Back in the year 2001, the word vegetarian was a barely heard of word (especially in my hometown); and a couple of high school classmates even proudly claimed that they were vegetarians (while munching on a hotdog on stick just outside the school gate) because: one of them loves vegetables, and the other loves vegetables and has eaten soy meat. I couldn't comprehend what made them think that I also eat hotdogs (when they have never seen me eat one) and that I love vegetables (I clearly didn't, except potatoes when fried).
I became vegetarian right after I watched a documentary of PETA of how the meat gets to the table. However, I was a veeeeeeeeery picky eater before that. I didn't eat beef, pork or chicken. AND vegetables. I only ate five kinds of fish, prepared and fried in a specific manner (or else I wouldn't eat it).
So during my first year of not eating animals, I wasn't technically a vegetarian. I was a vegemeatarian. Yes, that's all I ate. Plus fried potatoes.
So years passed, I never undid my lifestyle choice, and I learned rather slowly to eat more vegetables. That means, before I finished high school, I had self-mastered the art of vegemeat.
In the university, I had friends and acquaintances who approached me numerous times for advice about their relationship, degree/career and all sorts of things. But I guess, one of the most common topic I faced was about vegemeat: where can I buy it, how do I cook it, does it taste like meat, etc. And once or twice, an experienced person's question: how do you remove the aftertaste?
I welcomed those questions and loved answering them despite hearing myself like a broken record for years. After all, that hard, tree bark-like thing made of soy can really be intriguing, especially because of how flexible it can be in cooking.
Now, as more and more people turn vegetarian, vegemeat or soy meat has increasingly became popular and more accessible to everyone.
Here in Japan, I recently (2017) saw several types of it sold in the supermarket. I was in utter joy, thinking that more people are really choosing to go vegetarian. I wanted to buy all the types of soy meat all at once. Except that I had never had my husband try it. *sigh with me here*
So I just bought a few packs (see pictures below).
I haven't tried them as of the moment, but as soon as I do, I will share the pictures and recipes here of course. What I have tried is the one my mom bought at an Indian vegetarian restaurant in Quezon City, Little India:
How To Use Soy Meat
There are many other types and brands of soy meat, but at least for me, they follow the same way of preparation for cooking: soften >> wash well to remove aftertaste >> flavor >> cook.
When I soften soy meat, I usually add vinegar to help with the removal of that aftertaste many vegetarians and non-vegetarians do not like. There are three ways I soften soy meat:
1. Put water, add vinegar and leave for about an hour (or I usually leave it in the fridge overnight);
2. Put hot water, add vinegar and leave for about 20-30 minutes;
3. Put in a pot, add water and vinegar, boil for about 5 minutes.
I then strain the water and rinse the soy meat several times (usually three times). At the last rinse, I squeeze the water out very well then flavor it with whatever I want. Then I cook it-- fry, grill, roast, stir-fry, bake, whatever. I just don't like it in soups very much, unless I fry it first before putting in the soup.
Soy meat, vegemeat, textured vegetable protein, TVP, whatever you want to call it, don't be intimidated to cook it because it's really very easy. And once you get to know it a little, it will instantly be your best friend, especially in times when you're missing meat (if you're still in the process of going vegetarian).
Here is the video of how I prepare soy meat:
Next time I will master the art of freezing it for quick, easy use. For now, prepare tissue (for wiping drool) and be inspired by some soy meat dishes I made the past couple of weeks (soon I will write their recipes, as soon as I finish reinstalling my blog)!
Happy cooking and eating to all of us!