Vegetarian cuisine suffers from the bias of many. Aside from pro-meat-snobbery, this is perhaps due to the history of dull over-cooked vegetarian “health food” style dishes and a focus on meat imitation. The challenge is that so many classic dishes use animal products in some way (from stock to gelatine), and many haute cuisine dishes have protein as the central focus.
Knowing a game-themed food and wine matching dinner was upcoming, but would have a vegetarian attendee, I set about trying to create something a little different for that guest. I set a challenge for myself: not just to create a novel ovo-lacto vege dish, but a novel vegan dish where, in true haute cuisine tradition, the focal point of the dish (it was a main) had to be protein.
I think soy protein, when prepared and executed well, is fantastic (e.g., deep fried tofu in a Thai curry). I started off using moulded soy protein (as in the pic) but moved on to tofu in the end because it offered better presentation options. The tofu/soy protein was dehyrated (to draw out the relatively flavourless liquid) before being infused (to replace to with a flavoursome liquid) in a soy/rice wine/Chinese 5 spice marinade. This was then seared.
For accompaniments I took a fusion approach. Red capsicum (bell peppers) were grilled, skins removed, and blended with a light miso. The humous comprised roast cashews, olive oil and a little garlic. The spätzle were made in the traditional way, but with hoisin sauce added, and then roasted to give a crisp texture (a bit like a Soy King crisp).