Soy Meat with Simmered Root Vegetables

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chikuzen-ni simmered soy meat and root vegetables

As soy meat gains a following, vegetable food expert Izumi Shoji shared a recipe for chikuzen-ni simmered soy meat and root vegetables. Master cooking with soy meat and expand your cooking repertory.

Chicken is the main ingredient of regular chikuzen-ni, but this recipe uses soy meat, which has a texture and taste similar to real meat. Lately thanks to a growing health consciousness, soy meat has become available at mass retailers and other places. This recipe uses dry soy meat, which is like koya dofu (freeze-dried tofu).

Although dry soy meat is often rehydrated in hot water, Shoji recommends using tepid water.

“When the soy meat softens, change out the water and squeeze moisture out of the soy meat,” she said. “Repeat the process three times or so until the water is no longer milky.

“This process helps remove the smell of soybean,” the food expert said.

Rehydrating soy meat in hot water shortens the cooking time, but sometimes soy meat gets too soft, Shoji said. Fry the soy meat in oil by itself to create a juicy texture to it.

Shoji pays careful attention to preparing vegetables.

“If you use frozen vegetables, you can make the dish look well-simmered in a short amount of time,” she said.

Freezing vegetables destroys their fibers, and as a result the vegetables can be cooked through quickly and absorb seasonings better. Hard root vegetables are especially good for freezing, and their textures become softer, the food expert said.

The trick is to cook frozen vegetables without thawing them first.

“When frozen vegetables are thawed, water comes from them and damages both flavor and nutrition,” Shoji said.

Ingredients (serves two people)

Dry soy meat block 15g / lotus root 50g / taro potatoes 100 g/ burdock roots 30g / carrots 30g/ 2 dried shiitake mushrooms / ⅓ konnyaku (80g) / kombu kelp soup stock ½ cup / moderate amount of snow peas

1 Cut the lotus root, burdock root and carrot into large pieces and the taro potatoes into bite-size pieces. Put them in an airtight storage container and freeze overnight.

2 Rehydrate soy meat in water until it becomes soft. Squeeze the moisture out of it and soak it in fresh water, repeating this process about three times. Cut the soy meat into bite-size pieces. Heat oil over medium heat and fry the soy meat in the oil. Drizzle a tablespoon of cooking sake and a teaspoon of soy sauce over the soy meat.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Soy meat fried in oil

3 Rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms in 150cc of water and cut them into bite-size pieces. Keep the water. Remove the strings from snow peas, boil them lightly and cut them into two to three pieces. Cut konnyaku into bite-size pieces.

4 Heat an adequate amount of oil in a pan and lightly stir-fry frozen vegetables, konnyaku and shiitake mushrooms.

5 Add the leftover water from the mushrooms, kombu kelp soup stock and soy meat in the pan and bring to a boil. Then, simmer it for five minutes over medium heat. Season the ingredients with two teaspoons of soy sauce, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of mirin and simmer them for a few minutes. Place them on a plate and sprinkle the snow peas over them.

Despite the relatively short cooking time, the ingredients were well soaked with seasonings and soft. The soy meat was so tender that, had I not known it was soy meat, I would have believed it was chicken. The lingering flavor on my tongue was similar to that of chicken. When I made it at home, my husband failed to notice it was soybean.