Innovate Blog
Hottest free-from dishes 2019 – Is seitan the perfect alternative to meat?

Thursday July 18, 2019

Plant-based foods have been experiencing growth throughout 2019 thanks to the growing number of people becoming vegan and vegetarian. Tofu has long dominated the plant-based foods category, but now seitan is on the move. A recent Research and Markets report found that the global meat substitutes market is expected to reach $5.81 billion by 2022, thanks to growth of vegan preferences and health awareness generally—and seitan is expected to see the fastest growth in that time.

Seitan is a chewy protein-rich food made from wheat gluten and is used in cooking as a substitute to meat. It’s low in fat and carbohydrates, high in protein, and contains no sugar, saturated fats, and cholesterol. It also contains more than the recommended daily amount of eight of the nine essential amino acids, which are the basic building blocks for our organs and tissues.

The meat alternative has been consumed around the globe for nearly 1500 years, most popularly used in Buddhist vegetarian cuisines of China, Japan, and Vietnam. In the western world, the popularity of seitan as a meat alternative began to grow in the mid-20th century, during the rise of vegetarianism. It is now a prominent player in many plant-based diets, and available to consumers in most supermarkets and health food stores.

One of the main reasons that seitan has become so popular is due to its satisfying juicy, chewy texture, which many say is almost identical to chicken. It’s also extremely versatile, and can be baked, steamed, fried, roasted, braised, stewed, etc. It can be cooked to a dense, tough consistency, or to a lighter, spongy consistency. There are endless possibilities!

The easiest way to cook seitan is by simply frying it in a pan with a small amount of vegetable oil until it’s lightly browned, then add vegetables to make a vegetarian stir-fry. You can also add seitan to just about any vegetarian curry recipe or add bits to a soup or stew for a plant-based protein boost.

Some of the other ways to cook seitan include:
• Marinated, baked and cut into slices like meat
• Used as a ground beef substitute
• Sliced into strips for fajitas or stir-fries
• Slathered in barbecue sauce and served as a main dish
• Breaded and deep-fried like chicken strips
• Threaded onto skewers and baked or grilled
• Steamed for a lighter flavour

If you are looking to try seitan cooked in a variety of ways, then we recommend visiting the following places:
• Temple of Hackney (Morning Lane, London) – Fried seitan, which is said to be very similar to fried chicken.
• Young Vegans (Camden Lock Place, London) – Seitan and ale pie, their vegetarian take on the steak and ale pie.
• Paradise Palms (Lothian Street, Edinburgh) – A variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, which use seitan as a main ingredient.
• The Warehouse Café (Allison Street, Birmingham) – Seitan doner kebab, their vegan take on a fan favourite.

Vegan dishes like seitan have also become extremely popular in the food-to-go market as delivery app Uber Eats revealed that at the beginning of this year it saw a 23 per cent rise in people ordering vegan and vegetarian takeaways. This increase shows that there are now more people than ever ordering vegan food.

If you are considering offering dishes containing seitan as a takeaway or delivery option for your customers, we have a variety of packaging options to suit your needs, whether you require a leakproof container to hold seitan curry or a bagasse container to carry fried seitan. To find out more about our different types of food packaging visit our Food Packaging e-brochure.

If you would like any further information, please contact Bunzl Catering Supplies today.

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