Making the choice to cut down on your meat consumption can be challenging when it comes to re-learning how to cook and feed yourself. Enjoying tasty food is one of the greatest pleasures of being alive, and I understand why meat-eaters get wide, scared eyes when I tell them I haven’t eaten chicken in more than 10 years. Though I don’t eat chicken, I certainly can taste it! There are many recipes here on One Green Planet with “chicken” in the title and chicken flavor, and it’s much easier to mimic your favorite chicken dishes than you may expect. Here are some ways to cook plant-based meals with all the favorite flavor and texture of chicken:
1. Choose Extra Firm Tofu
Tofu is a wonderful ingredient to use as a base for your chicken-inspired, chicken-free dish. There are several types of tofu for sale, so making sure to buy firm tofu instead of silken tofu is crucial. Firm tofu has more of a tough, chewy texture that is better for mimicking chicken. Using tofu is also a good choice because it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with, so you can achieve your desired chicken taste with ease. Make sure to remove excess moisture from the tofu by wrapping tofu in a dry towel and flipping it multiple times so the liquid drains from both sides equally. Use extra firm tofu in this Vegan Paneer Tikka Masala.
2. Try Tempeh
Tempeh is a soy product like tofu, but it has a much tougher and grainier texture than tofu. Depending on the recipe you’re making, choosing tempeh over tofu is a good bet. For cold dishes, like this Mock Chicken Salad, using tempeh as a stand-in for chicken is a good idea.
3. Use Chicken-Flavored Bouillon
For making soup and stews in particular, throw in a vegan, chicken-flavored bouillon cube or base to give an overall chicken flavor. There are several chicken-flavored stocks and bouillon cubes available at the grocery store that are not actually made with any chicken. Use chicken-flavored bouillon in this Gluten-Free Vegan Chicken and these Potato Chip-Encrusted “Chicken” Salad Sandwiches.
4. Choose Cashews and Nut Milk for Creaminess
Many chicken dishes have a nice creaminess to them that is like comfort on a plate. Luckily, in plant-based cooking we have a few options for adding a rich, creamy texture and taste to vegan dishes that helps to mimic chicken dishes. In this Chicken-Less Pot Pie Soup, use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, soy creamer and soy milk to get a similar creamy consistency and taste as a creamy chicken dish.
5. Sprinkle Nutritional Yeast and Spices
Since the base ingredients like tofu can take on whatever flavor you cook with it, choose the same spices and herbs as you would for a chicken dish. Nutritional yeast, onion powder and garlic powder work well. Use onion, garlic and smoked paprika in this “Chicken” Green Chili and Hominy Posole.
Thanks to the bounty of vegan food products available like tofu and soy milk, as well as go-to spices like garlic, onion and paprika, making chicken dishes into a vegan-friendly dish is much simpler than one may think!
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