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Wheat gluten, also called seitan, wheat meat, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from the gluten of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as a gummy mass, which is subject to further processing.
Wheat gluten, although not as well known, is an alternative to soybean-based meat substitutes such as tofu. Some types of wheat gluten have a texture more like that of meat than most other substitutes, because of their chewy and/or stringy texture. Wheat gluten often is used instead of meat in Asian, vegetarian, Buddhist, and macrobiotic cuisines. Simulated duck is a common use for wheat gluten.
Wheat gluten is most popular in China, where it was first developed, as well as in the cuisines of 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.
Because it was first popularized in western nations during the second half of the 20th century through its promotion by proponents of the macrobiotic diet, seitan (the name by which it is known in macrobiotic circles) is also the name by which wheat gluten is best known in most English-speaking nations. In the West, prepared wheat gluten is generally available only in Asian markets and health food stores (although gluten flour is commonly available in supermarkets).

Use

In Chinese cuisine, most forms of wheat gluten are typically red cooked or braised, such that it can absorb the flavours of the braising liquid. Fried wheat gluten balls that are large and puffed-up, such as da mianjin qiu can be stuffed with fillings. It is not common in Chinese cuisine for wheat gluten to be consumed "plain."
In Japanese cuisine, gluten is cooked and simmered in soup such that it gains flavour from the broth. In addition, baked wheat gluten with its spongy texture is added directly to soup as it is served for use as a decorative condiment. In Japan, wheat gluten is also directly consumed in the form of dumplings after they have been steamed.
Wheat gluten is also sometimes used in pet foods. Wheat gluten from China adulterated by melamine has been blamed as the cause of a widespread recall of pet food in March 2007.

Food additive

Gluten is used as a stabilizing agent or thickener in products such as ice-cream and ketchup, where it may be unexpected. Foods of this kind present a problem because the hidden gluten constitutes a hazard for people with celiac disease.
The "Codex Alimentarius" set of international standards for food labelling has a standard relating to the labelling of products as "gluten free", however this standard does not apply to "foods which in their normal form do not contain gluten".

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