With new health trends and food offerings cropping up all over the world, we were super excited to try out Impossible Food’s recently launched plant-based ground beef dishes.
In collaboration with Hong Kong dining group Dining Concepts, we tried four dishes created by four different chefs in the city in four different ways – all using the “meat” created by the American food company as their main ingredient.
Aydee: So today we’re going to talk about four dishes made with Impossible Foods’ not-really-meat “beef”.
Or rather, I’m going to talk about four of them, and Li Ying will talk about two of them.
Li Ying: Although Impossible Foods’ “meat” is 100 per cent plant-based and vegan-friendly, a lot of the restaurants that are rolling out menus while using it incorporate non-vegan ingredients. So beware, vegans! Always check if the cream or sauces are OK for you to consume.
Here's a little info for those sceptics still caught up in the past, who think vegetarian “meats” are full of chemicals, oils and soya, which are simply no good for you.
Impossible Foods’ “meat” is made completely with plant-based ingredients, such as wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, and heme – a special concoction that piqued my curiosity as a former sceptic of fake meat.
I asked Henry Woodward-Fisher, international launch manager at Impossible Foods, who said: “[Heme is] the main ingredient that drives the flavour for Impossible Foods’ ‘meat’.
“Heme is [found naturally] inside every animal and plant ... in a kind of protein called haemoglobin. To give the same flavour of meat to our creation, we found it in a plant – more specifically the leghaemoglobin derived from the roots of legumes.
“[We] mix it in with the rest of the ingredients, all plant-based, [which] gives the ‘meat’ a metallic bloody taste. A lot of vegans actually don’t love Impossible Foods’ meat because of that.”
No kidding. I have been pretty apprehensive about trying this, and have not had the urge to do so since I first heard of Impossible Foods.
However, having said that, Impossible Foods has made it possible for vegans to have proper meals (hurrah!) at popular restaurants.
It has also encouraged non-vegan diners to cut down on their meat consumption, especially beef, which contains slaughterhouse contaminants and cholesterol, thereby also reducing our carbon footprint and improving health conditions, which is great news all around.
Impossible Beef and Spinach Picadillo
A: Let’s start with the Impossible Beef and spinach picadillo that’s served in a butter lettuce cup. This is one of the dishes Li Ying actually got to try!
L: It absolutely tasted and smelled like beef, the way I remembered it – smoky, and a little gory, to be honest.
Again, I really do feel that Impossible Foods meat has upped the game for mock meats – it’s healthier and definitely tastes like the real deal, but the appeal is definitely targeted at non-vegan eaters more than the vegans.
In fact, a lot of vegans admittedly find it quite disturbing – that is how authentically meaty it tastes.
A: I’ll be honest, because we got a bite-sized version, I just kind of stuffed the whole thing in my mouth.
There was minimal seasoning, and I could really just enjoy the taste of the “meat”. I can’t say that it tastes exactly like the beef I’m used to, but it definitely surprised me that anything plant-based can taste so much like meat.
Chef Mike Boyle, of Alto Bar & Grill, in Causeway Bay said: “Impossible meat is easy to work with because it looks and tastes remarkably similar to beef, while also being a fully sustainable product. It’s a delicious and versatile item to work with.”
Impossible Meat American Style
A: So this one – created by chef Todd Williams of Bizou, in Pacific Place – had sour cream and isn’t fully vegan, but it’s definitely vegetarian.
With the cheese and the sour cream, and the fact that the ground-up Impossible meat came in the form of chilli, I genuinely couldn’t tell that it wasn’t meat.
L: Presentation-wise, it was ace. I would have loved to try it sans the sour cream. Put a call into the chef in advance, and I am sure they can cater to us fussy vegans.
Impossible Meat Burger
A: Li Ying didn’t get to try this one either, but I did!
I’m the kind of person that can take a bite into a piece of meat with my eyes closed and tell you whether it’s beef, pork, chicken or mutton, and I tried it with this burger.
I would definitely associate the taste with beef, but if I did a side by side comparison, I think the taste would be slightly different from a real beef patty.
L: Not only is the patty important for a burger, but also the buns!
I really was sorry to give this – created by chef Bhupendra Singh of Dear Lilly, in IFC Mall, Central – a miss, as it looked super delectable to the eye with its fluffy buns and oozing cut of Impossible Foods meat.
A: OK, this one – created by chef Budiana – is definitely my favourite.
I’m not going to say anything more about the meat resemblance. For this one, I’m all about the flavour.
Not only is the meat caramelised, it is perfectly created with Asian flavours offering a nice spicy kick. Whether this is meat or not, the dish itself is superb, and I would definitely order it with any meal I have in Mama San, in Central.
L: I definitely agree – it is my No 1 favourite out of all the dishes featured at the tasting as well.
The marinated Impossible Foods “meat” soaked up all the spices and was charred to perfection.