Vantastic Foods. What attracted me to this product and why I thought I should give it a chance was when I read it had just two ingredients. Soy flour and water! What could something taste like with just those two ingredients and what would the texture be like?
So I undertook the process. The first time I ate one, just hydrated in veggie Base, and a quick fry....just as the instructions suggest. The result was one of potential but not great. Textured was okay but like it promises there is no additional flavor. Luckily the website does mention a that it might be better with their spice mix. I don't know about their own spice mix but adding flavor is key.
Online it say to hydrate for 5 to 10 min on the package it says 10 min, I found it best at around 15 min. And when making your stock (whether from scratch or powder form) make it a bit salter then you would normally make your stock. This helps with the overall flavor.
Also, like most products that require hydration it's a very good idea to really strain the extra stock out of the product, this means using your hands (when the product is cool enough not to burn) and really squeezing each medallion, so all the extra built up stock comes out. Very Important!
It was a tricky product to test. I had to come up with what the intention of the product was. i.e. what was it trying to simulate.
Reading the package, it suggested everything from Schnitzel to Grilled Steaks to Nuggets. So with this product the intention as I saw was all about texture and creativity. A blank canvas to which one can create and the texture to support such a creation.
I love nuggets. They aren't good for you but they can be tasty not to mention the BBQ sauce (or for some Americans Ranch) can be additive. So, I thought I would bread, fry and dip.
The Process: Hydrate for 15min in a liter of salty broth with a tbsp of dried sage, tsp of garlic and a tsp of thyme. Dry well, and I used a classic breading (flour, egg, bread crumb). In keeping with the idea of keeping the product vegan, also tried coating one of the medallions in mustard and rolling in gently in bread crumbs and frying to equal if not slightly better but a lot messier results. Using enough oil (you need to about 1.5cm of oil) and this is important the oil must MUST must be hot before you put in the breaded pieces. Otherwise the breading will just absorb the grease and then you will be eating a greasy mess.
But on the other hand if the oil is too hot, you will burn not cook. So, what's the right amount. The oil should be hot enough that there is a thin wisp of smoke but not too much. Use medium heat and be very cautious. I have in my life had many an oil burn most of which have left scars. Not fun.
The result: Much what I expected. The flavor is as good as you are as a cook. The better and more flavors added to the product; the better the product. The texture holds well and overall it was very enjoyable.
Next, I needed to go with something a bit different. Something not breaded but still loaded with some flavor and since I bought a big bottle of BBQ sauce, I thought what after I hydrated the product would there still be some way of marinating the medallions and having bbq bites (I don't know what else to call them right now....maybe an ideal will come later)
The process: After hydration and draining of extra fluids. Take your favorite BBQ sauce add a little water (just to thin out a bit) and cover the medallions for about an hour. Drain again and fry. About 2 or 3mins on each side. Until caramelized. It is important in this process that the product is cooked at a medium to high heat. Some of the sugars from the BBQ will start to get a bit darker but there is a big difference in flavor from a little color (see about) to a burnt product but it's a fine line in terms of cooking time and temperature. If you are unsure cook it a tiny bit less. Better not caramelized then burnt.
The Result: Much like the breaded product. It is as good as you want it. The product does as advertised, it holds the texture and a person can add pretty much what ever you can think of and get a good result.
So my overall feeling is one of puzzlement. Two ingredients. Soy flour and water. The people at Vantastic Foods and their parent company AVE (Absolute Vegan Empire) (great name by the way!) have stumped me and this doesn't happen often. How they managed to get so much texture with just soy flour and water. But they managed to do this and the results are fantastic. It is exactly like a blank canvas. Easy to work with and virtually endless variety of possible dishes. The product does its job so you can do yours.