Saturday, 21 July 2012

Meet Your Meat Substitutes: Mock Duck Review

When I started on my Meet Your Meat Substitutes journey to try out high protein vegan and vegetarian meat replacements, I knew that one day, a duck would cross my path, specifically a Mock Duck. I won't deny it, I was little bit scared of this one. Alternatives to mince, chicken, burgers, and sausages have become so common place that we take them for granted, but something as gamey as duck...and in a can? That is a bold ask. But, MYMS is about trying new things, expanding my palette and trying what's tasty, so here we go.

First question: what exactly is Mock Duck? Well, it's wheat gluten marinated in a soy based sauce and shaped into duck style pieces for use as a duck meat replacement. It was originally developed by Chinese monks and it is now available throughout the UK courtesy of the fine folks at GranoVita. And it's vegan.

Now to answer the next question: is it any good?

Review: Good
The meatiness of this meat substitute is most manifested by the it's fibrous texture, which I'll get to in a bit, and the fact that it's quite filling. It looks delicate but it's actually got a lot of body and can be marinated overnight like one would with chicken. This, combined with the dark colour of the pieces, pretty much explains where the 'duck' reference comes from.
Yep, mock duck out of the tin looks like it's been plucked!
I have two words for you on this: Plucked duck. Yes. It's true. Your pieces of mock duck will look as if they have been plucked before they were canned. At first, I found this to be both perplexing and off putting, but as this has been a part of the mock duck experience since it was a specialty item in Chinatown supermarkets, I've decided that it's charming. Once you get past the 'skin', the fibrous texture of the gluten is similar to what you would expect when you pull apart poultry. And each piece is firm and bouncy to the touch.

Discussion on the web about Mock Duck seems to show it as a bit of a marmite meat substitute: some people love it and some people just hate it.  And like I said, I was a little bit nervous about this one. But after the first bite, the mystery was over because the truth is that mock duck tastes almost exactly like tinned Braised Tofu. And if you've never had braised tofu, then I should explain that it's got a smokey salty almost mushroomy taste. I like it, but it might not be your thing.
Mock Duck Kebabs with Grilled Mushroom on the side
I was having a bit of busy week and so tried mock duck in a little Grilled Mock Duck Kebab meal and in a Quick Mock Duck Coconut Stir Fry.  Both recipes are quick and easy. For the kebabs, I added the some of the marinade from the tin, soy sauce, pepper and garlic. Then I stuck them onto wet skewers, and put them on the grill. Voila! For the Stir fry, I sauteed mock duck, onions, peppers garlic and mushrooms until the onions were soft and then smothered the whole thing in coconut milk. It took about ten minutes and was mighty nice. If you've got more time, there are lots of good recipes across the web for things like Mock Duck Pancakes, Mock Duck Cashew Stir Fry, or Granovita's own Mock Duck Ragu. Fried, steamed, stewed, there are tons of things that can be done with mock duck, so it definitely scores highly there.

Overall, I was surprised by mock duck because I wasn't really expecting to like it. But it's pretty good and I'm actually looking forward to trying out the pancakes sometime soon.

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