A protein-rich food made from wheat gluten and used in many vegetarian dishes. Seitan's firm texture is definitively chewy and meatlike (which is why it's also called wheat meat), its flavor rather neutral. That mildness, however, allows seitan to be a kitchen chameleon that easily picks up the flavors of the foods with which it is cooked. Available in the refrigerator section of natural food stores and Asian markets, seitan typically comes in foil- or plastic-wrapped cakes that may be square or rectangular and that average about ½-inch thick. It also comes in 8-ounce plastic tubs. Check the expiration date on fresh seitan. Seitan is also sold as wheat gluten, a powdered form that can be mixed with water. The wheat glutenwater mixture, however, doesn't have the same chewy texture as commercially packaged seitan. For the best texture and flavor add seitan to cooked dishes at the last minute, heating just until it is warmed through.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.