Faking Meat, The Chinese Way
From his travels in China, Food Guy Greg Patent reports that scientists there have for decades been perfecting the art of fake meat. Not only can they duplicate the flavor of duck, pork, chicken and fish - all from soy protein - they also create authentic color and texture, down to which direction the fake meat fibers run.
The process begins by using heat to break down the rather globular soy protein. Acid or other solvents re-shape it, a wet extruder creates the desired texture and fibers, and dyes are added for color. Ingredients like soy sauce, tomatoes or mushrooms create the crucial umami flavor, while soy or pea flour and carrot fiber further refine the texture and 'mouth feel.'
"How did it all taste?" asks Other Food Guy, Jon Jackson. "Close enough," says Greg.
"The way things are going on this planet," observes Jon, "there are so many of us that we'd better attend to these kinds of things, don't you think?"