After living in the same home for 20 years, we decided to take on some updates, especially in the kitchen. The end result is certainly fun to look forward to, but it has taken away our ability to cook for the last week or so.
Given this challenge, we have been eating out quite a bit. And during this time, we have stumbled across something that has us fascinated, that being “ground beet meat tacos.”
If you are a regular reader of this column and you have a good memory, you might recall that Liz and I decided to go vegetarian for one month earlier this year. It wasn’t nearly as tough as we thought it would be and we came across some really good recipes we have used since then.
We even learned how to properly prepare tofu, although I will admit we haven’t made a tofu dish since our month of vegetarianism.
And now having experienced beet meat, the next time we engage in a month or so of vegetarianism, I won’t have to run to Burger King to get a vegetarian Whopper when confronted with a craving for beef. And I certainly won’t try to fix some bean-based burger patties on the grill. Those darn things simply taste like seasoned beans with the texture of….well...beans.
I’ll just whip up something with beet meat. But it got me curious as to whether I was overly exaggerating how good this stuff was. So Liz and I decided to meet up with some friends at the restaurant where we discovered beet meat tacos and had them try them. They also thought they were eating ground beef. It really has the color, texture and flavor of beef. How in the world do they do that? Enquiring “foodie” minds need to know.
The challenge with creating plant-based meat products that taste and feel like meat is due to the obvious differences between plants and meat. Meat is basically muscle, and muscle is springy and elastic. Plants obviously don’t have muscles, so the cell structure is rigid, which gives most plants a rigid, crunchy texture when raw. So dietitians and scientists for years have been trying to mimic the springiness of meat in a vegetable product.
Voila! They have now isolated wheat and pea proteins, which duplicate the springiness of protein. What’s the second characteristic that makes a great taco or a juicy burger? Fat. Animal fat provides a “mouth-coating” feel.
Think of it this way. Olive oil and vegetable oil tends to be in liquid form at room temperature, whereas animal fat is not in a liquid state. The compromise at this point tends to be coconut oil, which like animal fat is not in a liquid state at room temperature.
This is an area they are continuing to improve on and perfect. And in terms of the color, beets like raw beef are naturally red. As far as flavoring, that’s a closely held secret by the companies that produce these products.
Bottom line, give beet meat a try. I think you will be as pleasantly surprised as we were.