How to cook: Soy-based vegetarian “beef” chunks

Vegetarian creamed beef and yard-long beans

Among all the soy-based meat substitutes that we have tried so far, and there have been quite a few, the soy-based vegetarian “beef” is my favorite. Oh, yes, when I cook vegetarian dishes for Sam, I eat what I cook too. So does Speedy. When Alex is home, I cook one vegetarian dish and one non-vegetarian dish for each meal, and Speedy and I eat both. But when only Sam is home for the weekend, we go vegetarian with her all the way. Most times anyway. So far.

Why not? When cooked properly, vegetarian dishes can be so delicious. Which brings me to an exchange I read in a forum somewhere when I was searching for the correct spelling of the Buddhist store in Manila where Speedy had been buying our vegetarian stuff. I’ve seen it spelled as “Polome” and “Polomi”, and I wasn’t sure which was which so I went Googling. Turns out it’s “Palomi”.

In the same thread where I got the complete information about the store, people were discussing how to cook soy-based and gluten-based meat substitutes. Someone said that for the “kitchen-challenged”, it can get tricky because the meat substitutes often turn out more chewy than rubber. I cocked my head, thought about it and I figured that the observation is true whether cooking with meat, seafood or meat substitutes. So, there’s really nothing extra-ordinarily hard about cooking meat substitutes. I kept that in mind when I cooked the vegetarian “beef” chunks.

Soy-based vegetarian

The package says imitation beef and, oh my, what imitation it is! The chunks even mimic the appearance of meat grain. PhP140.00 (about USD3.50) per pack at Palomi, a Buddhist store at the corner of San Marcelino Street and Quirino Avenue in Manila, the contents of the pack are good for four to six people if the “beef” chunks are combined with vegetables.

How are the “beef” chunks cooked? The instructions in the package say they can be fried (deep-fried, I assume) or stir fried. For my first recipe using the “beef” chunks, I opted to stir fry them.

Soy-based vegetarian

First, I cut each chunk into “fingers”.

Soy-based vegetarian

Then, I fried them in butter. Sam is ovo-lacto vegetarian, after all, not vegan, so butter is fine. Besides, butter is so flavorful and, along with other dairy products, rich in protein.

Soy-based vegetarian

The “beef” chunks are already seasoned so it was really just a matter of browning them to give them a more appealing texture and mouth feel.

On page two, the recipe for creamed “beef” chunks and yard-long beans.