On Moving Toward Vegetarianism: Mock Meat
Photo: Kelly Rossiter
I admit to being very confused about mock meat. I don't understand why anyone who has decided not to eat meat would want to eat something that is shaped like meat, or made to approximate the taste and texture of it. When I see those packages of fake bacon or fake hot dogs in the grocery store, I can't imagine ever putting that stuff in my mouth. I suppose there is a place at Thanksgiving for tofurky because of the cultural emphasis on the turkey, but otherwise my credulity is strained.Why do restaurants have menu items like "Pork" Ribs or "Chicken" Salad. Those quotation marks always make me nervous. Is it seitan, tempeh, tofu? I'd like to know. Wouldn't it make more sense to say Tofu in a Tangy Barbeque Sauce or Chickpea Salad? Isn't this just perpetuating the myth that vegetarians secretly want to eat meat? When I looked up mock meat on the internet, I found a site with recipes such as "Beef" Stroganoff, described as "a creamy sauce with mushrooms and chunks of mock meat". I don't know about you but the term chunks of mock meat doesn't do anything for my salivary glands. I just don't see the point of eating one thing and pretending it is another.
I found the recent controversy over the accusation that Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook Deceptively Delicious plagiarized Missy Chase Lapine's Sneaky Chef interesting. Plagiarism is a serious charge, but did no one notice or care that these two women were regularly lying to their families (especially their children) about what they were eating? I have no problem mixing vegetables into sauces or whatever to make them more palatable for children, but they'll never know they like spinach or tofu unless you tell them they are eating spinach and tofu. It seems to me that mock meat falls squarely into this same ethical issue.
There are endless delicious recipes for meat alternatives that stand on their own without having to reference meat dishes. Face it, it's tofu, just as in the recipe below.
Photo: Kelly Rossiter
Here's a recipe for a lentil loaf, unapologetic in it's lack of meat.
I think you can halve the tomato topping mixture in this recipe, I was left with quite a bit of it. I didn't have any fresh red or green peppers in my pantry, so I substituted some of my Green and Red Pepper Relish.
Tomato Topping Mixture
1 6oz Can Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Onion Flakes
1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Block Extra Firm Tofu
1 Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Cup Chopped Green Pepper
1/2 Cup Chopped Red Pepper
1 Tablespoon Tomato Topping Mixture
3 Tablespoons Plain Yellow Corn Meal
3/4 Cup Cooked & Drained Lentils
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Dried Mustard
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix the tomato topping mixture together first because you will need a tablespoon to mix into the lentil loaf. The rest will be set aside to coat the loaf when completed.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a skillet on medium heat, add chopped onions, red and green bell pepper and let cook until onions are transparent (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently.
4. In a food processor chop oats for 5 quick pulses. Drain tofu well and press with hands until all excess water comes out. In a mixing bowl mash tofu with a fork or use grater to coarsely grate.
5. In the same mixing bowl combine, cooked onions and peppers, 1 tablespoon of tomato mixture, oats, corn meal, lentils, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, cumin, chili powder, parsley, garlic and onion salt, dried mustard and mix until well combined.
6. Spoon into a loaf pan or spray a large sheet of tin foil with cooking spray to form loaf on, place on cookie sheet. On top and in the middle of tin foil form loaf mixture into loaf that is 2 1/2 inches tall and 4 1/2 inches square. Coat top and sides with tomato mixture (you will probably have some left over to spoon on later).
Cook loaf for 20 minutes, then cover with tin foil and cook for another 10 minutes. After cooking let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into it.