As a diver and an environmentalist, I try to cut down my meat intake, but I still have to find alternatives to get my dose of proteins. Unfortunately, most people, including myself, think that all plant-based proteins taste like tofu. I don’t have anything against tofu – just palate fatigue since most fake meats taste and smell like it. Mock meats also have a bad rep for tasting like jelly – the starchy sort – because they are usually replicated with flour.
When I heard that local cafe Arbite collaborated with Quorn, a range of meat-free protein products, to produce a special menu featuring meat-free dishes, I was lukewarm. But my interest peaked when I saw that they had a unique goal in mind – to prove that it is possible and easy to create delicious and filling dishes without the use of meat.
Arbite adds meat-free dishes to the menu
Arbite was opened with the intention of serving honest and sustainable food. Most of its ingredients are sourced locally to support local farms, as well as to reduce carbon footprint. Founder Marc Wee, one of six Quorn Change Makers, was more than happy to add some meat-free creations using Quorn products to his menu.
The main ingredient of Quorn products is mycoprotein, a fungi-based protein made through a fermentation process, which has a dense structure and meat-like texture. Studies have shown that mycoprotein can help to maintain blood cholesterol levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, and help to control blood glucose levels. They are high in protein and fibre, and help to make you feel full for a longer period of time.
Pop Quorn ($7)
This was the first dish of the day: Arbite’s take on popcorn chicken. I was surprised by its meat-like texture as I bit into the chunks, which were coated in a yummy Korean-inspired honey-butter-marmite sauce. It was addictively tangy and sweet with a lovely chew.
Marc’s tip on cooking with Quorn products was to use thicker and richer sauces to mask the barley malt extract taste if you are not used to it.
Quorn Burger ($14)
Paired with a side of onion rings and fries, the warm and crispy bun of the Quorn Burger complemented the juicy patty, along with the layers of cheese, mushrooms, and avocado. Another dish with a Korean influence, the flavourful “gochujang” sauce used in the burger was made in-house with hot pepper paste, rice vinegar, soya sauce and sesame oil.
Hainanese Fillet Rice Bowl ($12)
I was slightly apprehensive of this meat-free rendition of chicken rice, as the ‘chicken’ slices resembled mock meat that I was not a fan of – but I tried it anyway. Although the softer texture made it obvious that this wasn’t chicken, it was still a tasty alternative for those who crave this hawker favourite. Another highlight was the homemade chilli sauce. It was superb and went well with the rice, fillets, and achar. Do take note that the sides rotate based on availability.
Rendang Mac and Cheese ($14)
As Beef Rendang Mac & Cheese is a signature at Arbite, Marc wanted to cater to vegetarians with this meat-free version. While it seemed like an odd combination at first, I was nodding in approval as soon as I had my first taste. The cheese enhanced the rendang gravy, making it extra thick and smooth, while the saltiness from the cheese balanced well with the spicy rendang sauce to bring out all the right flavours. Super scrumptious!
I’m glad I gave these meat-free dishes a chance. It is proof that plant proteins don’t always taste like tofu, and it doesn’t hurt that they had a local twist for a familiar taste.
You can definitely meet all your nutrition goals even if you go meatless. It isn’t just good for your body, but for the environment too. Quorn mince uses less than one-eighth of the land and just 10 per cent of the water required to produce beef mince. Also, the carbon emissions from producing Quorn products are significantly lower as compared to animal farming processes.
And by having one meatless meal with a friend, you can save carbon emissions equivalent to boiling 776.8 kettles or 17.8 days worth of water for personal use.
You can also buy Quorn products in the supermarket
22 items in the Quorn range are available in Singapore, ranging from fillets and pieces to minces – vegan-friendly options included. Available in major supermarkets, as well as online at www.redmart.com and Amazon Prime Now.
In a bid to motivate customers to go meatless, Arbite is offering a one-for-one deal on its Quorn dishes during lunch and dinner on Mondays.
Arbite is located at 66A Serangoon Gardens Way. For more info, visit www.arbite.com.sg.
This story was originally published in Shape.