What vegan whole-foods would absorb sauce flavours the way Quorn does?
June 20, 2018 12:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm enjoying using jarred curry sauces to make curry at home: curry sauce + Quorn pieces + leafy veg; stir till cooked through, and serve with rice or bulgur. I like that Quorn has a texture that allows it to absorb sauce flavours (as would meat). However, I'd like to decrease my use of Quorn and move towards more unprocessed foods. I'm just not sure what vegan whole-foods I could combine with curry sauces to give a result that feels coherent, with the veg absorbing the flavours.
posted by tangerine_poppies to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I would look to the Indian veg curry staples - cauliflower potato peas chick peas etc.
posted by eastboundanddown at 12:46 AM on June 20, 2018 [16 favorites]

Tempeh is really good.
posted by Gymnopedist at 12:55 AM on June 20, 2018

Eggplant! Its best if you roast it seperately before mixing with other vegs and sauce, but it is perfekt for what you want. Now I want a vegan curry.
posted by mumimor at 1:00 AM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

I feel like the classic answer to this is beans and lentils. Kidney beans are particularly nice in some curries, I think, and of course lentils are extremely versatile and you can make them into things like balls and patties before simmering in sauce because they're so fast to rehydrate.
posted by Mizu at 1:06 AM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

The first thing that comes to mind is fried tofu, but that might soak up TOO much sauce and also be too processed.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:13 AM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

lentils (if having lentils with rice isn't weird to you)

I find broccoli treelings hold sauce very well in the head. I only use it with more peanutty-type sauces/curries I guess, not sure what type of curries you're making. Cauliflower ditto. Halved brussels sprouts also have a lot of folds in which to trap the sauce (I think they go better with sauces/curries that have lemon or another sour component in them).

Would you be up for frying/baking up some crumbed veggies or something? The crumb would still soak up the sauce, and it's less processed than things like Quorn.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 1:16 AM on June 20, 2018

Oops, I put treelings as a placeholder word for when I remembered that it’s florets but then I forgot about it. Florets.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 1:28 AM on June 20, 2018 [54 favorites]

Seconding: Chickpeas, eggplant (I loooooove eggplant in curry), cauliflower, potato
Adding: Sweet potato. I agree fried tofu may soak up too much, but I like using medium or firm tofu. I've had some success with tempeh but it takes a lot of soaking. Zucchini works, but don't add it in too early as it gets mushy on a turn. In contrast, I think carrots also work well if they are cooked in the sauce long enough.
posted by like_neon at 2:03 AM on June 20, 2018

You can make seitan at home fairly easily if you like something textured and protein filled.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 4:25 AM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

^ heh, wrong link
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:51 AM on June 20, 2018

Here’s a link for seitan

Not sure if rinsing wheat flour to get high-gluten flour makes it lose whole food status, but it rocks in many vegan dishes, soaks up flavors well (you can mix spices in before kneading too), and imo has a great meaty mouthfeel.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:33 AM on June 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oyster mushrooms
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:36 AM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Whole grains, buckwheat especially are also good absorbers. Kashas are delicious, often nutty, and are minimally processed.
posted by Yavsy at 6:09 AM on June 20, 2018

What about jackfruit? Never tried it in curry, but it's popular for absorbing flavors. I've seen it for sale fresh occasionally, but my local grocery store also has some in the freezer section.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:36 AM on June 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

Button mushrooms soak up a ton of sauce. I love fancy mushrooms, but sometimes a bunch of cheap button mushrooms in a super tasty sauce is all I want.
posted by advicepig at 6:38 AM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

To get a texture like store-bought fried tofu without the fried part, you can freeze then thaw normal blocks of firm tofu. The process changes the texture to be more porous and chewy.
posted by BeHereNow at 7:04 AM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding jackfruit, but don’t get fresh unless you want to spend a lot of time preparing it. Jackfruit should be labeled young or green. Mature jackfruit is sweet, so that’s not what you want here. Canned jackfruit should be packed in brine or water. I order this from Amazon.
posted by FencingGal at 7:06 AM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge fan of the highly processed not-meats, but I've been trying to go the less processed route as well for my meat-like texture and flavor requirements. I like using a variety of mushrooms. For a curry, I would use something less earthy: king oyster, enoki, chanterelle.

If you were ever a fan of fish curry, add some lobster mushroom, too. MMMMmmmm!

If you're willing to go more processed than mushroom, but not as processed as corn, and want something that completely and totally absorbs flavor, nothing beats Butler Soy Curls. NOTHING.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

You might like pakora / pakodi / kadhi - dumplings made from chickpea flour. They soak up curry sauces really nicely. Often deep fried, but you can also bake them.
posted by moonmilk at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

Quorn is a fungus, and I agree with folks above that mushrooms are very similar in cooking.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:33 AM on June 20, 2018

Seconding gynopedist's recommendation of tempeh. It's relatively cheap, versatile, and it's nice to have friendly fungi helping to make soybeans palatable and digestible!
posted by Agave at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2018

Red lentils absorb sauces really well. They get very soft and almost blend into whatever you are cooking.
posted by gryphonlover at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2018

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