear-ish” — but not completely clear.

The next step is where you add flavour — spices of your choosing. In the video, futurelettuce uses “salt, pepper, garlic, paprika”, before mixing (kneading) it together, and letting it rest for another hour. Then, twist and knot. Cook it in a frypan, add some veggie stock and let it simmer for 45 minutes

One of the reasons seitan is going viral on TikTok? Not only is it a great meat substitute, but seitan is also low in carbs and a “great source” of protein — one serving of seitan will give you 21 grams of protein (for contrast, one serving of chicken is 23 grams, according to Kylie). And yes, you can have it in nugget form, burger form, and even steak according to her video.

If you don’t have the time to make it, you can buy ready-made seitan from shops (but they often do have salt added). Sadly for those with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, it’s definitely not suitable for them. But for regular old vegans, or carnivores who are looking to be more creative and experimentative in the kitchen — well, it’s right up your alley!

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