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Trying to recreate vegetarian "chicken" nuggets


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Hey all,

there is a place in Melbourne (Australia) that serves some delicious mock chicken nuggets. Yeah i know many people don't like the mock-meat concept, but I do, and I would like to try recreating these at home.

Here is a picture of them :


I already have a few ideas of what to do in terms of creating the actual nugget (though suggestions are still welcome - they are gluten free which is interesting since a lot of mock meats use gluten-flour).

The main thing I'm wondering is if anyone might have ideas of how to flavour them like meat. I paid particular attention last time I ate them (and saved one to eat cold for analysis) and noted that apart from salt (!) there were some other flavours in the "flesh", but it was hard to perceive what. They were subtle, it wasn't like a flavoured nugget, but something was there to make it not bland. I am thinking some kind of 'earthy' spices, maybe coriander and cumin, and for some reason i almost get ideas of a little star-anise...

Any thoughts? I know it's hard without having actually eaten them!

- Stu

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I'm not sure about specific seasonings, but the easiest way to introduce a meaty flavor is to add glutamate. the chemical associated with umami. Lots of things are glutamate-heavy: tomatoes, aged cheeses (especially Parmagiano-Reggiano), mushrooms. Any of those are likely to throw off the flavors of what you're trying to do, but glutamate is available almost unadulterated in the form of Ac'cent seasoning. I don't know if it's distributed in Australia.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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What exactly are you going to flavour like meat? I know you said you have a few ideas -- what are they? Tofu?

Could it be that they just use some of the mock-chicken as the . . .mock-chicken? Bread it and fry?

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MGLloyd, thanks for the suggestion but I don't think that's it... I have never heard of Quorn so i googled it... it's pretty interesting! But these nuggets are vegan and apparently Quorn uses eggwhite.

Pam, I'm going to make my mock-meat with the flavouring in it... so i'm trying to work out what those flavours are. I know that they are using some kind of Textured Vegetable Protein as the meat, and TVP is made from soy. I'm going to try 2 methods, one of which is using TVP flakes which I will reconstitute and then partially blend to get a mushy yet slightly stringy texture. I'm also going to try soy flour and chickpeas to create my own TVP, so to speak.

And you're right, after I have that, I will just coat and fry it. So the spices and flavours will be IN the mock meat.

Dave, I feel a bit silly to not have even thought of MSG... i have checked the vague product listing for the nuggets and they DON'T specify that no MSG is used, so i'm thinking it may well be in there. I have some MSG at home, so i will try it. In the past I have noticed the taste unpleasantly when I use it, so hopefully i don't get that this time... i don't notice it when i consume MSG in convenience foods or eating out usually.

How much might you suggest adding to, say, 500g of my mixture? (i know it's hard to really specify).

Thanks for all the suggestions so far :)

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Best of luck with your efforts....the picture looks amazing! I hope you will post the results with instructions when you are successful. I have been struggling to recreate a version of these: http://www.delightsoy.com/ Which are a fairly new product in the U.S. with limited distribution and a somewhat prohibitive price tag, but which I adore for faux chicken nuggets.

So far I have tried using fake powdered chicken bullion for flavoring and tried adding pureed mushrooms for taste and texture but have not managed to come up with something at all like what I am aiming for.


Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew. ~Guillaume Apollinaire

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The items in the photo look like pakora to me; the coating in particular looks like it's from chickpea batter.

I often find that celery seed is an ingredient that often lurks in the background of industrial fried chicken. If I add it at home, I get oohs and ahhs from the younger set in particular.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Doodad, good idea... I don't use sage much so probably wouldn't have thought about that, thanks for the idea :)

Chris, thanks for the celery seed suggestion! I haven't ever used or really even heard of these, so i'll have to keep an eye out, sounds like a good thing to play with. I'm not sure if these nuggets actually have a batter, I suspect the outsides are just crispier because of the contact with oil, but again, i will keep the chickpea batter as an idea to try.

Fantasmagoria, I will definitely report back here with what I find. Don't get your hopes up too much, I'm not an expert in reverse-engineering dishes, and these are the kind of thing that I reckon might require specialty equipment or technique to get just right! But who knows...!

Now I just need to find a good time to actually make them.

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Have you tried the sanitarium vegitarian chicken nugget mix? when i was vego I tried it and was creeped out by how close they got the texture and taste. Their sausage roll mix is similar too. You should be able to get these from any safeway, er woolworths. It might be worth a look, even just to see what ingredients they are using then copy them.

I might swing past lord of the fries and try these nuggets at some point, you've got me curious.

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