I pray to God that the boys back home at The Butchery don’t read this one…
Mock meats are a food innovation that the world has not yet fully embraced. While we’ve come a long way from frozen veggie patties, I feel as though chefs across the world do not give enough respect to the “alternative” part of “meat and alternatives”. These kinds of products open a wealth of options to people who’s religions or dietary restrictions would normally prevent them from enjoying certain foods. A chefs we must be flexible and open to the evolution and change of the products we use. There is no such thing as a bad ingredient, only a bad cook.
Now the history of mock meat might surprise you. When you think of a meat alternative, you generally think of those new health food grocery stores popping up all over the GTA catering to the leaf loving vegan community. Its probably where you’ll find most mock meats in this city, but if you think that’s where it ends, you need to look a little harder! Deep in the canned food isle of the Chinese grocery store, among all the mumbo-jumbo pickled eggs and stinky fermented what-not, you’ll find this beauty:
Ok, not so beautiful after all…my point is, the Chinese have been doing mock meats for thousands of years! Traditionally this stuff was made for Buddhist people, and if you payed attention in your high school world religions class (let’s be honest; nobody did), you’ll know that many Buddhists don’t eat meat! That’s right! I’m pretty sure it has something to do with reincarnation or something, but hey, I already told you, I didn’t pay attention in world religions class.
So these Chinese chefs who are way smarter than me, came up with the idea of using WHEAT GLUTEN to make FAKE MEAT. That’s right, I said it…wheat gluten…and I just lost 25% of my subscriber base because it seems like every fourth person I meet these days has some form of gluten intolerance. So, gluten haters, beware! I’m sure there’s something else out there for you ❤.
Now in Japan they call it seitan, in Chinese it’s known as mien chin which literally translated to “dough tendon”. You can find it in the back of those hippy health food stores, way at the back AWAY from the gluten free products. You can buy it if you can handle the bone-shuddering death stares of raw fruitarian health nuts looking down on you for deteriorating your health by eating the God forsaken death ingredient of this decade…or you can just make it yourself!
Now extracting gluten from wheat flour is really simple, but really annoying, so I don’t recommend it to anyone. It involves making a dough with bread flour and rinsing it under cold water until all the starch is gone, and you’re left with the gluten protein. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Go to your local bulk food store, grab a bag of GLUTEN FLOUR. It might be labeled as VITAL gluten flour. Mix it with some water, a vegetable bouillon cube, and some spices (I used smoked paprika). Mix it up until you have something that resembles week old bubble gum on the bottom of your shoe.
(Shadows for dramatic effect.)
I fried mine in some vegetable oil. They do this really cool think where they puff up and I was really excited by it!
They look so good! But…
They end up deflating into a gross soggy dumpling. This was an accurate picture of my own heart after witnessing they phenomenon.
They tasted like chewy tofu skins. I tried marinating them in some soy sauce and lime juice to give it a little more flavor.
They still look pretty bad.
They tasted OK at best, and the texture was really rubbery. My only option at this point was to turn to the dark side…deep fry em. So I battered those sad little gluten blobs in some tempura batter and covered them in a sauce made with gochujang and honey. Sprinkled a little sesame and some scallion on them so my aunt would consider guinea pigging one for me…
They actually looked pretty good! They tasted…well…alright. That might even be a little generous. Alright who am I kidding, they were awful. Like really bad. The sauce was pretty good, but the mock meat had the texture of an old tire. I mean, I guess it would be pretty good if you enjoy well-done steak.
Oh well, can’t win em all. Next time I’m going to try boiling the mixture before frying it. Or maybe I’ll mix something else in it to help it hold its shape. Maybe some regular flour? I don’t know but you haven’t seen the last of Matt’s Mock Meat!
Until I figure it out, just stick to the regular stuff. Draft 2 coming soon!