Originally started as “the brand with no name,” Mujirushi has ironically become one of the biggest lifestyle brands in Japan and around the world. Known affectionately as Muji, their products are known for their simple, functional household products made to both last long and look chic.
Main image: VTT Studio / Shutterstock.com
Part of their charm, though, isn’t just design-- they are known to think deeply about solving world problems, especially in food supply. With the human population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, meat consumption has come into question all over the globe. While Japan has been a bit slower to reach for meat alternatives compared to somewhere like the UK, many retailers have been angling to change that.
Soy is one of the most common meat substitutes, and for a good reason: It uses SIX times less water per gram of protein than beef(1), and actually produces oxygen instead of methane (not to mention the reduction in calories and increase in minerals). Japanese cooking, of course, uses soybeans as a base in many dishes, from shoyu to miso and tofu. It’s a natural step, then, to introduce to the Japanese public through soy meat -- but with a multi-step rehydration and draining process, it’s daunting even for home cooks hoping to make the switch.
Muji has sought to bridge that gap by creating a new soy meat product that requires no rehydration. Starting October 28, 2020, stores will carry four varieties of this soy meat option in Japan. It’s shelf-stable, perfect for stocking a lockdown pantry or simply not taking up precious mini-fridge space for the average single cook. With two pre-flavored options and two left plain for your enjoyment, there’s no end to what you can dream up!(2)
1. Soy Hamburger Steak - 290 yen each
This soy hamburger steak is spiced just right for even the pickiest little eater. This Japanese favorite comes ready to microwave (in a separate, safe container) and eat directly, or slathered in your favorite demi-glace or mushroom sauce for a soy meat twist on this beloved classic.
2. Soy Meatballs - 290 yen per serving (80g)
These come perfectly seasoned -- and while, like the hamburger, you can simply heat and eat in a microwave-safe container, these fare equally in both Western and Japanese preparations. Toss them in a pot with a jar of marinara for an earth-friendly Italian night, or mix them with vegetables and glossy ankake sauce.
3. Soy Mince - 290 yen per 80g
This is the most versatile of the meat substitutes-- use it easily wherever you use ground beef, pork, or chicken. I myself use a lot of minced soy protein as a way to reduce my meat consumption, especially in box sauce preparations like mapo tofu, nasu miso, and keema curry.
4. Thinly Sliced Soy - 290 yen per 80g
This is a little more unusual, but an excellent alternative for pork belly or thinly sliced chicken in stir-fries. Since this cut of meat is mostly used in Japanese cooking, this is where it shines -- soy meat shougayaki (ginger pork) or nikumaki (braised stuffed meat and rice roll) are no longer a thing of the future!
No matter how you cook it, you can sleep easy knowing you’re taking a step towards health and a more sustainable future with every bite!
(1) Per https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1_1.pdf
(2) These products may not be available in smaller pop-up stores.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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