Homemade gluten or seitan 麵筋

Chinese has been using hydrated gluten or seitan (麵筋 'mien jin' in Mandarin) as a meat substitute ingredient for hundreds of years. Gluten is very versatile can be used in hundreds of ways and recipes. Not only as vegetarian it can also cook with meat or seafood. Fried gluten balls can be stuffed with minced fish or prawn or veggie filling. I love gluten especially fried then braised.

Gluten is not very digestible, if you have indigestion problem keep away or you will be bloated and suffering for hours.

Gluten or seitan is traditionally made with washing a lump of wheat dough in water and extracting the gluten. Or if you like you can buy gluten flour just mix with water. I have tried seitan made with gluten flour but not very keen I find it has a weird flavour. Gluten flour is available online but if you add the delivery cost it can be quite expensive.

I will show you how to make seitan the traditional way. It only costs around 80p for a bag of flour and a bit of time which isn't too bad.


1 bag (1.5kg) of strong white flour (bread flour)
about 3 tbsp of salt*
around 900ml water

*I was taught to use quite a lot of salt to make this dough to make better gluten. Don't worry you won't taste the salt, it will be washed away and leaving no trace of salt in the resulting seitan.

  1. Dissolve the salt in water. Then mix the flour and salted water together to a dough till evenly mixed. No need to knead. I mixed the dough in a bread machine in two equal batches.
  2. Cover and leave the dough to rest for 5 - 8 hours or overnight. By then the dough will become very stretchy.
  3. Put the dough in a very large bowl or clean washing up bowl. Add plenty of cold tap water and gently squeeze or knead the dough in water. Do not break the dough up into pieces, so be gentle, try to keep it in one single lump all the time. You will see the wheat starch melts into the water making it milky in colour, pour away this starchy water. Repeatedly change the water for around 6 - 8 times or as many as you wish. Eventually the lump of dough will get smaller and feeling firmer and more elastic like a piece of soft rubber, the water will get clearly after each change of water.
  4. Once the lump of gluten feels quite firm and water is almost clear, it's ready.
  5. Squeeze out as much water out of the gluten lump as you can. Then squeeze it together firmly to form an even and smoother lump.
Approx. weight of the resulting hydrated gluten or seitan using 1.5kg standard white bread flour is around 580g. Weight can vary with the type of bread flour used which depends on its protein contain and how dry you squeeze the hydrated gluten.

Leave the lump of hydrated gluten or seitan to rest for about 30minutes. Then it is ready to cook. This can be boiled, steamed or deep or shallow fried. I will show you how to use this seitan on the next post.


  1. Thanks for the tips...I love gluten.

  2. Very informative how-to. I don't like the gluten sold at the supermarket, so I look forward to your recipes with gluten.

  3. Oh! I used to retrieve gluten this way back in Brazil, but here in US, we can buy them without all the washing :-)

  4. Interesting, I'll have to try this!


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