I have become quite fond of Butler Soy Curls.
Butler Soy Curls are an unseasoned and unflavored vegan meat substitute made from sliced dehydrated bean curd. Although there are other dried bean curd products available, Butler Soy Curls have become my favorite.
Te Chang, pictured above, produces a variety of a sweet marinated dried bean curd. This is a Taiwanese import and in Taiwan, people eat such products straight out of the bag just as Americans might enjoy a bag of chips.
Although Te Chang makes a tasty product, the inclusion of sugar makes this product only suitable for vegetarians who don’t mind using products with granulated white sugar. Suitable vegetarian versions of this brand include black pepper and vegetarian flavors.
I have also tried another import – a Chengdu brand dried tofu (pictured far left. A Te Chang marinated tofu is pictured on the right.) The Chengdu brand was thick, heavy, and not particularly flavorful.
Of the three brands of dried tofu that I’ve mentioned in this post, my favorite remains Butler Soy Curls.
Although this product MAY NOT be eaten straight out of the bag as you might with the Chengdu or Te Chang brands, the fact that Butler Soy Curls are dried means that they may be rehydrated. Rehydrating this product in a flavorful broth makes them tender and more importantly, provides some much need flavor.
If you’ve ever worked with fresh tofu, you probably know that immersing fresh tofu in a flavorful liquid like a soup will cause this product to absorb the flavor of that soup. The same thing happens with Butler Soy Curls. If you want a chicken flavor, rehydrate it in a vegan chicken broth. If you want a beef flavor, cook it in some vegan beef broth. You can even use Butler Soy Curls to make vegan fish by cooking it with kelp powder and lemon juice.
Soy curls may also be colored using food dyes. Use orange (red and yellow) to simulate crab or lobster. Leave the soy curls uncolored if simulating vegan fish or chicken. Dye the dried curd brown (red, yellow, and blue) to simulate the color of cooked pork or beef.
Pictured left are some Butler Soy Curls that I used to create a vegan Sichuan Pork. The recipe for this may be found in my book: Unintentional Vegan: Pork
Pictured below are some soy curls that I used to make a vegan Thai chicken satay. I have also used soy curls to make a vegan chicken curry as well as a chicken salad and an old fashioned chicken with dumplings. Recipes for all four of these products may be found in:
I am currently working on a vegan seafood cookbook which I plan to publish before the end of this year. I have used Butler Soy Curls to make crab cakes, Lobster Thermidor, and Cantonese Fish. (See pictures below.)
Soy curls are a versatile product and they’re quite affordable, especially compared to the price of real lobster, crab, beef, and pork.