Making Guruten (Gluten) Vegetarian Meat


I was going to post my great grandmother’s ohagi (botamochi) recipe next but got distracted by cupcakes and that was enough sweet stuff this weekend. I try to make a few vegetarian meals a week so I wanted a substitute for tofu and I decided I would try to make guruten. You would think that it’s much faster to go back to the grocery store compared to the amount of planning and time it takes to make guruten but I was excited to try something new and I wasn’t going to eat it tonight.

I have memories of my mom making it for dinner and I remembered it being a long and arduous process but the last time I remembered her making it was when I was a kid so I wondered if time changed my perspective on guruten making. I looked up a recipe on a Japanese website and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was it wasn’t as difficult as I remembered it. Yes, you have to let the dough rest for about an hour for the gluten to form and you have to wash it until the water is almost clear (I’m not sure if it ever gets clear), but it’s not difficult and the process is forgiving.

My grandmother buys canned and marinated guruten from a vegetarian vedor that she buys tons of veggie stuff from so I decided to infuse some flavor in it by marinating it over night in a basic teriyaki sauce of soy sauce, mirin, sake, sesame seed oil, sugar, black pepper, garlic and ginger.

500 grams of flour (approximately 1lb) only yields a little bit of guruten. I’m marinating it to eat the next day.

I feel a little rebellious making gluten with the gluten free craze going on right now but if you don’t have gluten allergies then it’s a great vegetarian source of protein. I’m planning on cooking up this guruten tomorrow and see how it goes.

Naomi Kuwabara
Naomi Kuwabara was born and raised in California but spent many summers in Japan growing up. She has spent time living in Hokkaido and Osaka, both meccas for Japanese cuisine. Her passion is cooking and sharing her experiences cooking Japanese food with others. Her blog Umamitopia is about her experiences cooking Japanese food. Her greatest inspirations are from her mother and grandmother. Her cooking adventures can be found at
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