January 23, 2010

Faux Meat

One of the goals of Evolution Kitchen is to adapt meat dishes to vegetarian. A reader once asked why would a vegetarian want to eat food that tastes like meat. Certainly there are those who truly detest the taste and/or texture of meat, but I believe many vegetarians are that way based on religious, health, economic, or moral reasons; it has nothing to do with disliking the taste of meat.

Vegetarians have a large arsenal of faux meats to get them by. There is tofu, beans, tempeh, TVP, seiten, and a variety of packaged foods that resemble meat in flavor and texture but are completely animal free. Most of these, however, have wheat gluten in them, so my wife can't eat them, but there is one product from Lightlife called Smart Strips she can eat.

These come in 6-oz packages of chicken and beef, and they fill in quite well for meat in recipes. They have good flavor and they readily brown in a skillet. We recently picked up a package of beef and I wanted to try it out. So I found the following recipe in a Carribean cookbook, which I modified to use the strips, plus some other modifications.

Pepper Steak in Sherry Cream Sauce


1 Pkg Smart Strips, beef flavor
½ t Jamaican jerk seasoning
¼ t cayenne pepper
1 t paprika
½ t chili powder
1 small onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil, separated
¼ c sherry
2 T sour cream
3 T water
salt and pepper to taste


1. mix the spices (jerk seasoning, cayenne, paprika, and chili powder) together in a bowl. Add the beef strips and stir to blend. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 T olive oil. Saute the beef strips until browned. Remove from heat back to the bowl.

3. Add the remaining 1 T oil to the skillet and lower heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion is soft and slightly golden.

4. Add the sherry and simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Mix the sour cream and water together, then add to the pan. Stir well to combine. Add the beef strips back to the skillet and cook another 2-3 minutes to heat through.

6. Serve over rice.

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