Hieronymus Bosch and TVP Chunks

While I was talking to my brother on the phone the other day, we were sharing our recent Netflix viewings and he mentioned he’d been watching a very good show called Bosch.

“You mean, as in Hieronymus Bosch?” I asked (with great excitement since, as a teenager, I’d been rather obsessed with the painter).

“Yes–that’s right! Hieronymus Bosch!” he said. As he continued to praise the show’s merits, I looked the show up online.

“It’s about a detective named Harry Bosch!” I said.

“Yeah–it’s short for ‘Hieronymus’,” he said.

“I ASSUMED it was about the painter!” I said.

“Oh jeez….of COURSE you did,” he said with disgust.

Anyway, we’ll get back to Bosch in a moment, but last week we stumbled across this product in Superstore, and James was intrigued enough to buy a couple of boxes:

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It’s basically TVP (or Textured Vegetable Protein), which I’d tried a few decades ago…with little success. However, James thought it might be worth a try, so I consulted a gazillion recipes online and came up with one that I thought might work. I also read about a few failures and watched a few videos and eventually came across this rather simple recipe that turned out very well indeed. It’s from  The TVP Cookbook.

Chinese BBQ TVP Balls

Combine in a two-quart saucepan:

  • 2 cups TVP chunks
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 TBS. ketchup

Simmer for twenty minutes.

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Whisk together in a small saucepan:

  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBS sesame oil
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Five-Spice Powder

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Bring to a boil, mix in the TVP chunks (and ketchup-water mixture), and remove from heat.

This next step is very important: systematically squish down the balls with a potato masher (this is to ensure that the mixture displaces the water in the TVP chunks). I added this step because of various information I’d read online.

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Let sit for thirty minutes and then bake at 350 for thirty minutes.

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I’ll admit that my hopes were VERY low for these, but they were surprisingly good! The chunks are very chewy and the sauce is super tasty. They would be delicious in a stir fry!

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And now back to Hieronymus Bosch–the 15th-century painter, not the 21st-century police detective.

As I was trying to figure out what to do with the TVP, I suggested to James that the TVP box looked like a Bosch painting–like one of his paintings with a bunch of odd, misshapen faces all smushed together.

James gave me that special quizzical look until I showed him the box and pointed to what looked like a man’s face poking above the label.

He raised an eyebrow, heaved a sigh, and (deciding to humour me) took the box to look more closely.

“Oh, yeah, I see,” he said, “and there’s a singing pig off to the left.”

I love that man.

I’ve inked in a few (including the singing pig) for your reference!

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