Vegan and Beyond: Ways to Cook with Plant-Based Protein | Vegetarian food and drink

What are the best plant proteins and How do I use it?
Rachel, Sheffield
Protein remains the part of the plant-based diet that non-vegetarians seem most skeptical of, even though there are many good sources, from legumes, quinoa, chia seeds, and nuts to dates, and even some vegetables, like broccoli and sprouts. As Richard McCain, AKA the School Night Vegan, says, there are “three layers” to keep in mind: [legumes, beans, lentils]things are lightly processed like tofu and seitan, and then things like vegan meat alternatives are processed.” I’m sure tier one is covered, Rachel, and you just need to visit the frozen aisle at the supermarket for level three, so let’s take a look at tofu, seitan, And tempeh is out of this world—after all, they make for fun cooking.

by Max La Mana, author of You Can Cook This! (In March), tofu is king: “There are all kinds of varieties, covering everything from breakfast to dessert.” Firm tofu is “probably easier to work with,” says Chef Alexis Gauthier, which makes a good starting point. At his London restaurant 123V, Gauthier meticulously sliced ​​it to “create the texture of ‘crab meat’ for maki rolls.” Meanwhile, McCain marinates the tofu in dark soy sauce and spices, then grills it to get the shawarma “meat”. La Manna’s modus operandi is the butter ‘chicken’, which involves sautéing shredded and pressed tofu in olive oil and cornstarch, and baking it at 200C (fan 180C)/390F/gas 6 for 15 minutes; For the sauce, saute onion, ginger and garlic in vegetable butter, add spices (garam masala, curry leaves, ground coriander, paprika), coconut milk and tomato paste, and simmer for 10 minutes. “Add the baked tofu in the last few minutes, then toss and serve with rice.”

Silken tofu is, as the name suggests, more delicate and La Manna blends into creamy sauces or desserts (think chocolate mousse). It is also ideal for scrambles. Meera Sodha, writer of the new vegan column for The Guardian, writes: “[Its] Its mild character makes it the perfect vehicle for the louder Indian flavors.” And that’s the thing about tofu, it’s a blank canvas, so be bold with the flavors you infuse.

Then there’s tempeh, or fermented soybean cake. It’s wonderfully versatile and “has a lot of umami,” says McCain, who chops it into mince or chops and sautés it for nuggets. La Manna marinates cubes of the stuff “much in the same way as animal protein,” then bakes, grills, hash browns, or barbecues: “Tempeh can do it all.” However, you’re more likely to find seitan at Makin’s (it’s made with wheat gluten, so it’s not for the gluten intolerant). “Once you cook it, you get this fibrous, meaty symmetrical,” says McCain, who uses it where you would chicken — maybe fajitas. In terms of value for money, McCain says, “The best is the old favorite TVP [textured vegetable protein]They come dried and in different shapes (minced meat, braids, chops), so put them in whatever liquid you want (say, a flavorful broth), and then treat them to the meat.

Perhaps the biggest question is what you’re looking for in a protein—are you looking to imitate meat, or do you simply need new approaches with tofu? “There are as many opinions about plant-based proteins as there are about vegans,” McCain says. “Some have been so meatless for so long that they can’t imagine something realistic being attractive.” Try embracing tofu, seitan, and tempeh in their own right (as well as those legumes, beans, grains, etc.), and steer clear of the idea that meat is the poster child for our dishes. Oh, and if you’re going the fake meat route, keep in mind how many (and what) ingredients they contain.

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