I’ve been recovering from a planned mastectomy for the last few weeks which means that at the moment, I can’t do some of the most simple things in the kitchen. I can’t cut vegetables easily, stir things properly or reach most of the shelves in the kitchen. Clearly, this means that my ability to cook is somewhat restricted but I decided to try anyway and this was the result.
I’m calling it Vegan Crunchy Bites but I guess you could also name it vegan popcorn ‘chicken’ or similar if you preferred! As a vegetarian, it has never been my preference to name vegetarian meals as if they were meat. They are a treat in themselves!
If you have read any of my previous ‘recipes’ then you will know that weighing and measuring really isn’t my thing. This concoction was no exception.
The bites are made from the humble TVP (soya) chunk. “Oh gross” I hear you murmur because if you have only ever encountered the TVP chunk in a boring sloppy dish where it had no flavour at all then I can quite understand your reaction. This, however, is the way to deal with them. TVP is actually a great food as it is high in complete protein, has no fat, is incredibly cheap (never buy it branded, it is exactly the same thing!) and it is full of lots of other things that we are supposed to eat lots of!
The first step was to soak some chunks in hot water with a little flavour in it. Today I used a garlic clove and a little vegan garlic dressing but you can use absolutely any dried or fresh flavouring that you want to try. Marmite works brilliantly at this stage as would any type of soup stock or a stock cube.
After the chunks had soaked for about 30 mins I popped them into a clean tea towel and squeezed as much of the liquid out as possible. I didn’t go mad but made sure they weren’t dripping wet anymore and much of the liquid had been removed.
The key to this recipe is to coat the chunks in some type of spiced flour mix, then to drop them into some type of liquid mix, to coat them in another type if spiced flour mix and then to fry them until crispy and mouthwateringly good. I vary the way I do this pretty much every time according to what I have but today’s effort worked quite well so I’ll tell you about that!
First, I coated the chunks in red lentil flour (full of flavour and protein) and salt, pepper and curry powder. I did this on the plastic plate in the photo. Instead of the lentil flour you could use cornflour but actually, this worked much better and I think I will stick with it.
Secondly, I made up a dipping liquid of tahini (Wow more protein!), garlic powder and water. You could use any liquid here, of course, this was just today’s choice.
Thirdly, after clearing the plate to use again, I made a coating of polenta, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and garlic powder ready for coating the chunks. You could use any flour or crumb or substitute here too of course.
I think quickly dropped batches of the chunks into the liquid, then into the polenta coating and popped them straight into the frying pan.
The result – mouthwateringly yummy, moreish, crunchy vegan bites.
Today’s batch is accompanied by some HP Brown Sauce because although I live in Israel, comfort food has to have my tastes of Britain, my birthplace, for them to really comfort me. Its served on plastic because I can’t do the washing up easily either!
How do you make yours?