I stumbled across this product via a friends Instagram feed, who seemed bowled over by the meat substitute. Over time the curly soy pieces kept popping up here and there in my periphery, the universe was trying to tell me something – so I duly obliged via an Amazon Prime order (affiliate link) and got to investigating.
First impressions aren’t eye popping – the packaging and product itself isn’t much to look at. Its a fairly utilitarian packet and the curls themselves are a rather bland and beige dehydrated tangle. But hey, judging books and their covers and what have you right.
Cooking the curls per the package instructions is simple. First you soak them in water, then you finish them in your dish of choice. That’s it. 10 minutes to soak and a few more minutes to flavor. The first thing to note is that the curls double or triple in size from soaking. If you do cook the whole package at once (as the package mentions) you’re going to have a LOT of curls. Half a packet will easily provide 3-4 servings.
I’m sure like me, you’ll be hard pressed not to try the curls after the soaking stage – exactly what are they like? Don’t let this deter you, because frankly, they have a very minimal flavor. What they do have is lots of meaty, textural chew. The trick to this product is how you finish it, what you do next. These products really do take on the characteristics of whatever you throw at them, their own flavor being an almost unnoticeable backseat one.
Update: check out our guide to What To Cook With Butler Soy Curls.
Butler Soy Curls
My first dish with the Butler Soy Curls was a Thai jungle curry. I figured if they have some weird after taste (as some meat subs tend to have) I wasn’t fond of, at least the riot of red curry paste and funky Thai fish sauce would mask all. I shouldn’t have worried, they worked great in this format.
For reference, after draining off the soaking liquid I quickly pan fried them in a little oil and soy, before adding them to a pan of jungle curry I had almost finished with: bamboo shoots, peas and zucchini. The curls soaked up every last bit the fragrant and spicy sauce. For a moment I forgot there was no chicken in this dish.
After this first attempt I was excited. I did a little more online reading to see what other home cooks had been creating with these soy curls. That in turn led me to discovering a few additional steps to cooking the curls. Many like to add flavoring to the soaking mixture, to lend a little more nuance to the curls. Moreover, rather than just draining the curls, some like to actively press out the excess liquid taken on during soaking.
Taking both of these additional steps I created the following faux pulled pork sandwich. I soaked the curls in water, a hefty splosh of tamari and finally a 1/2 tsp of Hickory Smoke Powder (see below) from Chicago’s Spice House. After the soaking I wrung out the water and then pan fried them in a little oil on high heat with 1 tbsp of BBQ sauce.
Wow! By removing a little more water, these fried up quite beautifully; notice the black charring on some of the pieces. Of course the additional tamari added umami and the smoke powder lent itself to a gentle sultry back note. BBQ sauce caramelizes nicely in the pan too, lending the curls even more flavor. Topped with some home made slaw I was in heaven. The fact this was my first go at from scratch vegan pulled pork, and it being a knock out of the park success – lets just say Im excited to cook more with Butler Soy Curls. I can imagine everything from kung pao to tikka masala flavorings.
Butler Soy Curls nutrition
There’s nothing here except whole bean soy. That means nutritionally they’re a fantastic addition to your pantry – unless of course soy is restricted in your diet. They have plenty of protein, lots of fiber and are relatively low in fat.
Butler Soy Curls cooking instructions
As mentioned above, soak and then add to your dish of choice. I’d recommend trying that first to understand the product and how it cooks – and then go on to experiment a little more. I think you’ll have a lot of fun in doing so.
Butler Soy Curls – what’s a fair price?
I became immediately obsessed with this product. You can buy Butler Soy Curls on Amazon for around $8 (affiliate link). I picked mine up for $7.99 which by my estimation is about $1-$1.50 per serving portion which is a great price. These make our Smart Buy list for their flexibility, affordability and health.