Beyond Meat Unveils Plant-Based Minced Pork in China

Sally Ho wrote . . . . . . . . .

Beyond Meat has just unveiled its newest product for the Chinese market, a plant-based minced pork. Dubbed Beyond Pork, the vegan version of the country’s favourite meat will be available in Shanghai at partnering restaurants for a limited-time trial, as the Californian food tech continues to ramp up its presence in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Announcing the news on Wednesday (November 19), Beyond Meat’s general manager for China Candy Chan said: “We’re excited to launch Beyond Pork in China, marking a milestone for Beyond Meat. We are not only launching an entirely new product innovation, but our first plant-based meat product created specifically for the Chinese market.”

It comes just two days after the company announced two new Beyond Burger products with an “even better nutritional profile”, slated to launch nationwide in the U.S. beginning early 2021, and a week after its large-scale partnership with Pizza Hut and the big reveal that it co-developed McDonald’s new McPlant line.

The new plant-based minced pork product will be available via foodservice at partnering local restaurants in Shanghai, which includes Egg, Moménti, RAC, Solo X and Tun Wang – representing some of the most up-and-coming spots in the city’s modern food scene. It will be on menus for a limited-time between November 18-24, with no details on when the product will be released through consumer channels or retail.

Beyond Pork, made from soybeans, rice and boasting 18.5 grams of protein per serving while slashing the saturated fat content by 50% compared to its animal counterpart, the product is aimed squarely at China’s rising group of food safety and health-conscious consumers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s African swine fever outbreak.

Unlike its previous pork substitute that came in a sausage-link form, the food tech says that its new pork mince analogue is particularly suited for a range of Asian dishes, from dumplings and spring rolls to topping ramen noodles and wonton, much like OmniPork, the vegan minced pork developed by Hong Kong-based Green Monday’s OmniFoods.

Among the first to try Beyond Meat’s latest product on Wednesday’s VIP launch in Shanghai was Simon Briens, co-founder of restaurant partner RAC, who commented: “I thought the chef must have actually used traditional animal pork mince by mistake. I think our fans are going to be very impressed when they try it – I bet they won’t even be able to tell the difference either.”

It marks the latest move in the plant-based meat giant’s plan to double down its presence in mainland China, a major market where brands are keen to tap into with bullish predictions of the plant-based industry’s growth in the coming years.

Beyond Meat recently set up a new manufacturing facility in mainland China with ready access to Shanghai, which will open doors next year, soon after founder and CEO Ethan Brown pledged to establish a production footprint to aggressively expand into the region. The partnership was signed by Beyond Meat (Jiaxing) Food Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beyond Meat, and the facility will produce the brand’s plant-based beef, pork and chicken.

It already boasts a presence across all 3,300 Starbucks locations in China on the coffee giant’s vegetarian menu that also features Oatly and OmniPork, and has previously been piloted at Yum China-operated fast food chains including KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. On the retail side, Beyond Meat is available on Alibaba’s Freshippo online app, as well as in Metro supermarket locations in Shanghai.

Beyond Meat’s main rival Impossible Foods, famous for its “bleeding” heme-filled vegan patties, has too been keen to capitalise on the Asian plant-based market, particularly in China, and has launched two new vegan pork products as a part of its plan of action.

Source: Green Queen

New Healthy Vegan Mooncakes in China

Elaine Yau wrote . . . . . . . . .

As the October 1 Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, shoppers are seeking must-have mooncakes to round out the celebration. As dietitians sound their annual warning not to overindulge in these iconic treats, given many versions contain high levels of sugar and cholesterol, savvy suppliers have developed more healthy offerings.

Based in Guangzhou, in mainland China’s southern Guangdong province, Pure Vegan recently launched a new line of vegan mooncakes – free of butter, milk and eggs – for those who love the festive delicacy but are also health conscious, company co-founder Ran Lau says.

The gluten-free mooncakes come in four flavours: black truffle with lotus seed paste; orange peel with red bean paste; coffee with chocolate and cashews; and Yunnan roses with black berries.

The pastry shell, or “skin”, is made of green beans and white kidney beans without any flour, Lau says.

“The skin has the texture and flavour of traditional Guangdong-styled mooncakes, but without their oil and high sugar content. It is first frozen, then roasted at low temperature. The white-sugar substitute maltitol has a gelling function which stops the mooncakes from collapsing. Unlike snowy mooncakes [which need to be refrigerated], which are not easily transported, ours can be kept at room temperature.”

The company’s employees all come from Guangdong and are familiar with southern Chinese people’s preferences, Lau says.

“The mooncakes are made in the kitchen of a five-star hotel in Guangzhou. The flavour of orange peel with red bean paste is to cater to the taste buds of Cantonese people who love the dessert of orange peel red bean soup. The skin of the orange peel mooncake is pink, which comes from beetroot juice.”

Hong Kong-based Green Common, a retail grocery chain which promotes plant-based eating, has launched two new vegan mooncake flavours for this year: figs with pistachio and oats, and mixed nuts with blueberry and purple sweet potato. Both were chosen for their high nutritional value, says David Yeung, the chain’s founder.

“[For the first mooncake], dried figs are one of the top dried fruits, known for their high calcium content. Oats contain a high amount of fibre. Pistachios provide high-quality proteins and polyunsaturated fats. Such a combination of ingredients creates a soft, yet crunchy, texture.”

The pastry for the second low-sugar mooncake is made from sweet potatoes.

“Purple sweet potato has a rich content of super antioxidants … For this mooncake, six kinds of nuts and seeds are mixed with blueberries in the stuffing.”

Over at The Cakery, a bakery with four outlets in Hong Kong, its new collection of vegan mooncakes are packed with “superfood” ingredients, says owner Shirley Kwok.

There are four new flavours: black sesame and sweet raisins, which comes with superfood pumpkin seeds; red date and mixed nuts with dried apricots, which contains pink pitaya powder, made from a freeze-dried superfruit grown in tropical regions of South America and Southeast Asia; oolong and dried peach, with added white bean paste and coconut oil; and lemon and yuzu, which contains turmeric powder, prized for its anti-inflammatory benefits.

The mooncakes’ skin, which is mostly made from almond flour, contains superfoods including pink pitaya, matcha and pumpkin powder, says Kwok, who gave up her high-flying finance job to open the bakery chain so her two daughters could enjoy healthy pastries.

“We have offered [vegan] mooncakes since the Cakery was launched [in 2016]. I hope people can enjoy the tradition but in a guilt-free way. I added the four new flavours [this year] so people have more varieties. We are definitely seeing an increase in popularity in vegan desserts.”

Foodcraft, an online organic food store with a factory in Hong Kong’s Kennedy Town neighbourhood, is offering vegan mooncakes in two flavours: matcha and chocolate. Soy milk, coconut oil and cocoa butter are used in place of eggs, milk and oil, says Foodcraft chef Shima Shimizu.

“The mooncakes have zero cholesterol. They have a cookie base with a chocolate or matcha exterior. The gluten-free cookie base is made of a mix of rice, tapioca, potato, maize and buckwheat flour. Only coconut sugar or raw cane sugar is used.”

Pure Vegan’s Lau says people are more conscious about their health in the midst of the pandemic.

“Our customers include listed companies on the mainland. The concept of healthy mooncakes is taking off in China as people are fed up with the traditional mooncakes like lotus paste ones with double egg yolks. Just eating one can make you feel very full.

“People are looking for creative food inventions. As mainlanders are willing to pay more for quality food, vegan mooncakes will surely grow more popular.”

Source: SCMP

The Special Gold Thread Chinese Noodle that’s Thin as a Thread

In China, there is a type of noodle so thin that it can pierce the eye of a needle.

They’re called gold thread noodles, or jinsimian, and they’re a speciality of Sichuan province in southwestern China, where the dish is reserved for special occasions.

Why are they called gold thread noodles? “Because after kneading the dough, the colour is gold and when you roll it out, it looks like gold foil,” explains Yang Yongfu, who has been making the noodles for over 24 years.

Only a handful of chefs have mastered the art of making gold thread noodles. The challenge is cutting the dough into fine, delicate strands, a process that is extremely time-consuming and can take up to two hours for a batch.

“The noodles should be thin as paper, delicate, and fine as hair,” Yang says.

To achieve that effect, chefs carefully run a heavy knife back and forth across the dough, cutting thin strands along the way. The best chefs spend their entire careers perfecting this technique.

“You have to be really accurate to get the results you want,” Yang says.

That’s easier said than done. The “very heavy” knife starts to really strain the wrist after three to five minutes, Yang says. “You need wrist strength.”

He estimates he can cut 9,000 to 12,000 noodle strands from one 400-gram piece of dough.

The dough’s golden colour comes from a combination of egg yolk and flour. In Sichuan, duck eggs are preferred because they impart a brighter hue.

Unlike most Sichuan noodle dishes, which pack a lot of spice, gold thread noodles are served in a broth made from capons, or castrated chickens.

Also practised in Spain and France, chicken castration involves removing the testes of a rooster at a young age. The idea is that the lack of sex hormones makes the poultry more tender and juicy.

“The soup made from it is much more concentrated,” Yang says.

The broth is clear to bring out the colour of the noodles. The result is a simple dish, refined by the skill and technique that goes into making delicately thin, chewy noodles.

“These gold thread noodles are such an important part of Chinese and Sichuanese culture,” Yang says. “They’re a cultural relic.”

Source: SCMP

Watch video at You Tube (5:57 minutes) . . . . .

In Pictures: Food of Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant (屋里厢) in Beijing, China

Fine Dining Classical and Contemporary Shanghai Cuisine

The 2020 Michelin 2-star Restaurant

China’s Tradition of Hospitality May Need Reshaping If Food Waste is to End

mandy Zuo wrote . . . . . . . . .

“He heaves his hoe in the rice field, under the noonday sun; on to the soil of the rice field his streaming sweat beads run”

This classical Chinese poem reminding people to treasure food has been one of the first things taught to schoolchildren in China for decades. But wasted food in the world’s most populous country has become so prevalent its leader has called for national action.

President Xi Jinping wants China to treat its “shocking and distressing” amount of food waste with a sense of crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, requiring a cultural shift in a population which has traditionally measured hospitality in leftovers.

Patrons of the country’s catering industry each wasted an average 11.7 per cent of their meal, according to a report co-authored by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2018.

In large gatherings, the rate rose to 38 per cent, while students threw away a third of the contents in their school lunchboxes, it said.

Preparing or ordering more food than necessary has long been regarded as a symbol of hospitality and social standing in China, where it is common for all dishes to be shared by the table. But the prosperity of recent decades has also partly contributed to the habit of squandering, according to experts.

Zhu Qizhen, a professor at China Agricultural University, said the Chinese people traditionally valued frugality, a consequence of a long history of famine and shortages. But another deeply rooted value – of expressing hospitality by treating guests to sumptuous feasts – was behind the squandering of food.

“What is a sumptuous feast then? One important standard is the amount of leftovers,” he said.

Shanghai man Ma Linhui, 70, said he shared his father’s attitude that treating guests well was a matter of “face”, the Chinese concept of respect and honour. “We didn’t have much to eat when I was young. But we would put all the food we had saved for months on the table when a guest visited, otherwise we would lose face,” he said.

“Even today, when I cook for my daughter and grandchildren, I can’t help but feel awkward if they eat up all the food. It makes me feel I haven’t prepared enough for them.”

China’s phenomenal economic growth and the bumper harvests of recent decades have taken Chinese society from food shortages to surpluses and it is against this backdrop that frugality is today often equated with stinginess, according to Zhu.

“Just see how farmers have been struggling to sell their produce. On the other side, we’ve been encouraging consumption to stimulate the economy. This, to some extent, is also encouraging waste,” he added.

Jing Linbo, deputy chairman of the China Cuisine Association, said a survey by his organisation had found business functions and banquets held by government officials using public funds were responsible for 80 per cent of wasted food in restaurants. “People are especially generous when spending public money,” he said.

A crackdown on the squandering of public funds was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption drive which began in late 2012 with the introduction of eight disciplinary rules for all its members.

That was followed in early 2013 with a nationwide campaign called “empty plate” which aimed to eliminate food waste. Since then, consumption at the public’s expense has dropped, but the wastage has not improved much, according to Jing.

Restaurants were failing in their responsibilities to remind diners to save food, he said, while some were encouraging bigger orders, leading to more waste. “It is definitely not an issue to be rectified in a short period. Cultivating a good consumption culture needs a long-term effort.”

The effort sparked by Xi’s call for a national belt-tightening has begun, with local governments issuing a range of detailed measures to curb food consumption. Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus emerged last year, was among the first to roll out a new ordering mode for its restaurants.

Groups of 10 diners are now expected to order for nine – only adding more food to the table later, if it is actually required. Groups of two or three are to be offered half portions or smaller shares and all restaurants should provide takeaway boxes for leftovers, according to a notice from the Wuhan Catering Association on Tuesday.

Source: SCMP