Soy meat can be a healthy twist to favorite dishes

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Taco rice, top, and twice-cooked pork

Meat made from soybeans has become increasingly popular as a health food or meat substitute and the variety of products has increased.

Mayuko Bando is an expert in cooking soy meat and here she shares two easy dishes.

Soy meat is high in protein and low in fat and calories. The product is sold in three main forms: mince, thin fillets and bite-size blocks.

Minced soy meat is good for dishes that typically use ground meat, fillets are good for sauteing, and the blocks for fried or simmered dishes.

Soy meat generally needs to be rehydrated in hot water, but the retort pouch version, which does not require rehydration has become more widely available.

Soy meat can be found in the dry foods section of supermarkets, but it is also appearing as a quick-and-easy product. Ito-Yokado Co., for instance, started to sell rehydrated soy meat in the meat section in spring last year.

“Soy meat is filling and useful when making a side dish. Since it has a distinctive flavor, it’s better to season it fairly strongly,” Bando said.

Dried soy meat needs to be boiled for three to five minutes to be rehydrated, but to save time Bando recommends simmering it with the seasonings while rehydrating.

Her first recipe is taco rice using dried soy meat. Soy meat is easily flavored. Bando recommends seasoning it well with things like ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

Taco Rice

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 cups steamed rice
  • 40 grams minced soy meat (dehydrated type)
  • ⅓ onion
  • At least 3 tbsp shredded cheese
  • 2 or 3 lettuce leaves
  • ½ tomato
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp consomme powder
  • Hot sauce, if desired
  • Directions:

1. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and consomme powder to 200 milliliters of water to make a seasoning liquid. Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in a pot and saute minced onion. Add the seasoning liquid when the onion becomes transparent.

2. When the mixture comes to the boil, add soy meat and lower the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the excess water is gone. Place rice on a plate and top with shredded cheese, soy meat, shredded lettuce and tomatoes cut into 1-centimeter cubes. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired.

The soy meat is soft and fluffy, and has a texture like minced meat. The flavor of ketchup and other sauces goes well with rice.

Bando also shares a recipe for twice-cooked pork, using easy-to-use fillet soy meat from a retort pouch.

Since soy meat is low in fat and easily sticks to the pan, it’s better to use a relatively large amount of oil when cooking the meat. Stir-fry the ingredients to make sure they are thoroughly covered with the sauce.

Twice-cooked pork

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 80 grams fillet soy meat (retort-pouch type)
  • 250 grams or one-sixth cabbage
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 tbsp tian mian jiang sweet bean sauce
  • 1 tsp dou ban jiang fermented bean sauce
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp Chinese soup stock powder
  • Directions:

1. Make sauce by mixing 1 tablespoon each of sake and mirin, ½ tablespoon of soy sauce, grated garlic, grated ginger, Chinese chicken soup stock, tian mian jiang sweet bean sauce and dou ban jiang fermented bean sauce. Coat soy meat with 1 teaspoon of starch powder.

2. Put 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in the pan, stir-fry soy meat and remove when browned. Stir-fry roughly chopped cabbage and bite-sized green peppers with the remaining oil.

3. When the vegetables become tender, put the soy meat back in the pan and pour the sauce over it. Stir-fry and serve on a plate.

Since soy meat is a little dry compared to regular meat, it’s a good idea to coat it lightly with starch powder. This improves the texture and allows it to combine better with the sauce. The soy meat is chewy and filling, making it the perfect side dish.

Another characteristic of soy meat is that it can be stored for a long period of time at room temperature.

“Soy meat adds variety to your cooking. It’s good to use for everyday dishes or lunch boxes,” Bando said.