I was in Amsterdam this week seeing friends, and couldn’t help noticing that the restaurant we were visiting had arranged their menu for the National Meat-Free Week campaign. It reminded me that it might be time to post this little recipe to echo the sentiment.
So, this is for the vegetarian in you even if you’re not. (Remember, you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy a plant-based meal now and then!) And it’s always a treat when you taste a vegetarian meal that embraces the “umami” principle – the hmm factor for good tasty food.
Umami is considered the sixth taste, one discovered at the turn of the century by a Japanese scientist who first identified it in seaweed, the base for many Asian dishes. We might recognize it in ingredients such as soy sauce, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms. This recipe blends the former with Worcestershire sauce (there are vegetarian blends out there that skip the anchovies!), herbs and dried soy protein slices for a hearty umami-flavoured meat substitute. You’d be surprised how, when fried, the bland taste and chewy texture of soy protein can almost look and taste like meat…
75 g (1½ cups) dried soya slices
1 tablespoon white vinegar
tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
- Cover the soy slices with boiling water and stir in the white vinegar. Leave to soak for about twenty minutes, or until they are soft and have doubled in volume.
- Drain and squeeze out all the excess water.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium flame. Add the soya slices and stir fry until they begin to brown. When they brown add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to stir-fry until all the liquid has absorbed and evaporated.
- Add the rosemary, thyme, and cloves and stir-fry one minute more to release their fragrance.
- Season to taste with more soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce if needed and let it evaporate again.
- Remove from the flame.
- Serve with any of your favorite vegetable recipes.