The culinary magic of seitan

PHILADELPHIA

It's a vegan food made from wheat protein, and proponents will tell you it can taste like anything you wish. That's one of the reasons why so many chefs have added it to their menus.

Seitan lets them create on a grand scale while attracting vegan diners who might not walk in the door otherwise.

We got the lowdown on seitan at Monk's Café in Center City, where Chef Keith Ballew did two simple dishes for the Action Cam. He sauteed some seitan in ginger beer and used that in an Asian-inspired lettuce wrap. Another batch, seasoned and sauced differently, went into a vegan gyro. Both are big sellers this summer.

Monk's buys its seitan from Michael's Savory Seitan. Owner Michael Cassidy makes his from high-gluten wheat flour. His process generates a product that's high in protein but low in fat, sodium and carbohydrates.

While restaurants buy it in five-pound containers, you can get it in a 12-ounce package at many retail locations. It's just the right size to feed one or two people as an entrée.

Locally, Michael's Savory Seitan is sold at Whole Foods Markets, at Reading Terminal Market's Fair Food Farmstand, and at Greensgrow Farm in Kensington. You can use it as a meat substitute in your favorite skillet recipe.

For more ideas, visit the website http://www.michaelsseitan.com, browse "Michael's Savory Seitan" on Facebook or Twitter. You'll find even more ideas when you browse the word "seitan" in your favorite search program. You can also phone the company at 267-597-7596.

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