For those of you that are familiar with working with the meat-substitute seitan, you know that it can be a rather finicky food item.
Depending on the brand, seitan prefers to be cooked perfectly, or else you’ll risk ending up with a spongy, rubbery, or hard result.
If you have ever prepared a meal that had this popular meat substitute in it and you are left wondering why is my seitan rubbery, you are not the only one with this problem.
Seitan can become rubbery for a variety of reasons because it’s primarily from gluten.
Cooking with seitan gets easier the more often you do it, so if you’ve just started experimenting with it and you’re getting frustrated, don’t give up!
Why is My Seitan Rubbery?
Seitan becomes spongy or rubbery when it’s cooked incorrectly, primarily when it’s kneaded too much before cooking. Seitan is a dough, and like most doughs, it acts up when it’s been kneaded too much, becoming rubbery or tough. Most people boil seitan when cooking it, and it’s a common error to remove it from the pot too quickly. When seitan goes from a boiling pot to cool air, it has a serious effect on the texture, making it seem incredibly rubbery when chewing. To prevent rubbery seitan, you’ll want to avoid over-kneading it and let it sit in the pot and cool a bit with the water.
Preventing Rubbery Seitan
Preventing seitan from becoming rubbery in the preparation and cooking process is more manageable than it sounds.
It can be incredibly frustrating to make an entire meal based around seitan only to have it turn out rubbery and unpalatable.
There are ways to keep seitan from turning into a sponge, and they’re all easy to implement.
Don’t Over Knead
Over kneading your seitan is a sure-fire way for it to come out rubbery.
Though seitan is made of wheat gluten, it’s not the same as bread. However, it does need some kneading.
The more you knead a dough, the more gluten forms, and it’s the additional gluten added to an already gluten-laden food that creates a super spongy end texture.
If you’re unsure how long to knead your seitan, simply cut down on kneading time bit by bit until you achieve the texture you’re looking for.
Some recipes suggest three minutes, while others suggest two, but it’s really up to your personal preference.
Utilize Plastic Wrap
If your seitan comes out rubbery, try wrapping it in plastic wrap after it’s kneaded.
You can let it simmer and cook in the pot with the plastic wrap on, just make sure that it’s been securely tied at both ends.
You can leave the seitan in the wrap until you’re ready to serve it.
This improves texture drastically by preventing any drying out during the cooking and simmering process.
You’ll also find that plastic wrap preserves the shape of your seitan dough, which means you can cut it into neat slices instead of serving seitan chunks on a sandwich!
Freeze Your Seitan
Before you cook seitan, it’s never a bad idea to freeze it quickly.
The freezing process hinders gluten development, which makes for a meatier and less spongy seitan texture.
It’s important to note that this may not work for every seitan recipe, so it’s something that you’ll have to try out before putting your final dish together.
Leave it in the Pot
Letting your seitan hang out in the pot in which you’ve been simmering is a really great way to keep it from getting too rubbery.
Once you’ve cooked it, don’t take it out right away, as the cold air in the room can screw with the desired texture.
Instead, let your seitan sit in the brothy pot for at least 15 minutes.
Taking it out too soon not only makes it taste rubbery, but it will be a spotty texture issue, meaning that certain parts will taste spongy while others are meaty.
Rest it for a Day
There are plenty of people that will tell you seitan tastes much better the next day, and since storing seitan allows for water to seep out, this actually makes sense.
If you give seitan a day to sit, you’ll find that you have a denser mass of seitan the next day, making for a meatier and more authentic taste.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why is My Seitan Rubbery
Because seitan can be so fickle, there are plenty of websites and blogs dedicated to detailing how to cook seitan and what factors will help it to taste more like meat.
These are a few of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to cooking and serving seitan.
Why is my seitan rubbery?
Seitan is usually rubbery because it’s been kneaded too much or simmered and cooked incorrectly. If it tastes too rubbery, try kneading it less, maybe a new recipe, cooking it while wrapped in plastic, or storing it the day before eating it. All of these things can make for meatier and less spongy seitan.
What can I make with Seitan?
You can make so many things with seitan, ranging from sandwiches to curry. The internet is full of vegan recipes that feature seitan as the main dish, and once you’ve nailed down your seitan recipe, you’ll be able to make each of them with ease.
Seitan Doesn’t Have to Be Rubbery
If you make seitan for the first time and it comes out spongy, don’t worry and don’t give up.
Seitan doesn’t have to be rubbery, and the more you work with it, the better it will be!