Monday, March 11, 2013

Basic vegetarian rissoles

My gastronomical enthusiasm for supermarket minced steak (for my standard chile con carne dish) was dampened by the recent horse-meat affair. And vegetarian urgings emerged in my imagination. Unfortunately, such urgings remain largely cerebral, rather than making my mouth water. That's surely a cultural failing due to the fact that I've never really been initiated by friends, restaurants and fine cooking into the marvels of meals without meat. To be totally honest, I lived for years under the ridiculous illusion that vegetarians were weirdos with visceral links (maybe there's a better adjective than "visceral") to astrologists, alchemists, religious ascetics, Seventh-Day Adventists and six-day bike-riders. I imagined that you would only have to ingurgitate a few vegetarian dishes and you would soon find yourself refusing, not only pork, but alcohol and vaccinations. Retrospectively, I realize to what extent I've often "reasoned"—even as an adult—in a ridiculous mindless fashion, governed by a set of stupid superstitions, no doubt developed during my boyhood. So I hardly need to explain that I remain, for the moment, an uninspired and uninformed vegetarian cook: the equivalent of the proverbial husband in the kitchen who can't boil an egg.

Back in 2011, I was proud to have unfathomed, as it were, the secrets of a mythical meat dish from a Greek restaurant of my student years in Sydney [access]. Today, my culinary achievements, far more modest, are presented in the following dull photo, which would be rejected instantly by any self-respecting cooking magazine or website.

Here, there is no horse meat. Indeed, there is no meat of any kind whatsoever. My delicious rissoles are fake steaks, concocted out of soy protein and dried cereals (oats, wheat, etc).

I was interested to learn that it's easy to store such uncooked rissoles in the deep-freezer. And they can then be cooked easily and rapidly on an iron grill plate placed above my gas burners, with a little olive oil.

As you can gather from the presence of the two bottles in my photo, I tend to be a heavy-handed user of both Worcestershire sauce (like my Walker uncles out in Australia) and soy sauce... which explains why my vegetable mixture (deep-frozen product) has a blackish look. Basically, though, the above meal is unadulterated (clearly-identified ingredients), tasty and healthy.


  1. I love the idea of your vegetarian rissoles. Seems I'm in the same boat. The conscience says not to eat meat, but I still love a good salami. (sigh).

  2. My only hesitation would be uncertainty about GM, particularly in the soy.

    But I must disclose that I am a landholder and my family raise sheep and cattle... which probably also explains in part my aversion to fish.

  3. Annie: While it's a fact that Monsanto is certainly playing a huge role in soybean production for animals, I've never heard of fears that old-fashioned Chinese soy sauce might be genetically modified. I've remained faithful, for ages, to the famous Pearl River Bridge brand, whose label states explicitly that it's GMO-free. A consumer should probably be more wary of the Scottish-made Worcestershire sauce, which is indeed a rather mysterious product (on a par with Vegemite). During their entire lives, my Walker uncles (dairy farmers on the outskirts of Grafton) smothered their daily grilled steaks in this so-called "black sauce".

    You mention the fact that you're a landholder with links (operational?) to meat production. My father was a beef grazier up at Nymboida. His firm conviction that he was playing a significant role in feeding humanity seemed to inspire him more than the down-to-earth aim of making money. Personally, I've always preferred lamb, pork and poultry to beef. And I'm fond of fish products of every kind. A major milestone in my relationship with meat was the lengthy experience of calling upon a local butcher to slaughter regularly my Gamone lambs. I realized that killing a lamb and preparing its meat could be a perfectly natural human operation, of an archaic nature (not to be confused with crazy Biblical tales about slaughtering lambs as sacrifices to Yahveh).

    The theme of my vegetarian "steaks" was merely fallout from the current scare concerning the possible presence of horse meat in certain supermarket products marked as beef... including—I would imagine—minced steak. Finally, I intend to offer myself, as soon as possible, a fabulous KitchenAid mixer (I already own a red KitchenAid coffee grinder) with a food grinder enabling me to produce my own minced steak. Incidentally, I love modern kitchen appliances almost as much as I love computers.

    Talking about sauces, did you notice that the Australian company that makes Rosella tomato sauce has abandoned this activity?