Friday, October 14, 2011

Tofurky and Tempeh for Thanksgiving

This past Thanksgiving, I decided to try some fake meat "Tofurky" instead of real turkey. As a family we've always struggled with turkey -- specifically turkey leftovers and dry breast meat. So I went down to Whole Foods and got a Tofurky.

Tofurky is more or less a tofu-based fake turkey meat. It's round (think turkey, minus arms, legs, head, and ass) and has about a tennis ball's worth of wild rice stuffing in the middle. If you get the basic Tofurky Roast, you just get the round of tofurky and have to prepare the baste yourself.

The firmness of the "turkey" part is comparable to actual turkey, but the look is a dead giveaway (there's no fibrous look, as you do with actual meat) and the colour and taste is way off. The taste is the worst part -- there's still that mild tang and slight bitterness of tofu.

If you're looking for fake meat, this is a poor substitute. It's just too far off. Honestly, how some people say they might mistake it for real meat is beyond me.
If you're looking for something vegetarian and convenient for Thanksgiving, the vegan Tofurky does okay. It's got the main elements of Thanksgiving turkey, plus no animal products, so everyone can eat it (although the stuffing has whole wheat bread crumb, so wheat-intolerant folks are slightly out of luck). As for the bitter tofu tang, smother that with gravy or cranberry sauce.
If you're vegetarian or vegan, then well, beggars can't be choosers.

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While I was at Whole Foods, I also grabbed a small packet of pre-marinated Tempeh, a soy product that can be used in many ways, often in substitution for meat.
Not very meat-like here, but its firmness is quite convenient, especially if you don't cut it so thinly that the soy easily crumbles as you can still see the beans though they are pressed together.

Whole Foods carries many varieties from Turtle Island Foods, from whom we get Tofurky. They didn't invent Tempeh, but they have products to try to make it as convenient as possible to savour -- like the Sesame Garlic Marinated Tempeh I got, which just needed quick pan-frying.

If you don't think of it as meat, it's interesting to try. Plus, Tempeh contains antioxidants, isoflavones, saponins, fiber, protein and every required amino acid. Tempeh aids digestion and boosts the immune system. (But too much soy can give you man boobs).

The Sesame Garlic Marinated Tempeh came out a bit salty/sour, and unfortunately couldn't be crisped in the frying pan. If I had it again, I wouldn't prepare the whole packet -- the sourness just builds too much too quickly on the tastebuds after a couple of strips. Instead, I might crumble it to mix with a salad or somehow have it as an accompaniment or ingredient.

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Other than Yves and Turtle Island Foods, there's also Quorn, which is supposed to be "eerily meat like" according to some reviewers, but it's unlikely to reach Canada, possibly due to incidents of allergic reactions. Since there are allergic reactions to something as commonplace as peanut butter, that probably not the only reason, however. Way back in 2002 they were waiting to see how things go with introducing it in the US before marketing to Canada. Since we haven't seen it around here, it's probably safe to say it won't be here any time soon.

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