Soy curls are my new best friend. And I love the name to boot 😋. It sure beats sharing “I love bean curd” with the world lol. I first learned about soy curls from a recipe that popped up on my Pinterest feed a few weeks back. I was surprised how much they resembled meat (namely chicken and beef) and finally had a chance to do a little more digging this week. It turns out I’m not alone. When I called my local health store to inquire about stocking soy curls the buyer I spoke to said he’s had a flood of requests for them since January (but wasn’t sure why). Amazon carries them but doesn’t ship to Canada. While I struck out with Nature’s Fare (my go-to health food store here in B.C) I did discover a gem-of-a-store nearby that carries them so I put two bags on hold (a shout out to VeganSupply.ca for their impressive range of products!) When I arrived to do my pick up the product my soy curl fervor got the better of me (as Janik predicted) and led me to leave with four bags in hand. Today I’m thrilled to share my first cooking adventure with soy curls: Mongolian Style Sauce with Soy Curls.
If soy curls are new to your vegan ‘arsenal’ here’s a quick overview culled from my research:
-made by Butler Foods (at least this is the only manufacturer I could find that distributes to B.C, Canada)
-made from whole non-GMO soy beans that have been cooked, texturized and dried
-free of any additives and preservatives
-they need to be rehydrated in hot water (for about 10 minutes) before use
Since I wanted to see how soy curls would hold up as a hearty meat substitute I decided to try out a signature recipe in Asian cuisine. I decided to go with a Mongolian-style dish which is characterized by beef strips (usually flank steak) that are stir-fried with vegetables and wrapped in a savoury sauce made with hoisin sauce, soy sauce and chili peppers. This seemed like a good “stake in the sand” against which to measure how meaty and satisfying the soy curls could be 🙂. I have to start off by saying soy curls, in their dehydrated (packaged) state, look unassuming and borderline ‘eek’…..it’s not until they are rehydrated that they start to take on a texturized, meat-like appearance. I guess what I’m really trying to say is you need to keep an open mind your first time using them.
I’ve seen recipes with soy curls rehydrated only, rehydrated and marinated all-in-one and rehydrated and baked prior to being used as a hero ingredient. For this recipe I opted to keep it simple. After rehydrating the soy curls I drizzled a few tablespoons of tamari sauce over the curls to let them soak up the flavour while I prepared the sauce. This deliciously sweet and savoury sauce calls for a few pantry staples including fresh garlic, minced ginger root, tamari sauce, vegetable broth, brown sugar and rice vinegar. You may note I make the distinction between Red Russian vs regular garlic in this recipe. I’m a bit of a garlic snob and prefer the strong flavour and sweet aftertaste of the Red Russian variety but any variety would work just as well 😀. Once you’ve sautéed your sweet onions and sweet bell peppers (don’t forget a few dashes of Himalayan pink salt) all you need to do is toss in the marinated soy curls and fold in your prepared Mongolian-Style Sauce. You want to let the soy curls and veggies sit in the skillet for a good 5-10 minutes in order to let the curls soak up the sauce (it also helps to coat the veggies in this saucy goodness). Considering first impressions (judging by the packaged curls at least) I was delightfully surprised by the soy curls. They hold their shape, soak up flavour well and have a slightly chewy texture which makes them the perfect, hearty solution for sandwiches, soups, chili, casseroles – even barbequed dishes.
I opted to use basmati rice as my base for the sauce-coated soy curls and vegetables since basmati has a sweet aroma and light, nutty flavour but another variety of rice would work just as well. If you’d like to try this recipe but don’t have soy curls on hand simulated beef strips or baked TVP would work well (see the Recipe Notes section for tips on baking TVP) but I hope you’re able to source the soy curls. Trust me, you will be hooked!
- 1/Prepare one 8oz/227 g pkg Butler’s Soy Curls or baked TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
Note: Each 8oz bags yields 1.5 soy curls when hydrated
- 2/Prepare cornstarch slurry (Mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 2 Tbsp warm water); set aside
- 3/Prepare 2 cups dry basmati rice as directed; fluff with a fork and set aside
*For the cornstarch slurry:
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp warm water
*For the ‘beef’:
- One package of 8oz/227 g Butler’s Soy Curls
- Warm water (enough to cover curls)
- 2-3 Tbsp tamari sauce
- 3 cups Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Boiling water (enough to cover TVP)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
*For the sauce:
- 2 Red Russian garlic cloves or 3-4 regular garlic cloves (10g)
- 1 Tbsp ginger root, peeled (10g)
- 1/4 cup tamari sauce (70g)
- 1 cup vegetable broth (240g) (Tip: Dissolve 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder in 1 cup boiling water)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar (25g)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar (5g)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (10g)
*For the vegetables:
- 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 2 sweet bell peppers
- Olive oil
- Few pinches of Himalayan pink salt
- Scallions, finely chopped
- White sesame seeds
- 1/Add garlic and ginger to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- 2/Add olive oil. Sauté3 min/120C/Speed 1.
Important: Insert the butterfly whisk attachment to your Thermomix mixing blade before starting Step3
- 3/Add tamari sauce, half of the vegetable broth (1/2 cup), brown sugar and rice vinegar to the TM bowl. Cook 5 min/100C/Speed 1.5
- 4/Add the reserved cornstarch slurry to the TM bowl. Replace the mixing bowl lid with the simmering basket. Simmer 2min/80C/Speed 1.5
Important: Remove the butterfly whisk attachment from your Thermomix mixing blade before starting Step 5
- 5/Add the reserved vegetable broth (1/2 cup) to the TM bowl. Blend 25 sec/Speed 6. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if required ; To thin out the sauce prepare and add vegetable broth; if you prefer a thicker consistency prepare and add a second batch of cornstarch slurry); set aside.
- 6/Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Using a drizzle of olive oil, sauté the sweet onion and bell peppers until tender. Add a few pinches of salt while frying.
- 7/Transfer your prepared Mongolian-style sauce and reserved rehydrated soy curls (or baked TVP) to the skillet with sautéed onions and peppers. Combine well. For 5-10 minutes. You want the soy curls to soak up the sauce and be well coated.
- 8/Cover your plated basmati rice with the sautéed veggie-soy-sauce mixture. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
*How to rehydrate soy curls:
- 1/Place soy curls (8oz/227g) in water. Add enough warm water to completely cover the curls. Let soak for 10 minutes.
- 2/Drain soy curls and rinse in cold water. Using the underside of a spoon, press gently on the soy curls to release any excess water.
- 3/Drizzle 2-3 Tbsp tamari sauce over the soy curls for a quick ‘marinade’. Let side for 5-10 minutes to soak up the flavour.
*How to rehydrate and bake TVP:
- 1/Pour 3 cups TVP flakes (dehydrated) into a large prep bowl. Add enough boiling water to completely cover the TVP. Let soak for 10 minutes.
- 2/Transfer the rehydrated TVP to a colander/sieve. Rinse with cold water.
- 3/Using the underside of a spoon, press down on the hydrated TVP to release any excess water.
- 4/Transfer hydrated TVP to a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil over TVP; add a few pinches of salt. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes (Important: Remove from 5 minutes to ensure the TVP bakes evenly)
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance; however, it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. multi-function processor, immersion blender etc).