When you consider what it takes to transform soybeans into a meat analogue -- protein isolation, fiber removal and curd formation -- you can appreciate the versatility and convenience it offers. You have to treat soya meat like a starch when you cook it. As with starches, too much liquid absorption causes soy protein's cells to collapse. Prolonged contact with heat weakens cell structure, also resulting in collapse, or "turning mushy." Using boiling liquid, timing the hydration period and adding a binder when needed helps make soya meat a suitable stand-in for animal products.
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Granules and Flakes
Bring water or vegetable stock to a boil in a saucepan on the stove. Use an amount of water or stock equal to the amount of soya meat you're cooking. One pound of dry soy granules equals 3 pounds of ground beef after cooking.
Pour the soya meat in bowl or food container. Pour the boiling stock or water over the soya.
Take the saucepan from the stove and set it aside. Stir the soya and let it rehydrate for 10 minutes.
Let the soya cool to room temperature if you're not serving it immediately. Transfer the soya to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Sliced Soy and Chunk Soy
Add 1 part sliced or chunk soya to a saucepan, followed by 2 parts cold water or vegetable stock. Season the stock or water with salt to taste, if desired.
Set the soy on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the soy until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Drain any excess liquid and lay the soy in an even layer on a plate or dish to cool if you're not serving it immediately. Store cooked soy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
You can also cook soya flakes and granules in the microwave. Pour the granules and an equal amount of water or stock in a microwave-safe container and cover tightly with microwave-safe plastic film. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Incorporate soya in a dish by adding it in the last 15 minutes of cooking to heat it through; prolonged heating after cooking causes soya to lose its structure and it collapses to mush.
If you want to make soya burgers, cook granules as usual in hot water or stock, and let them cool to room temperature. Mix the granules with enough beaten eggs and flour to bind -- about 1 egg and 1 cup flour per cup of soya -- along with any spices. Mix until sticky and combined, adding water as needed, and cook until browned in a saute pan or grill.