Mmmm...(fake) deer...
March 25, 2009 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to make meat substitute taste like fried venison?

I'm from the south, and deer was a winter staple in my childhood. My father would slice it about a 1/4"-1/2" thick, batter it in flour, salt, garlic salt, and pepper, and fry it in a skillet in vegetable oil.

I would like to reproduce this wonderful taste without using meat. Most people recommend that when cooking with tofu (or other meat substitutes), you simply get the fake meat the right consistency and cook it as you normally would meat; it will absorb the flavors of the seasoning and taste similar.

However, I am not looking for the taste of the seasonings; I'm looking for the taste that is inherently missing inside the tofu. Clearly battering tofu in salt, garlic salt, pepper and flour will just make it taste like those things. Someone recommended worcestershire sauce, but I do not have any without anchovies in it.

I am coming up short when I look for recipes. This seems to be an elusive phantom idea among vegetarians.

Do you know how to make fake meat (any kind, I'm not limited to just tofu) taste like venison?

Thanks in advance.
posted by starbaby to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I always thought portobella mushrooms had more of a meaty taste and texture than most meat substitutes. Could you try that?
posted by ian1977 at 12:06 PM on March 25, 2009

you should probably try your hand at making some seitan. making it yourself will allow you to experiment with the flavors a bit.
posted by gnutron at 12:14 PM on March 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

There is vegan Worcestershire sauce out there. Annie's makes one I think. And I think some Bragg's amino acids would help too. As for the texture, I'd bet that some kind of mixture of seitan and tempeh may get you a bit closer than tofu. But actually taste like venison? I'm not sure. What about starting with one of the fake meat products like those chicken strips?
posted by barnone at 12:20 PM on March 25, 2009

seconding the portabella mushrooms option instead of tofu. Venison has this weird taste I'm usually trying to hide, not emphasize... You could also try a little liquid smoke.

dad's cooking venison again -- quick, order pizza!
posted by lizbunny at 1:31 PM on March 25, 2009

Seitan is a good option - try marinating it in soy sauce and maybe the vegan worchestershire, then adding some nutritional yeast to the flour before you fry it. You're looking for that umami flavor that meat has and tofu lacks - seitan can come pretty close - but it's never going to taste like wild game, not in a million years.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:39 PM on March 25, 2009

I think the answer is pretty much no, you can't make tofu taste like venison. You can try the above tricks with soy sauce and/or Worcestershire and it will make it look more like meat and taste a little saltier and more umami, but it's hard enough to make meat substitutes closely resemble even really bland meats (see the numerous varieties of fake turkey on the market, and those benefit from research labs, flavor additives of all kinds, and an industrial manufacturing process), much less venison, which is one of the strongest most complex tasting of meats.
posted by agent99 at 2:35 PM on March 25, 2009

Aside from the whole an animal died objection (very reasonable, even if I dont agree with it myself), a lot of the common problems people have with the meat industry do not really apply in the case of venison. Perhaps it is worthy of an exception. It would be even better if you went out and got it yourself, as that would create a more personal relationship between you and your food and also allow you to stock your freezer with an animal protein that you humanely (debatable) harvested yourself.

Also, as a former vegetarian I am of the opinion that portabellos do not taste like meat, and are not a decent substitute.
posted by BobbyDigital at 4:56 PM on March 25, 2009

You could try to investigate Jacob's methods. It seemed convincing for Isaac. On a moments reflection I suppose that wouldn't work as he used beef instead of venison, so still meat.
posted by ericales at 9:02 PM on March 25, 2009

I don't think you'll ever get tofu to taste like venison, but have you tried marinating the tofu before cooking? Helps give it more flavor.
posted by at 1:01 PM on March 26, 2009

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