Textured vegetable protein, also known as textured soy protein and commonly abbreviated TVP or TSP, doesn’t sound, look, or taste very appealing. But, like most carbon-based items, it has its uses in the kitchen. As the name hints, TVP can add texture to a vegetarian dish where you’d normally supply meat. It tastes like nothing, says FlavoursGal–it just sits inoffensively and soaks up the flavors of whatever you cook it in.

To use TVP, rehydrate it according to package directions, or add it directly to a sauce you’re making. If you’re rehydrating, add TVP during the last 10 minutes of cooking. If you’re using it straight out of the package, just cook it just until it reaches the texture you’re after. Be sure to add more liquid to the sauce than usual to make up for what the TVP will absorb.

TVP finds more detractors than most processed food products–hounds loathe it for aesthetic, political, environmental, and health reasons. “It’s the only food (thought calling it food is a stretch) that I will never eat under any circumstances,” says Morton the Mousse.

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TVP / TSP–tasty?

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