Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trying to get TVP to pull its own weight...

Back when I was in college I spent a lot of time in vegetarian eateries and one in particular was really exceptional in that you never even noticed they did not serve meat...

Part of their success was that they really knew how to cook and were masterful in the way they adapted the sort of things people actually eat into a menu that people wanted to eat. So how did they do it?

My guess is that they, like all good kitchens, realized that a meal or dish is always multi-faceted and paid a lot of attention to the big three... flavor, texture, and presentation. Cooking vegetarian dishes that taste good is no big issue as vegetables on the whole simply taste good. Presentation is also pretty easy with a little thought and flair. On the other hand, texture for me is the more difficult aspect of vegetarian cooking... And in this area they really excelled using tofu and TVP in ways that really brought dishes together and worked.

Most vegetarian dishes are somewhat challenged on the texture front and most cooks compensate by doing dishes that are not big on textures... soups, for instance. Adding tofu or TVP can add texture but often don't bring along their fair share of taste to the process and, more often than not, I prefer that they don't even bother...

So here is my personal frustration... Having experienced a kitchen that really could make TVP and tofu work in a way that did not elicit a "why bother" reaction I know it can be done but, truth be told I'm having a lot of trouble working through the process to get my Strogannoff using either tofu or  TVP chunks to work in a way that you'd rather not just have the sauce over noodles... Know what I mean?

I've been hearing a lot of good things about "The TVP Cookbook" and will be giving it a read to see if I can ramp up my use of TVP in the galley and get to a higher culinary plateau...

Which is not to say I'm giving up meat, but TVP does make all kinds of sense in a cruising boat scenario as it is easy to store and costs very little. So you might say I find myself motivated to make it work the way I know it can.

1 comment:

jc luddite said...

bob, do you have the "farm" cookbook? all old hippies should have it. it from the farm commune in summer town,TN.

tvp needs lots of soy /tamari and cooked in lots of oil to make it taste like it's not a processed soy food.i like to fry it. even my 6 year olds will eat it.

jc