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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, July 5, 2000

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
In Gina Carroll's Endless Summer Rolls,
a soy product takes the place of meat.

Sneaking in the soy

By Betty Shimabukuro


The joy of soy escapes a lot of us. We've heard it's a fabulous substance, that tofu, whole soybeans and other soy products have advantages over meat both nutritionally and environmentally. We hear, but we do not obey.

It's the taste thing.

Tofu may be fine -- more fine for some people than others -- and soybeans make a great beer chaser, but replace a robust spaghetti and meat sauce with a spaghetti and soy-replacement-sauce?

Yeah, right.

Here, Gina Carroll is something of a prophet. She's been experimenting with a particular soy-replacement product -- dehydrated whole soy flour that is made into a ground-beef-type mix and into strips that mimic chicken and beef.


Bullet Featuring: Cooking demonstrations and tastings of dishes made with meat substitutes
Bullet Time: 7:30 p.m. July 13
Bullet Place: McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Beach Park
Bullet Cost: $5
Bullet Call: 732-6075

Her repertoire includes an ambitious summer roll, chicken long rice, oyako donburi, tacos and stuffed mushrooms. She shares some of these dishes, alongside the creations of other experienced soy cooks, at a Best of Soy event next week.

Now for the disclaimer: The event is sponsored by Nutrition for Life International, which sells the soy product under the label Heartful Gourmets. Carroll and her husband, Roy, are among a network of distributors of the product on Oahu.

An announcement of the event speaks of "fabulous wholesale club membership and bonuses for sharing this information with your friends!"

This may set off warning bells, but forewarned is forearmed.

That said, what's interesting here is the quality of Carroll's recipes and the commendable job they do of approximating meat. What's also interesting -- and rings oh, so true -- is how she had to sneak it into her family's diet.

"Initially, when you tell people it's soy, they aren't too happy about it," Carroll says.

Husband Roy recalls being quite skeptical. "I thought it was a new brand of bird seed."

But in order to sell the product, Carroll wanted to know how to use it, and that meant practicing on Roy and their three sons. This required subterfuge. "I started sneaking it in and they couldn't tell the difference, until it came time to wash the dishes -- no grease."

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Stuffed tofu provides a double dose of soy.

It's been 18 months now. The Carrolls have not gone vegetarian, but they've cut way back on their meat consumption and Roy says he's lost 56 pounds.

The Vegetarian Society of Hawaii sampled dishes made with the product at a recent meeting, and member Karl Seff pronounced them "very tasty."

Of course, it's not like eating fresh fruits, vegetables and other whole foods, which the society primarily advocates. "But it's only a step away from ideal," Seff says.

The ideal would be to give up on the idea of meat altogether, fake meats included. But for those who can't, Carroll says, this product is a good bridge.

A little experimentation by a couple of newsroom cooks -- one of them a vegan -- showed the "Beef Style Ground Soy Protein" to be an improvement over the textured vegetable protein commonly available as a meat replacement. The taste and texture came much closer to beef. Children were fooled.

It resembles, well, a bag of dirt, comparing most closely to a product called Protean, available in health food stores. Protean, however, includes a number of flavorings and additives, while the Heartful Gourmets' product lists only soy flour and corn as ingredients. Protean also has 270 mg of sodium per 1/4 cup serving; Heartful Gourmets has just 5 mg.

A 1-pound bag sells for about $8.50 and is available via a direct call to the Carrolls, 732-6075 (they'll also provide recipes and cooking tips); at the Nutrition for Life store, 2810 Paa St., near the Ben Franklin Store in Mapunapuna; or the Web site, Private demonstrations may also be arranged.

The easiest way to use this product is to heat up a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce, then add a 1/2 cup of the soy product. Cook until the soy is soft. It will soak up a lot of sauce, so don't use too much at a time. For more ambitious cooks, here's something more ambitious (these are not vegetarian dishes):


3 ounces mung bean noodles (long rice)
3 carrots, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons sugar
1 avocado
1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
3/4 cup beef-style soy replacement
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
18 rice paper rounds
18 small pieces Manoa lettuce
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Bullet Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water

To make rolls: Soak noodles in warm water to soften; cut into 2-inch strips. Combine carrots and sugar; let sit 10 minutes. Cut avocado into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lime juice.

Reconstitute soy according to package directions. Mix additional lime juice, fish sauce, lime leaves and pepper flakes into "beef."

Soften rice paper by dipping briefly in warm water, shake off excess. Cover with a damp towel, using one at a time.

Onto each rice paper place 1 piece of lettuce, a tablespoon of the "beef" mixture, one avocado slice, some carrots, long rice strips, mint leaf and cilantro leaves. Fold in the ends and roll up the wrapper. Moisten to seal.

To make sauce: Combine all ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar. Makes 18 rolls and 1-3/4 cups sauce.


2 blocks firm tofu
1 cup turkey-style soy replacement reconstituted in 1 cup chicken or onion broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
10 shiitake mushrooms, softened in water and minced
12 shrimp, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup water chestnuts
1 egg
2 cans chicken broth

Cut each tofu block into 4 slices. Sprinkle salt and flour lightly on both sides. Fry until medium brown on both sides. Cut each slice into 2 triangles and slice each triangle partway through to form a pocket. Set aside

Combine reconstituted soy with remaining ingredients, except broth. Stuff into tofu triangles.

Place in baking pan with chicken broth. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 8.

Nutritional information unavailable.*

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