Beef jerky was not one of those foods that was hard to give up when I went vegan. Sure, I enjoyed the occasional endless chewing sensation of some teriyaki flavored gas station jerky, but whenever I contemplated giving up animal products, I didn’t hesitate because of the inevitable jerky deficit in my life. And when I saw vegan jerky in stores, or online, I was never really tempted to buy it. How could they possibly reproduce the dry rubbery texture of dehydrated animal flesh? How could something plant-derived possibly give me that jaw-popping, tooth grinding sensation?
I broke down one day while trying to get my Thrive Market order above 50 bucks so I could secure the free shipping, and purchased a couple of pouches of Louisville Vegan Jerky. When they arrived, I peeled open one of the packs, chomped down, and chewed away. I was instantly transformed into a vegan jerky lover. The flavor was strong. The protein was just rubbery enough. And the ingredients all seemed fairly normal.
As with most delicious packaged vegan foods, there was a premium. It’s not that it wasn’t worth the $7 price tag, but I knew when I first opened the package that Louisville was just using Butler’s Soy Curls as their base. The story on the package also talked to the simplicity of the cooking process, and the ingredients.
So, as with anything that I love, but I don’t want to pay top dollar for, I set out to make it on my own. I found a few recipes online and got an idea of basic liquid rations. I played around with some ingredients and Asian inspired flavors. My favorite jerky had always been teriyaki, so I wanted to make something that had a similar sweet-salty taste, but I also wanted to add a bit of heat. I also wanted to try to cut down on the cook time and the process, so I practiced making my jerky in the air fryer.
After a few tasty practices, I’m pretty sure I have the texture down. This recipe below is the current iteration. The flavor combinations seem endless so long as the liquid to Soy Curl ratio stays about the same, and so long as the treatment of the Curls when cooking and cooling stays the same.
Take my base and experiment away.
This recipe is a work in progress. I wanted to see if I could make vegan jerky using Soy Curls in an air fryer. Turns out, I can.
- 1 cup Soy Curls
- ¼ cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sambal olec
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon gochujang
- ground cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
Place the soy curls in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to a microwave safe dish or measuring cup, stir to combine, and then microwave just until the mixture begins to simmer. Pour the liquid over the soy curls, and toss with a fork to coat. Allow the Soy Curls to soften and absorb all of the liquid, for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Add your softened soy curls to an air fryer in a single layer. Set your air fryer to cook at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Toss your curls every 5 minutes. Begin testing your jerky at the 15 minute mark for texture. When they are chewy, they are done. I personally have found 18 minutes to be the perfect time.
Immediately place your jerky in a bowl with a lid, and let cool to room temp. Devour immediately, or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
For every cup of dry Soy Curls, you want about a quarter cup of water or broth, a tablespoon of oil (optional but it does help with the texture) and another quarter cup combined of liquid flavoring such as soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, hoisin sauce, BBQ sauce... You basically want a half cup of liquid for every cup of Soy Curls.