Frothy coffee, cloud bread, eggy sandwiches and more – is there anything TikTok can't make viral? 

The social media platform has become a thriving hub of trends, churning out endless videos and tutorials for dishes to try, drinks to whip up and even clever ways to hack into a birthday cake. 

And now TikTokers are racing to try the latest foodie trend: homemade seitan. And although it's trending now, it's an ancient food, with some tracing it back up to 1,500 years to Buddhist China when monks discovered how wheat turned into something meatier when soaked in water. 

"Although many perceive it to be a highly processed food, seitan can actually be made using regular plain flour as many on TikTok are discovering", Sam Pearson, the owner of Vegan Sandwich Co in Dublin, tells us.

"All you have to do is take a ball of dough and knead underwater to remove some of the starch and, once cooked, you get something that resembles the fibres of meat."

Read more: Meet the man creating vegan chicken fillet rolls

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The food is made from a mixture of flour and water and most commonly used as a meat substitute. It might seem like a lot of work for something resembling chicken, but when made right the shredded seitan looks just like chicken thigh meat. 

So how do you make it? 

For beginners, Sam recommends using a recipe that uses "vital wheat gluten instead of flour first". This "removes the washing step and any potential disasters that can occur from it", he says. 

"Start by making something simple and see what you think of the texture and taste then work from there. Once you're confident with your basic recipes, you can experiment with different flours, cooking methods and flavours to get the perfect recipe."

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The method making the rounds on TikTok is the "washed flour" method, where you add water to plain flour and knead until the mixture is smooth. After letting it rest for an hour, you add water to a bowl, add your flour mixture and knead it again in the water.

Once the water runs almost clear and the mixture takes on a stringier texture, you can add seasonings to it and knead them in. One popular tutorial by TikTok user @futurelettuce uses salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. 

Seasons, as Sam says, are vital as the wheat only gives texture and a little flavour.

"Always have something to add some saltiness, something for a bit of acidity and something to add an umami savoury kick and you can't go wrong. If you’re looking for some secret ingredients to take it to the next level, throw in a bit of marmite next time you’re making it for some delicious meat-free, meaty goodness."

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Rest again for another hour, and in the above tutorial the seitan is twisted and knotted to resemble a chicken breast fillet. This is then fried on a pan until a golden crust is formed, and then simmered in vegetable stock for 45 minutes. 

Once shredded, the seitan looks just like chicken thigh meat and can be used in many dishes. This is just one way to prepare seitan, however, and recipes are going viral on the app, including another by @futurelettuce for vegan seitan pastrami. 

Although the food is only used as a meat substitute, "the possibilities within that are endless", Sam adds. "In Vegan Sandwich Co, we make Chick*n, Bac*n, Kebab, Pastr*mi, Sausage and more all from these basic core ingredients."