The first time I ever came across a packet of seitan was in a grocery store in New York, and honestly, I was a little repulsed.

It was vacuum-packed, looked as slimy as a snake, and was a sort of orange-brown sludge colour. I stood there mystified as to what on earth I was supposed to do with it. In that split second I couldn’t imagine it in any simple dish such as a pasta, salad, pie etc… And as goes so many in-the-moment consumer purchases, I wasn’t convinced and walked away.

The whole experience left me so “turned off” it didn’t even cross my mind to do a little more research, and cast my net wider in terms of product choice. But the first time I had seitan in a restaurant, cooked by an expert chef, I was sold. The strong savoury taste and slightly chewy texture were divine!

A few simple seitan facts:

  • seitan is derived from the protein part of wheat (so it’s not gluten-free)
  • it first appeared in 6th century China where it was especially popular with Buddhists
  • the term “seitan” was established in the 60’s by a Japanese macrobiotic-diet advocate
  • a powdered form is available called “vital wheat gluten”
  • high in protein, low in fat
  • watch this quick video to learn more

We tested two different products from our local health food store.

(1) Seitan Tamari Protein Bloc (made from spelt proteins in tamari soy sauce, mature in cedar casks)

Seitan tamari protein blocSeitan tamari protein bloc









(2) Seitan Viana from Tofutown

SeitanSeitan Viana


How to cook seitan:

  • Pan-fry it (5 minutes a side)
  • Grill it (3 minutes a side)
  • Roast it (cook it whole in the over at 180°C for 45 minutes)
  • If it comes in a plastic package immerse in boiling water for 20 minutes (I am not loving this option!)

Having looked at the products out of the packaging, I decided to make two completely different dinners.

RECIPE: Seitan and Pesto Pasta (serves 3-4)

  • 250g / Half a bag of spelt pasta (we used Sainsbury’s penne as it was super cheap)
  • 200g Seitan Viana, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli, washed and broken into florets
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 small or 1 large red onion, peeled and diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 jar of vegan pesto (try an organic one for maximum flavour, this delicious one is in our hamper. You can also buy other versions in the free from section at most grocery stores)
  1. Boil the pasta for 10 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water
  2. Steam the carrots and broccoli for 7-10 minutes, put aside with the pasta
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and the Seitan, and fry for 5-10 minutes till golden over medium heat
  4. Combine the fried onion and garlic back in the pasta pot, together with pasta and vegetables
  5. Empty jar of pesto in and stir over a low heat with a wooden spoon till warmed through
  6. Enjoy with a sprinkle of something….nutritional yeast or pinenuts should do it!

RECIPE: Seitan Wellington (serves 4)

  • 1 sheet / 160g of Puff Pastry
  • 1 tube of savoury vegan pate (we used Granovita as we found it at a recent vegan festival and it’s lovely)
  • 550g block of Seitan Tamari
  • Soy milk (we only use Bonsoy because I’m a soy milk snob!) for brushing

(1) Heat the oven to 200C

(2) Defrost the puff pastry if frozen and lay out flat on a smooth surface

Preparing pastry for Seitan Wellington

(3) Spread the entire inside of the sheet with the savoury pate. Rinse and place a few fresh oregano leaves across the pate.

Pastry spread with vegan pate

(4) Remove the Seitan from it’s packaging and make sure its dry. If it feels a bit damp pat it down with a clean kitchen towel (throw it in the wash!

(5) Roll the Seitan up inside the puff pastry to form a round parcel that resembles a fallen log in the woods, or a roly-poly cake

Lay the seitan loaf in the pastry and pateWrap the seitan up in the pastry to form a wellington


(6) Brush the outside of the puff pastry with soy milk

(7) Bake in the oven for 45 minutes

Seitan Wellington

We served our wellington with baked brussel sprouts (toasted pinenuts on top) together with a few fresh carrots and peas on the side. Try some redcurrant and mint jelly with the “roast” too. Yummy!

Not only was this seitan wellington so good, but it also packed a protein punch! The 550g block of seitan had 148g of protein in it, which gave each guest around 35g.


Simplifying Happy Protein Choices

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About Michelle

Michelle grew up in a culture where it was normal to eat meat at every meal. Watching close family suffer multiple health problems drove her to learn more about eating for health. After watching Food Inc Michelle took the plunge into veganism and hasn’t looked back since. She is now on a mission to bring vegan inspiration to everyone!

2 Responses to “What the hell is Seitan (Say-tahn) and how do you cook it?”

  1. Laura C.

    Thanks for the recipes, Michelle. The instructions for the seitan pesto pasta recipe don’t appear to include the seitan. Do you sauté the chunks along with the onion/garlic?


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