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There are some wonderful brands of commercial seitan. One that I particularly love it Ray's Wheat Meat, which has the consistency of pulled chicken and a savory, bready flavor. Almost all homemade seitan that I've had or made has an off-note that is completely absent in the best commercial seitans. It's hard to describe this off note--sort of a chemical harshness that arises in the back of the mouth. This note can also be detected in some commercial seitan products, such as Field Roast sausages, although it is much weaker than in the homemade versions.

When I make seitan, I start with just vital wheat gluten and water. I knead them together for several minutes, let it rest for 20-30 minutes, and then simmer in water before preparing in other ways. The seitan looks good and often has a wonderful texture, but I just hate that flavor that looms up. I have tried adding kombu, dulce, soy sauce, nutritional yeast flakes, parmesan--no dice.

As a lower priority, how does one make seitan with the consistency of pulled chicken? Basically, how do I make Ray's Wheat Meat without buying it?

PS: I did see the one other post about "horrible" seitan, but it doesn't really address this flavor issue.

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    The one time (so far) I've made seitan, My research and inclinations both lead me to starting with flour; mixing up and kneading a stiff ball of flour and water, then placing that in a bowl of water overnight, then rinsing out the starch (and copious amounts of bran, since I happened to use whole wheat flour) the next day. Serious kneading and long wet soak time both help to develop the gluten which will aid the texture (and the ability to separate starch.) I would not be overly surprised if your harsh taste (haven't had enough to know it) was related to VWG as a starting point. – Ecnerwal Sep 22 '15 at 0:00
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I have never cooked with seitan, but found your question very interesting. The below excerpt from VeganFuel , includes a letter from the President and Founder of Fresh Tofu, Inc, a distributor of Ray's Seitan:

We asked if their seitan is made in house, as it is consistently the best seitan we’ve had. We thought we may get some secrets for making our own as tasty. To our surprise, they don’t make it. They get it from Fresh Tofu Inc., who distubutes Ray’s brand seitan to a number of restaurants including Candle Cafe and others. If you’re in NYC, you can find Ray’s at Lifethyme on 6th ave. Anyway, I contacted Fresh Tofu and their Pres/Founder Gary was more than willing to give me some tips on making our seitan more kick-ass. He said it’s all about how much starch you rinse out after it is in dough form- this also means using high gluten flour as oppose to my beloved vital wheat gluten. Here is his email reply for all of us nerds:

Hi,

Use a high gluten flour. King Arthur is 1 brand. Mix the flour and water and knead to make a dough. Let rest for 10 minutes, keep it covered in water. Then rinse with luke warm water until it looks stringy and the water is getting clear that rinses out. This is the point that you need to decide how much starch to rinse out, which will effect the texture. Let it rest a bit, then boil in broth stirring so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot. When it floats and is cooked through it’s done. Learn from your errors and improve the next time. Blossom and Candle are very good at cooking with seitan, that’s why it tastes better. Candle has a cookbook that might help. I hope this helps.

Gary

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I've had success with this trick. Make a vegetable broth, season it as you would a soup stock. Use your fav recipe. Or simply use a vegetable boulion or broth. Cool it completely. When you make your seitan use the broth instead of water to mix with the wheat gluten or flour. This does help quite a bit.

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Have you tried with a shot of roasted sesame oil ? I mean the dark one, made from roasted seeds ;)

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Regarding the flavor: I've had success using vegetarian "Chicken Style Stock", made by Massel, to replace both the nutritional yeast and salt. If you're using the cubes, each cube replaces about 1/6 tsp salt. They add a great savory flavor.

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I've been making seitan about 2 years now. I always make a well seasoned homemade vegetable broth; flavored according to end product (chicken, beef, etc.). I use it to mix the Vital Wheat Gluten and for boiling the seitan after mixing. It produces a good seitan with no after-taste.

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