Vegan Shredded “Chicken” Style Seitan
In this post I show you how to make seitan from scratch before turning it into a vegan shredded “chicken”, perfect for adding to wraps or tacos!
What is seitan?
If you’ve ever purchased “mock meat” from the supermarket, the chances are you’ve already tried seitan.
Seitan is the name given to the meat like substance made from vital wheat gluten and other ingredients. (More about vital wheat gluten below!) It is often beige or a pale brown/grey in colour and has a meaty, chewy texture.
Because seitan is so versatile, you can flavour it and cook it in lots of different ways. By adjusting the cooking process or the herbs and spices in the dough, we are able to mimic different types of meat even though we always start from the same base recipe.
Today I’m going to show you how to make perfect “shredded” chicken style seitan.
How to make seitan at home
The first step is to make a simple dough out of vital wheat gluten.
What is vital wheat gluten?
Vital wheat gluten is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass, which is then used as the basis of seitan.
You may have seen videos on Instagram or TikTok which show you how to “wash” plain flour until only the gluten is left but this makes the process of making seitan much more time consuming and laborious. I also find the results are a lot more hit and miss.
Instead, I recommend buying vital wheat gluten in powder form. It looks just like flour (but more yellow in colour)! Using powdered vital wheat gluten is the simplest, and easiest way to make seitan or vegan “chicken”.
Do I need to add anything to the vital wheat gluten – e.g. tofu, chickpeas or jackfruit?
I’ve seen lots of recipes online suggesting to get the most “tender” vegan chicken / seitan you should add silken tofu, chickpeas or even jackfruit to your dough. In my experience you are left with a softer, more spongy texture and it is much harder to get a meaty, fibrous texture.
This vegan chicken recipe just uses vital wheat gluten, some chickpea flour and seasonings to get delicious seitan every time!
What makes the seitan taste like chicken?
There are a couple of shortcuts you can take to make your seitan taste like chicken, the easiest is to buy a chicken seasoning packet from your local supermarket. These will almost always be vegan (but do check for any sneaky milk powder, it’s rare they have actual chicken in them).
These flavour packets are usually packed full of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, dried herbs and sometimes paprika. I love the flavour you get when adding paprika so I’ve included it in my recipe. It reminds me of fried chicken and just takes the flavour to the next level! It’s also what makes my seitan orange in colour. If you prefer it to be a subtler flavour then you can always leave it out.
Bouillon is also a great way of adding flavour to the seitan and I use this rather than water to bring the dough together. (Regular vegetable stock will also work well).
Do you need to steam seitan?
The cooking process for seitan is a little strange, first you have to steam the dough until it has risen slightly and then become more firm. Lots of recipe online will tell you to wrap it in clingfilm or tinfoil then add to a pan of water to simmer / steam.
I think the best method is to leave the seitan uncovered and to add to a steaming basket above a pan of boiling water. The result is much more succulent, juicy vegan chicken!
Once you’ve steamed the seitan you can then cook it to you liking. To get shredded chicken, use two forks to pull the seitan apart into strips and then dry fry them to create crispy edges.
Now you know the basics of how to make vegan chicken by turning vital wheat gluten powder into seitan, let’s take a look at the recipe.
Vegan Shredded “Chicken” Style Seitan
- Saucepan with steamer
- Add all of the dried ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk to ensure they are well combined.
- Stir together the bouillon and olive oil in a jug before slowly pouring into the dried ingredients. Mix well as you add the liquid.
- Once the liquid has been added to the dried ingredients you should have a stretchy, sticky dough ball. Knead the dough ball on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes so that it is one scraggy dough ball.
- Cut the dough into 8 pieces and shape them into ovals or chicken breast shapes. The shape doesn't matter too much but you want them to be similar sizes so that they cook evenly.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and place the dough into the steaming basket (you may need to do this in batches). Cover with a lid and steam for 30 minutes.
- You will know they are done as they will have puffed up and be firm to the touch.
- (If you do not want to use all the "chicken" straight away, follow the storage instructions below).
- To shred the seitan into chicken strips, take two forms and pull the seitan apart. Keep doing this until you have the desired texture.
- Place a frying pan over a medium heat and dry fry the seitan to create some crispy edges and to ensure it's piping hot before serving!
Storage instructionsThis seitan keeps best if you store it whole (i.e. not shredded). If you don’t want to use all of the seitan at once, place it in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week. You can store the shredded seitan in the same way but it may dry out a little quicker. Add a little water or stock when you reheat it to add some extra moisture.
My favourite way to serve this vegan shredded “chicken” is as part of a Mexican feast! Below you will find all of the essential components for a vegan taco party.
You can use this vegan shredded chicken in a whole range of dishes. The possibilities are endless. Let me know how you will be using yours in the comments below.