As I reach middle age, I get more health-conscious and try to improve my diet by eating a lot of vegetables.
But I feel that I am just deceiving myself when it comes to Chinese-style vegetarian food. The meals may have green and leafy vegetables, but they almost always come with abalone slices, roasted goose, barbecued pork or some other not-so-healthy partner.
They are so oily and filled with MSG (monosodium glutamate) that having these veggie dishes is probably worse than consuming a whole can of luncheon meat.
Actually I haven’t eaten any meat for years except at the PizzaExpress’s Cook Off two weeks ago. I was honored to be one of judges of the cooking contest and was able to try out some “futuristic faux meat”, which really looks and tastes like genuine pork or beef.
It’s called “Beyond Meat”. Beyond Beef is 100 percent pea protein while Beyond Chicken is a blend of soy and pea protein. It has become popular in the United States since its launch a few years ago.
“I swear I can smell the intense fragrance of meat,” I told David, owner of Green Common, a grocery shop and restaurant, as a chef gave a cooking demonstration of a Beyond Beef steak.
David laughed and explained that the fragrance was the result of Maillard reaction, which happens when amino acids and sugars create the flavors of genuine beef under sufficient heat conditions like during pan-frying and stir-frying.
As for the oil used, it’s definitely not animal oil, but a mixture of coconut oil and rapeseed oil.
Unlike the typical vegan meat, Beyond Meat is not some ready-made processed meat but may be pan-fried. Whether it is healthier is not my concern. The taste is the only thing that matters.
I took a bite of the burger, and I found the taste and texture no different from the real one.
While a real beef burger is cheaper, David assured me, after a quick look at my belly, that Beyond Meat comes with no cholesterol.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 21
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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