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Jan 30, 2011 07:33 PM

Does vegetarian pork belly exist?? Hmmm....

I'm just tossing an idea around in my head-- I am making pork belly momofuku style buns for my chinese new years party- and was wondering if something similar could be made ... but vegetarian!!??

Crazy talk. I know.

What a challenge-- finding a pork belly type of texture and flavor enhancer -- but vegetarian...

does anyone have any ideas?

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  1. Well, I've seen recipes for seitan bacon.... I would however have no idea if it is a match for texture and flavor to what you need.


    Worth a shot ?

    1. Vegetarian Cha Siu? Not sure about making it from scratch, I usually just buy it from a store, but here is a recipe:

      Chinese vegetarian food have a lot of products that are "fake" meats..some just look like meat, others do have the taste & texture. Most are made of tofu, wheat gluten, soy beans etc. You can find them at special vegetarian stores/restaurants, and sometimes asian supermarkets.

      If there is a chinese buddhist temple near by, it might be worthwhile to give them a call to see if they can give you any recommendations to find these products locally.

      1. Could involve some experiment with meat substitutes and some gels or gums, like agar agar and guar gum. Not sure what all you'd do, though.

          1. re: joonjoon

            ha ha! I think I am inclined to side with you on this one. The seitan bacon recipes floating around don't even look that good, and I love seitan!

            1. re: codychop

              Sorry, didn't mean to be a douche but I honestly feel like certain things aren't worth imitating. :) And pork belly is just one of those nature's magical creations...I just don't see how any vegetarian concoction can come close to duplicating that taste and texture.

          2. I think it would be best if you use shitake mushrooms. That's what David Chang uses in his vegetarian version.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              Oh wow! I didn't know he had a veg version - hmmm, shitakes...I wonder if he used fresh or rehydrated?

              1. re: codychop

                From the pics I've seen (I eat meat so I always order the pork), they are the rehydrated ones. I think the rehydrated shitakes tend to be chewier and have more of a "meat-like" texture.

                Here's a recipe from somebody who adapted Chang's recipe.


                1. re: Miss Needle

                  And layers of silken tofu could mimic the silky fatty layer, or try to : )

                  1. re: babette feasts

                    I quite like the "mock duck" you can buy in cans in Asian groceries--Companion is my brand of choice. (They make a mock pork, too, but I don't think it's as good.) It's gluten based.

                    I think a mix of slivered mock duck and slivered silken tofu (and maybe some slivered soaked shitakes) would be worth playiong around with. Me, I'd put in some sliced scallions, too.

                    1. re: femmevox

                      Wow! Thanks for the info about the mock duck! I'm going to try it! i think the mock duck, shitakes, green onion, hoisin, and maybe some pickles... I'll try to post the result.

                      1. re: codychop

                        I realize that pork belly is not necessarily smoked, but smoke flavor is so often associated with bacon that it might be a nice addition to your experiment.

                        1. re: babette feasts

                          You also could think of trying smoked tofu. We're huge fans of it in stir-fry, and it makes a mean veggie carbonara. It definitely vaguely mimics the umami of pork.