Quorn: falling away from me

At a friend’s suggestion, I tried Quorn yesterday. For the uninitiated, Quorn is a meat substitute produced by means of a process that would impress 1950s science fiction authors. You grow masses of the filamentous fungus Fusarium venenatum in underground vats, then process it with egg and seasonings to get something that tastes and feels like meat.

I tried the kind that is meant to simulate pieces of chicken breast, in a stir-fry. In terms of cooking, the similarity to meeat was considerable, though the pieces are quite a bit firmer than uncooked chicken generally is. The smell was enough to make me feel like I was breaching my vegetarianism, which was a surprisingly off-putting characteristic.

In the end, the Quorn tasted reasonably meat-like and I think it’s for that precise reason that I disliked it. After about a year of vegetarianism, the only meat I really miss is sushi and sashimi – which can’t be had for reasonable prices here anyhow – and very rarely sukiyaki beef or a Nick Ellan-style steak. Regardless of such occasional longings, I can happily live Quornless.

Unrelated aside: The pint glass that I have been using for tea was made of safety glass, the kind meant to break into little cubes instead of deadly shards. I discovered this by accident last night, after the fuse for all of our lights blew and I realized it’s in a box behind several layers of locks to which I do not have the keys. In darkness, I endure.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

10 thoughts on “Quorn: falling away from me”

  1. Aargh. Good to find out it was safety glass rather than discovering it wasn’t . hope your fuses are sorted.

    The Quorn people used to consult my dad in the early days. It used to be flavourless but have a texture somewhere between tofu and chicken and a tendency to dry out very easily. I found it worked best marinaded as that way it tasted of whatever (usually soy or lemon) I had infused it with rather than faint chicken echoes.
    Vegetables tend to absorb marinades poorly and I liked having that kind of texture as an option for the sake of variety as well.
    Haven’t tried it in years, so they may have beefed up the meat flavour. (Aargh.)

  2. Antonia,

    I still don’t have the keys to the room where the fuses are, nor the box that the fuses are in. I predict another night illuminated by my headlamp (best $20 and 30g combination I own).

    Regarding Quorn, the creepiest thing was probably how it never changed colour enough. When one is used to cooking meat – more so, at least, than odd fungus derivatives – a lack of colour change indicates the real danger of some horrible biological consequence.

    I still have about 150g of Quorn, so at least one more attempt seems in the cards. At 3GBP for 300g, I am not going to toss it just because I didn’t enjoy the first try very much.

  3. Can chicken-style Quorn be made into butter chicken curry? If so, you should do that.

  4. Quite right.

    1. Isn’t it odd that people choose to name things based on modified versions of the word ‘corn?’ Things like imitation meat and bands that appeal to high school students.
    2. Isn’t it odd to claim credit anonymously?
  5. I discovered an enormously better way to prepare Quorn. Fry it, then add a pouch of Sainsbury’s Thai Red Curry sauce. (I also added a hot chili pepper) The sauce itself is really tasty – sweet and spicy in a distinctly Thai way, which reminds of of Tropika, one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver. It may even be worth buying more Quorn to make this again.

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