A little off topic today, but I wanted to share with you an article from NPR related to a field I follow with great interest, and that is the development of animal product substitutes. This article talks about fish in particular.
The thing that makes fish substitutes seem promising to me is that sea vegetables really do offer seafood flavor, in all its complexity, without the animal. Land animals are a harder nut to crack. Nonetheless I have at times been amazed at just how unimpressive the alternatives to meat and other animal products can be. I’m very skeptical that something like a filet mignon, smoked pork, or a roasted bird could ever really be recreated artificially. But there are some meat products that I think lend themselves fairly well to substitutes, primarily those that are more about texture than flavor. Boneless skinless chicken breast, for example- It hardly has any flavor at all, and it seems a shame that CAFOs full of chickens would have to live miserably and die in order to obtain such a tasteless product that people eat (I believe anyway) more due to it being inoffensive and versatile than because of any particular virtues it possesses. Beyond Meat is an interesting company that has recently gone mainstream selling chicken and beef substitutes that were designed, after much research, to be texturally nearly identical to meat. I have actually tried their grilled “chicken” and I would say my overall assessment is that it’s odd, but not entirely bad. The jury is still out for me on that one.
Ground beef is another product that I think lends itself very well to replacement, since in many recipes it is more about the texture and the filling quality of the meat, rather than the flavor itself. As far as ground beef, my favorite substitute is probably textured soy protein, which can also be added to meat to extend it so you can use less. Another product I’d like to give a shout-out to is the Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime burgers. I love them!
If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, here is an interesting article from Popular Science: