Award-winning chef Sam Cover of Spokane Valley suggests three of his favorite plant-based alternatives to meat in popular dishes.
With more and more people switching to plant-based lifestyles, chefs worldwide are increasingly turning to meat alternatives to create new recipes and variations of existing dishes to suit this growing meat-free population. A multi-award-winning chef and restaurateur from Spokane Valley, culinary expert Sam Cover highlights a trio of his top plant-based proteins, including jackfruit and seitan.
“There’s never been a higher demand for plant-based meat alternatives,” explains Sam Cover of Spokane Valley, speaking from his home in easternmost Washington. Focusing on tofu, jackfruit, and seitan, the award-winning chef and Pacific Northwest native provides an expert look at three of his favorites.
Among the most well-known meat alternatives and one which has been a staple in vegan and vegetarian cooking for decades, Sam Cover Spokane Valley first provides a closer look at tofu. “Tofu often elicits a negative reaction, even from some vegetarians and vegans,” suggests the expert.
This, Sam Cover Spokane Valley believes, is because, as an ingredient, tofu has long been prepared in ways that detract from its true potential. Tofu has a distinct but subtle taste which, it’s said, some people enjoy and others do not. However, according to Sam Cover Spokane Valley, cooked correctly, it carries other flavors exceptionally well.
The texture of tofu, too, Sam Cover says, often turns people off. “Again, this comes down to preparation, and cooked in the right manner, tofu can often nicely replicate the textures of a wealth of popular animal protein derivatives,” adds the chef.
Particularly high in protein, tofu is also inexpensive and widely available – further reasons why Sam Cover Spokane Valley rates it among his top plant-based meat alternatives. Use it, he says, in soups and stews, fried, or grilled like a piece of meat.
Next, Sam Cover turns to jackfruit. Somewhat incredibly, before the mango-like jackfruit ripens, its flesh bears an incredible similarity to pork or chicken, he reports. “Even the most fervent meat eaters will often attest that jackfruit is an incredibly convincing meat substitute,” says the chef, “particularly in pulled pork dishes.”
With an extremely meaty texture, high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and readily absorbing flavor, Sam Cover Spokane Valley also suggests trying jackfruit in stir-fries and curries, and experimenting with other dishes which traditionally call for chicken or pork.
Third among the Washington-based chef’s three best plant-based meat alternatives, meanwhile, is seitan. “Made from wheat gluten, seitan is high in protein, low in fat, and relatively low in carbohydrates,” explains Sam Cover Spokane.
Mild tasting and chewy, it lends itself perfectly, Sam Cover Spokane Valley suggests, to replacing a variety of meats in any number of recipes. “It’s particularly tasty in a sloppy joe sandwich,” adds the expert in closing, “replacing ground beef or pork and served with onions, tomato sauce, and seasoning on a hamburger bun, although as it’s gluten-based, it should be avoided by those who are intolerant.”