Seitan, also known as wheat gluten, was originally developed in Japan, and as a result of its production process it is one of the most concentrated plant-based sources of protein available.
Over the last few decades, seitan has increased in popularity as a meat alternative. It is generally sold in block format, but is also available in strips or in the form of regional foods (e.g., sausages, turkey, or roulade). Most larger supermarkets and organic grocery stores carry seitan.
The block form of seitan is often flavored with shiitake or portobello mushrooms, fresh coriander or onion, or barbecue sauce, or packed in a vegetable-based broth. In strip form, it can be packed to be eaten right out of the package as a high-protein snack. Shaped seitan products, in the form of "ribs" and patties, are frequently flavored with barbecue, teriyaki, or other savory sauces.1
Wheat gluten is also sold in a powdered form that is used for baking or to make seitan. In powdered form, it is called vital wheat gluten and consists almost entirely of gluten and almost no starch. It is used to add elasticity to flours that are low in gluten (e.g., whole wheat and rye), and it helps dough to rise better and improves the overall texture. Vital wheat gluten is very potent, and you generally only need to add about 1 tablespoon per 2–3 cups of flour.
Just 100 g of seitan contains about 75 g of protein, making it a concentrated protein source. Seitan usually contains hardly any carbohydrates or fat, but at least 25 percent protein. Like other plant-based foods, it doesn’t contain cholesterol. Since seitan is packed with gluten, people with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease should avoid it.
From Wikipedia: Wheat gluten is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten. Wheat gluten is also called seitan (UK: /ˈseɪtæn/, US: /-tɑːn/; Japanese: セイタン), mianjin (Chinese: 麵筋), wheat meat, gluten meat, or simply gluten. Wheat gluten is an alternative to soybean-based foods such as tofu, which are sometimes used as meat substitutes. Some types of wheat gluten have a chewy or stringy texture that resembles meat more than other substitutes.
Wheat gluten is often used instead of meat in Asian, vegetarian, Buddhist, and macrobiotic cuisines. Mock duck is a common use for wheat gluten. Wheat gluten proteins are deficient in lysine, which is an essential amino acid. Wheat gluten first appeared during the 6th century as an ingredient for Chinese noodles. It has historically been popular in the cuisines of China, Japan and other East and Southeast Asian nations. In Asia, it is commonly found on the menus of restaurants catering primarily to Buddhist customers who do not eat meat.1
The powdered form of wheat gluten (vital wheat gluten), is made by hydrating hard wheat flour to activate the gluten and then processing the hydrated mass to remove the starch, leaving only the gluten. The gluten is then dried and ground back into a powder. Seitan may be made from vital wheat gluten or from hard wheat flour (a.k.a. high-protein flour, high-gluten flour, or gluten flour). When seitan is made from vital wheat gluten, the powder is simply rehydrated to form the gluten and then cooked. Seitan produced from wheat flour is a longer process. First a dough is made by hydrating the flour, then the dough is kneaded under running water to remove the starch from the dough, leaving only the gluten. The gluten is then cut into pieces and cooked via steaming, boiling, frying, or other methods.1
The word seitan is of Japanese origin and was coined in 1961 by George Ohsawa, a Japanese advocate of the macrobiotic diet, to refer to a wheat gluten product created by Ohsawa's student Kiyoshi Mokutani. In 1962, wheat gluten was sold as seitan in Japan by Marushima Shoyu K.K. It was imported to the West in 1969 by the American company Erewhon.1