Creating vegan adaptations of meat-based recipes is an art. I find it challenging yet so rewarding when I’m able to replace an animal-based protein in favour of a plant-protein. It’s often motivated by a recipe that I enjoyed a lot back when I wasn’t plant-based.
Thankfully, there are so many plant-based foods out there that provide us with the perfect meat substitute.
We’re used to seeing jackfruit and cauliflower replacing meat products but did you know that bananas are great for meatballs?
These are the 3 meat substitutes that’s a tiny bit different to the usual. Let me know in the comments if you’ve experimented and created wonderful things with these!
When I told my friends that I made these Vietnamese meat balls (nem nuong) with bananas they didn’t believe me!
Bananas have a wonderful texture to act as a meat substitute. They have a soft yet starchy consistency that allows you to mould the fruit into certain shapes. It’s perfect for meat balls, patties and ground meat.
But you have to choose the type and ripeness of the bananas carefully.
There are three main types of bananas that you’ll encounter at mainstream supermarkets and at Asian grocery stores.
- Cavendish banana – your well-known typical banana
- Lady finger bananas – are shorter and chubbier versions, very sweet when ripe
- Plantain bananas – notably larger and longer, higher starch component, less sweet
The plantain banana is the best one to use as a meat substitute. It’s less sweet compared to lady finger bananas and has a higher starch component. However, the plantain banana is often sold and eaten when its unripe and quite hard, so you’ll have to wait a few days until it starts to ripen.
On the other hand, the lady finger bananas are great to use in sweeter meat dishes.
In terms of the level of ripeness, I recommend erring on the more unripe side. You don’t want the bananas to ripen too much that it loses its starchness and become mushy. Also, you can always microwave the bananas to soften them up if need!
Shredded cabbage can be used as a meat substitute for many dishes.
While it doesn’t offer the same hearty and meaty texture like jackfruit and eggplant, cabbage provides textured pieces with a good crunch. How long you cook the cabbage will also help reduce the crunch if you want a more chewy consistency.
The best way to enjoy cabbage as a meat substitute is to mix it with lots of sauce and flavour. The mixture will then serve as a perfect filler for tacos, pies and dumplings.
Crushed walnuts are a great substitute for mince and ground meat.
Add your herbs and spices and pulse the walnuts in a food processor until course and crumbly. The trick is to keep the mince-like consistency and if pulsed for too long, the walnuts will turn into a smooth butter form.
These are great for taco meat and nut loaf. Go a step further and add in your favourite sauces to create a pasta bolognese!