A recent meal at the new Hogtown Vegan on Bloor Street here in Toronto piqued our household’s interest in TVP. To be honest, we’d never even heard of it before, let alone eaten it, and didn’t really understand what it was either. Growing up in the UK, the only acronyms to do with food that I heard of were BSE and CJD, so you can understand if I was slightly concerned.
It turns out that TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein, which, if its not the most appetizing sounding thing in the world, as least isn’t a disease. It’s made from soy flour or soy concentrate, and is dehydrated before packing and then rehydrated before use. When it’s in chunk or flaked form, it has the look and texture of meat (though not the colour) and can be used as a meat replacement, or if you’re a carnivore, as a relatively cheap way to make meat go further.
Using it is actually ridiculously easy – and although I would warn against using soy products too much, it can certainly be a good cupboard stable for when there’s little else in the house.
1 cup dry TVP
1 large chopped carrot
1 onion, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
2-4 tbsps char siu sauce
1 tbsp pine nuts and sunflower seeds
Put the TVP into a bowl with just less than one cup of boiling water. Stir then let stand for 5 minutes
Meanwhile, in a wok, fry the onion in a little oil for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent
Add in the carrot and green beans and fry for 2 or 3 more minutes
Add in the TVP and a little soy sauce
Mix 2 tbsps of char siu sauce with a little water, to thin it out a little
Add this into the wok and stir to cover everything. You can add more char siu sauce if you prefer!
Cook until the carrots are tender, then serve over rice
Top with a few pine nuts and sunflower seeds
I find that this dish is delicious because they’re aren’t too many flavours or ingredients; its simplicity lets the char siu flavour stand out, and the addition of the pine nuts at the end may seem strange but it works! Pine nuts are expensive, so if you prefer, just use sunflower seeds. Either taste great!