What happens when you removing meat from meatloaves?
Japan is increasingly aware of the plant-based lifestyle, such as “Komeda Is □” plant-based coffee, and recently our Japanese-speaking journalist Takashi Harada made an interesting discovery in his local supermarket by the Japanese confectionery company Imuraya: vegan nikuman, or meat buns, made with soy meat.
▼ Even the photo on the packaging looks like a non-vegetable nikuman.
This “soy meat man” has been made since July 2020, and when it was released it was quite popular but since it contained eggs it was not considered vegan. Recently, however, they updated their recipe so that it no longer includes animal products..
▼ Slowly but surely, vegan options like this are on the rise.
A pair of soy meat buns cost Takashi 278 yen (US$2.25). It’s a little pricey for a typical nikuman, which usually costs 130 yen a pop, but it wasn’t a big enough difference for him to complain. He zapped it in the microwave, then cut it in half to examine the insides.
▼ Would you be able to tell it’s herbal?
It could have fooled him! To Takashi, it looked convincingly like a meat nikuman. It didn’t even smell of soy, which confused his senses even more.
▼ Not the normal way to eat it, by the way; it’s just for science.
Spoiler: Turned out to be the tastiest soy meat Takashi had never tried. The texture was like a normal meat-based nikuman (usually filled with pork). Umami-filled ingredients like bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms convinced him even more.
▼”Tastes like meat!!”
The only thing missing was the typical juiciness of the meat, but that wasn’t enough for him to degrade the flavor. And when he considered the fact that he had zero cholesterolhe thought that from a health perspective, it could be a regular snack in his rotation.
▼ But did it pass Takashi’s other important taste test?
He still had one thing left to test: would it go well with a popular nikuman dip made with vinegar and soy sauce from his hometown of Fukuoka?
▼ First step: drown in vinegar soy sauce.
He quickly made the sauce and gave the soy meat man a nice, long dip. To his pleasant surprise, it was delicious! He gave it a perfect mark.
▼ Here’s another close-up of soy meat to convince you even more.
Overall, Takashi thinks everyone should try this soy meat bun, especially if you want to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet for health reasons. It tastes much better than some soy meat products on the market, and it pairs well with anything Nikuman is supposed to be associated with. And to chase it away, you can have an apple pie ice cream bar from the same company!
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