Hey! Wanna feel like a real-life alchemist? Lets take a bunch of nasty, weird ingredients most people have never heard of and turn them into something totally delicious and healthy! Today we’ll be making seitan with this recipe from the Chicago Diner cookbook. I also recommend buying the book and cooking pretty much anything in it.
The recipe I’ll be discussing today is relatively labor intensive, but I assure you the result is both plentiful (yields 2 pounds) and rewarding. We’ll begin with an ingredients list:

  • 4 cups vital wheat gluten (by the bob’s red mill products; this one’s a real bitch to find)
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons celery salt
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
  • 2 ½ cups warm water
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups chopped stock veggies (I usually use carrots and celery)
  • 3 whole cloves garlic
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  1. In a large metal bowl, mix together the gluten, flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, herbs, celery salt, garlic powder, and white pepper (if you’re into white pepper).
  2. Add the warm water and soy sauce and mix it into that mess of dry ingredients until it’s well combined. It should lump up pretty quickly.
  3. For this step, the book recommends a dough hook attachment with a stand mixer. My dough hook’s on its way, so I managed without one. If you’re hookless, you will knead the lump until it looks like dough… It should take about 10-15 minutes. If you’re doing it without a stand mixer, stretch beforehand, because you’re about to get a workout pounding on this thing.
  4. Knead the lump for ANOTHER 10 minutes. You’re going to be as strong as Popeye when you’re done with this thing.
  5. Now take that big metal bowl with the lump in it and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the lump take a nap in there for 15 minutes to bring it down to room temperature.
  6. Slice the lump into quarters.
  7. In a large stockpot containing 1 gallon of water, place the dough, stock veggies, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. The book mentions that the stock pot should be big enough to accommodate the dough lump, which will be tripling in size over the course of boiling. So bring it to a boil and then reduce your heat to medium-low. Note: If you’re like me and not a professional cook, you probably won’t have a large enough stock pot, so I divided the dough and stock into two not-huge-but-pretty-big pots. The second time I made this recipe, I tried fitting all the dough into one not-quite-big-enough pot. The boiling level didn’t quite get high enough (because it would have boiled over) and the end result wound up being much more dense than the batch that had room to grow as large as it wanted. The dense batch was still good, but the texture was off. So the moral is you may want to split the batch into two pots if your pot size is inadequate.
  8. Simmer that sucker for 90 minutes. Go watch a movie or something. Make sure the seitan has tripled in size. You can discard the stock and veggies if it’s fully cooked.
  9. Take your seitan and put it in a deep baking dish, cover it in cool water and a little soy sauce, and put it in the fridge until it has cooled.
  10. Now you can grind it or slice it or mince it. Just don’t forget to marinate it for flavor.


The Chicago Diner cookbook has three marinades; I’ve tried two of them. I would recommend the corned beef style marinade, as follows:

  • 1 cups pickle juice
  • ¾ cup beet juice (from a jar of pickled beets is fine, but I found a bottle of beet juice)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seed
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seed
  • A dash of ground mustard
  • Black pepper to taste

Just mix it all up and pour it over your sliced seitan.

Add some sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, some vegan cheez, and boy howdy, you got yourself vegan reubens for days.