how to make vegetarian meat

vegetarian meat

Some recipe or another tends to pop up during my conversations with my mother. Today it is vegetarian ‘meat’ made simply with flour and water. It is a recipe my mother learnt from her sister who was taught by the nuns at the Chinese temple in Rangoon. They used various spices to flavour it so that it tasted like real pork or roast duck.

I like the idea of making my own vegetarian meat as I have never been fond of using Quorn. There is little work except to mix the flour and water into a dough and leave to rest.

I am pleasantly surprised while washing the dough, as my mother had described, a springy yet firm clump of gluten is left in my hands. Once boiled and fried it tastes rather like fried tofu. The test is a success though there is only enough ‘meat’ for a small dish.


200g plain flour
pinch of salt
175 ml water

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and mix in salt. Make a well in the middle, stir in the water gradually until it comes together into a soft sticky dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 2 hours.

Remove cloth, take a handful of dough and rinse under running water. Rub and massage in the palms of your hands. The water will wash away most of the dough until there is a string textured dough that clumps together. You will notice the change in colour too. Continue to ‘wash’ the remaining dough until you have the stringy textured dough.
vegetarian meat dough

Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil. Pinch small knob of the stringy dough and pop into the pan. Remove with a slotted spoon once it has floated to the top and looks like a spongy blob. Drain on kitchen towel.
vegetarian meat boiled
Heat a generous amount of oil in a saucepan. Deep fry the cooked dough balls until lightly golden.

Makes: enough for a small dish
Cooking time: 5 mins

Creative Commons License

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.


  1. Casey on April 29, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Can this be made with wheat flour? At least then it would have nutritional value. I know meat is all kinds of bad for you, but at least it has protein and nutrients. Flour and water and oil is kind of weak, nutritionally speaking.

    • Cho on April 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Casey
      You’re right about the nutritional value. I guess you can certainly use wheat flour but for strict veggies I imagine you would still need to eat a wide variety of plant foods to get all the essential amino acids found in meat and dairy.
      – Cho

  2. Joelle on May 4, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    This “vegetarian meat” made with either white or whole wheat flour, is called “Seitan” by the Japanese or Chinese. The calories are almost all from protein–very little starch as it is all washed out. The broth in which it is cooked can be flavored various ways: with garlic, celery leaves, onions etc., including soy sauce and other seasonings. It is very bland in taste, but can take on the tastes of whatever you add. I have a friend in Hawaii who makes wonderful skewered teriyaki out of home-made gluten or seitan. You can also make this from the “bread additive” do-pep, or otherwise called Vital gluten flour–Arrowhead mills and other sources stock it. When I use this, I add dry seasonings and sometimes chopped carrots, onions, to the “flour” and then add the liquid all at once and mix. From there you can fry it a little to “set” the patties, and then simmer in a casserole with seasoned broth. The possibilities are endless! Happy cooking!

    • Cho on May 5, 2009 at 12:44 am

      Hi Joelle
      Thanks for sharing. I’ll see if I can find the gluten flour you mentioned. Wow, the teriyaki sounds great!

      – Cho

  3. Yadana on May 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm


  4. nyunt on May 12, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    hi, cho
    I know gluten flour is available at health food shop, but do-it-yourself is the fun part of cooking.
    Many thanks for the recipe

  5. christine on April 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I think you used a wheat flour on this recipe. At least it has a nutritional value. But anyway thanks for sharing this stuff with us. Nice one! Great job=).

  6. sherry on May 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Who are interested in making vegetarian meat, i have a substitution for wheat flour. I normally use shiitake mushroom stems to make it. You can use the dried stem or the raw stem.
    If you use the dried stem, soak it into water, soften it then dry it by pressing the water out of the stem by using your hand. Then, use the mortar to smash the stem until it became paste alike.
    Add in some salt, five spice powder and flour. make it into bite size and fried it. You can even use it to make burger meat!! its very tasty!!