Black Pepper “Chicken” Curry

September 29, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Black Pepper "Chicken" Curry

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet but does a soy product named “chicken” taste like chicken?

We all know it – “fake” meat gets a bad rap. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times…fake meat products are not meant to taste like the original meat it’s trying to mimic. If you’re a meat-eater and you’re expecting soy to taste like chicken it’

In the course of all fake meat conversations usually comes the question: “Then why do they call the fake stuff by what it’s supposed to be?” Well, let me attempt to break it down. Fake meat products have different flavors, tastes, consistencies. For those of us that have eaten meat in a former life, we sort of remember how the various meats tasted. That’s useful because manufacturers can use the meat names to help convey if it has a mild taste (“chicken”), a bold taste (“beef”), or spicy taste (“pepperoni”). The forms that the product come in are described in a way so we know how they will be prepared “chicken strips” versus “beef crumbles” versus “turkey slices”. If you’re making a chili, you reach for the “beef crumbles” but if you’re making a stir-fry grab the “chicken strips”.

Then, of course, others will point out that if one is vegan or vegetarian why would they be eating “chicken”, “beef” or other meat-like products. Well, there are some people that may have never eschewed the actual flavor of meat, they just don’t like how meat is made.

Bottom line, never expect a fake meat to taste like the original meat it’s fashioned after. I look at them as a conveyance of flavor that are unique amongst themselves.

So, let me demonstrate. I’ve taken a Food and Wine recipe and veganized it by only changing one ingredient – the chicken. I knew exactly what meat-free product I needed to buy, pushed up my sleeves, and dug in.

Now, did it taste exactly how it would have if I used real chicken? Honestly, who cares? It tasted great all on it’s own. Who needs comparison? The sauce was bold and flavorful. Best of all, it took less time to prep than if I used real chicken.

Black Pepper “Chicken” Curry
“Veganized” from a Food & Wine recipe

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 vegan chicken “cutlets” – Gardein Tuscan Breasts recommended cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced serrano or Thai chile
  • 3/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup broken raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


(MEGABETH NOTE: The original recipe below contains cook times and marinating times for use with actual chicken. Because the meat-free “chicken” cutlets are precooked, they require less time to cook through.)

In a bowl, combine the coriander with the cumin, peppercorns, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.

Add the “chicken” and rub with the spices to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. (Megabeth note: Or, less, depending on how well you coat the “chicken”.)

In a large deep nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the “chicken”, garlic, ginger, serrano chile and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the “chicken” is golden brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Stir in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the water, then cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. (Megabeth note: Or, less, as the “chicken” is already cooked you’re heating it up and letting the flavors congeal more than having to cook actual chicken until it isn’t pink anymore..)

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the cashews and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut milk and the lemon juice to the chicken and simmer, stirring. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the cashews; serve hot.



Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Italian Wedding Soup

May 31, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

And now, we come to the end of the Vegetarian Giro d’Italia and our Last Supper. (Appropriate as Leonardo di Vinci was a vegetarian.)

It’s been a race of ups and down, surprises and nail biting stage wins. So, it’s time to celebrate much like one does at a wedding with some Italian Wedding Soup. Ah, but here’s where it gets tricky. The original name of this Italian soup is “minestra maritata” or “married soup”. This marriage is referring to the marriage of meat and vegetables not a wedding between two people.

Somehow, we Americans mistranslated these words and the misnomer was born.  Also remember that this is the Veggin’ way, so I also eliminate the meat part of the recipe as well. So, in the end, we all make compromises just like we accepted the fact that the winner wasn’t going to be Nibali, Evans, or Sastre.

Don’t you worry, I consulted my bible of vegetarian cooking, Vegetarian Times, for the best recipe and found this easy squeazy one that took no time to make. In fact, I had traveled all week, made the weary trip home from the airport, and had a bowl of hearty soup within 40 minutes of getting home without hardly breaking a sweat.

So, thank you for joining me on this tour of Italy. Be sure to stop by throughout the year as I tackle vegetarian recipes and reviews from all over the world.

Italian Wedding Soup
Vegetarian Times, October 2008

  • 4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.), plus 1 whole clove, peeled, divided
  • ¾ cup diced carrot
  • ¾ cup diced celery (Note: I omitted the celery due to personal taste)
  • 1 Tbs.  dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 1 Tbs. dried parsley
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup ditalini pasta
  • 1 pkg. vegan meatballs, defrosted (18 small meatballs)
  • 1 5-oz. pkg. fresh spinach (Note: I tried this with kale…I think spinach would be much better)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and minced garlic; sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in carrot and celery, and cook 5 minutes more, or until onion is soft and just beginning to brown. Add oregano, basil, and parsley, and cook 1 minute.

Stir in broth, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, add ditalini, and cook at low boil 5 minutes, or half of cooking time stated in ditalini package directions.

Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic clove, and crush with wooden spoon in oil while heating. Add spinach; cook 3 to 5 minutes, turning constantly so spinach becomes evenly coated and wilted, but still bright green.

After meatballs have simmered, add spinach and lemon juice to soup, and season with salt and pepper.

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