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Oct 27, 2006 06:30 AM

TVP / TSP - tasty?

Looking at a few cheap-o recipe sites, some people use textured vegetable protein (TVP) aka textured soy protein (TSP).

It doesn't hit me as something that would be tasty. Wikipedia says ...

"TSP can replace ground beef in most recipes, completely or partly. It can also replace up to 33% tuna fish in tuna salad. It is high in protein and low in fat and sodium. It is also a good source of fiber and isoflavones."

A couple of years ago a request for info got a mainly negative response with one person saying you have to know how to cook it.

So is this stuff any good? Just how cheap is it?

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  1. When my teenaged daughter decided to become vegetarian a few years back (this lasted for four years), I played around with TVP. It takes on the flavours of whatever you soak it in. I made bolognese sauce, taco mixtures, shepherd's pie, etc., using TVP. It really is a good product, and doesn't really have much flavour on its own, so it's not off-putting.

    I've also used Yves Veggie Ground Round (Original flavour), but prefer the dried TVP. With the "ground round" stuff, you're getting salt and other ingredients that you have no control over. Using only TVP, you have complete control.

    To use TVP, rehydrate it according to package directions, or add it directly into a sauce you're making (just make the sauce is a little more watery to allow for absorption by the TVP). If you rehydrate it first, add it to the sauce during the last 10 minutes of cooking. If adding it dry into the sauce, cook just until it's the texture you're after.

    1. It's not cheap when you buy it from Whole Foods! It can be really good. My MIL makes koh-fu and it's delicious and I've had it at vegetarian restaurants and it's great. I've tried to make it myself but it's terrible. I use very little oil, though, and I'm wondering if that's the difference. When I use ground meat, I have replaced up to half with crumbled extra firm tofu. As long as there is a lot of flavor to the meat, you can't tell (like sloppy joes or spaghetti sauce).

      1. TVP is not expensive if you buy it at a local natural foods store. I agree with chowser - Whole Foods is not the place to get it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: FlavoursGal

          it's actually rather cheap if you purchast it from a natural foods store in my nick of the woods. i've used it similarly to flavoursgal, you just need to ensure that you have enough liquid to get a good consistency/non-crunchy texture out of it.

          i unfortunately can't give you a good description of it's flavour, but i made myself a massive shepherd's pie for a family thanksgiving one year and set it out for anyone curious. my uncle quite enjoyed it after querying me for a bit and had seconds.

          i never go for the big brand already hydrated, they just over salt things and use flavours i don't find particular appealing. the dried stuff comes in little rice crispies size bits, small cubes or flakes sometimes.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            How long can plain TVP be stored for in a sealed plastic container or bag? If you freeze it, what is its life span?

            I have made vegetarian chili with it. The cumbersome process I find with it is that after I let it absorb the hot water for five minutes or so, I need to drain it in a strainer basket, and unless I completely drain/strain it, when I put it in a chili mixture, the water that has not been completely drained, ruins the consistency of the chili with the unwanted extra water still hangin' around.

            I have found a preference for the preseasoned TVP in other products. Beats my seasoning and resulting texture from my treatment of the stuff.

            I still eat the stuff in vegetarian products, but I can appreciate the arguement for not eating the stuff, due to the arguement about it being highly processed. So, I eat it and put myself into a mindset that it's ok and better than some other food that would be a worse choice. In other words, I believe there are better foods to eat, but also far worse.

            1. re: FelafelBoy

              i've stored it for a couple of months without a problem, but i haven't really tested to see how long it would last. i'm not vege anymore.

              i would never suggest soaking it in hot water, mostly because you'll get very little flavour out of it. i would initially incorporate it into your chili dry with a little excess water/tomato sauce/other liquid until it reaches the consistency you want.

              the preseasoned stuff just doesn't appeal to me personally, but i can see the benefit of it. they're just usually not quite the flavours i'm looking for.

              the thing is, it all depends on why you're vegetarian. i know someone who does it for political/environmental reasons but he'll eat all this processed stuff often. doesn't quite make sense to me.

        2. The only way I could get myself to enjoy TVP was when I cooked it with a big mix of vegetables and curried the heck out of the whole thing. Then, it was really not bad at all over rice.

          1. I will occasionally substitute it for half the meat in something. Last week, I had half a pound of ground beef left and wanted to make chili, but needed more than the half pound. So I rehydrated TVP in some beef broth with chili seasonings and added it in as I cooked. No one can tell the difference.
            I don't know if I would use it for all the meat and expect it to be a reasonable 'fake' but it works well in saucy things like chili, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, taco meat etc. Basically, if anyone has made a casserole out of it, you can use some TVP in it. Or at least those have been the recipes I have had good luck with.
            And it is inexpensive at my health-food store, and since it is shelf stable for a LONG time, it is just a handy thing to have around just in case.