Gentle Readers, lean in close, it’s confession time. For many many years, I was a vegetarian but not a particularly good one. I was more of a cheesetarian, with a side of veggie burgers. Now that TPCs Jr have declared themselves to be vegetarians, I feel far more invested in expanding their diet.
All of that said, it boils down to a simple conundrum: I like tofu, they do not. The Youngest could write an ode to her dislike of the stuff, but I have not yet thrown in the tofu-water soaked towel. So while I’m not crazy over the idea of “meat substitutes,” I use them. I would much prefer each meal to be a lovingly prepared and balanced variety of veggies, legumes, and more, but let’s keep it real people.
Enter Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips. I typically find soy chicken one of the more noxious offerings, but TPCs Jr loved it at a local Chinese place. So I bought a package as an experiment. OMG. They probably lace the sauce package with fairy dust, but this stuff is actually good.
First, it is chicken strip shaped, but the texture is way better than typically found. Second, the sauce is nicely balanced. It has umami. It’s a blend of salt, tang, and sugar that works. Cook some rice or noodles, steam some broccoli, pan-steam a few veggie dumplings, boil some edamame. Dinner is served.
And it is served at 1/4 of the price of getting the exact same thing at the local Chinese place. I still consider this cheating, and file it as “vegetarian junk food,” but it is incredibly good. The three of us can plow through a package, so for a large appetite group or more people, you may want to double down.
Highly recommended for anyone who has to work and feed gourmands. I still hold out hope they’ll fall in love with tofu (they eat edamame by the bushel), but until then, to the Gardein I go.
What’s your stance on meat substitutes? Post a comment below or Tweet my way. I look forward to hearing from you!
Send your witticisms, deep thoughts, and legitimate questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)
Coming up Sunday, it’s Weekly Menu Time! or How to Cook in Chaos.