10 Of The Weirdest Vegan Foods (and How To Use Them)

Before starting my experiment, I thought the weirdest food I would have to eat would be tofu. It turns out that from a mixture of exotic foods, foreign traditions, and human ingenuity, there is a whole slew of strange foods that you run across. Some of them sound incising and exotic, while others I’ll leave to the adrenaline junkies.

Tempeh
Tempeh really does look inedible. It’s bumpy and also has spots of what appears to be mold. That’s because fungus spores from Rhizopus oligosporus are added and cover it with their mycelium, leaving behind a fermented soy cake.

Actually, it’s pretty tasty and perfectly safe to eat, although it takes some people a while to develop a taste for it. Look for it in the refrigerated tofu section usually in the produce aisle.

chicken-style seitanSeitan
Seitan (pronounced SAY-tan) is made from wheat gluten. Basically, the starch in flour is rinsed away, leaving behind the gluten. When cooked correctly and seasoned, it becomes a nice stand-in for meat that packs a whopping 60 grams of protein per serving. You can find it packaged at natural food stores or learn how to make seitan by yourself.

nutritional yeast flakesNutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” is quite popular in vegan cooking. It brings a savory, cheesy taste to food, so it’s often used to make vegan cheeses. It’s a good source of vitamin B12, which is a concern for vegans. Here are 20 ways to use nutritional yeast.

misoMiso
Miso is a fermented soybean paste. It’s also made from rice, barley, or other grains. It’s a strange ingredient, but a healthy one. It’s important not to boil it or you will kill the beneficial microorganisms.

It’s great for when you’re feeling a bit under the weather or you’ve indulged a little too much the night before, Lemongrass-Ginger Miso Soup is a great restorative tonic.

Miso soup is well-known, but you can add miso in many other recipes. It’s common in salad dressings and sauces, but can also find it used in foods like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

Kimchi
kimchiKimchi is a very popular Korean spicy dish made from fermented cabbage along with other ingredients. It isn’t always vegan, though. There are many different ways to make it, so it’s a good idea to read the label. Or you could get adventurous and make your own kimchi.

It’s considered one of the world’s healthiest foods and is quite well-known for its pungency.

mochi dessertsMochi
I have an unhealthy obsession with these spongy delicacies. Mochi comes from Japan. It’s made from glutinous rice, which is pounded into a paste and then shaped.It’s commonly made into sweets, either confections or ice cream. But it can also be found in soup. Look for it refrigerated at natural food stores.

tofu and vegetable aspicAgar Agar
Agar is created from red algae, but it doesn’t taste fishy. It’s a suitable replacement for gelatin, which is definitely not vegan. You can use agar agar all the same ways.

It comes in flakes or powder form and is found in the Asian food section (where it’s called kanten) or even with the nutritional supplements. You’ll want to take care that you’re using what the recipe calls for. You can’t substitute flakes for an equal amount of powder.

vegetarian haggisVegetarian Haggis

Haggis is a Scottish delicacy made by cooking sheep’s organs, more specifically, the heart, liver, and lungs,  with oatmeal, fat, and spices and then stuffing the concoction into sausage casings. Traditionally, it’s actually stuffed in the animal’s stomach.

You can make it vegan by substituting veggies, nuts, and lentils for the meat.

Durian
durian fruitDurian is a fruit that’s so stinky when it’s ripe that in Singapore you can’t bring it into hotel lobbies or carry it on the subway. The smell has been compared to rotten onions, vomit, raw sewage, and sweaty gym socks. All together in one neat package. It’s a delicacy that requires a certain level of sophistication to appreciate fully, of course.

Apparently, if you can get past the odor the taste is quite good. Some experts even say to hold your nose the first time you eat it.

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