Last year Impossible Burger 2.0 was the talk of CES. Everyone was clamouring for a taste of that juicy faux beef. Over the next year, the demand for Impossible and similar plant-based meat alternatives blew up. It made its way into shops and restaurants in a way that no other vegan product had before. It seemed like viable meat alternatives were finally on the global menu.
Impossible is back at CES and this time around it's tackling pork. I had a chance to taste test it at the launch damn, sustainability has never tasted so good.
To many meat-eaters, the Impossible Burger is a rude idea. This plant-based beef substitute is designed to look like meat, grill like meat, and taste like meat. As someone who recently tasted an Impossible Burger for the first time, I can safely say that these claims aren’t true. Then, at a buzzy event in Las Vegas, I tried the latest iteration, the Impossible Burger 2.0, and I’m somewhat baffled to admit: It’s good.
Impossible Pork is a welcome edition to the company's plant-based line up. It also makes sense. As Impossible pointed out during its press event, pork is the most consumed meat in the world, particularly across Asia.
As such, the tasting menu for the event included plant-based versions o somef beloved Asian pork dishes.
- Banh Mi
- Char Siu Buns
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Sweet & Sour Numbing Meatballs
All of these, as well as Impossible Pork in general, are designed to be halal and kosher friendly. They're also gluten free and don't contain any animal hormones or antibiotics.
Instead, they contain heme - a molecule found in meat, but also in soybeans. The DNA of the molecule is extracted from the plant and inserted into genetically engineered yeast to ferment.
This in turn provides the look and flavour of real meat, which I can now personally confirm.
After the press conference, chefs prepared the pork at various stations around the room, explaining how the non-meat cooked and why it browned in the similar fashion to regular pork.
One of the reasons is the fat content. As we have discussed in the past, Impossible meat isn't particularly healthy, because it isn't meant to be. It's not a salad - it's supposed to be as close to its meat counterpart as possible without actually being made of flesh.
So yes, it contains fat in order to not taste like arse. But the good news is it contains around 60 per cent less fat and zero cholesterol, so you are consuming less calories than in regular pork.
More importantly - it tastes really god damn good.
I made my way through almost everything on the menu in the name of hard journalism and couldn't fault a single dish. The texture perfectly replicated freshly minced pork and I don't think many people would be able to tell the difference.
The flavour was equally incredible. The meat was juicy, fun to eat and complimented the accompanying flavours of each dish.
The katsu and dan dan noodles
But this is also an important point to remember - I didn't get the chance to try the Impossible Pork by itself. The majority of the dishes were rich in sauces and other strong flavour profiles, such as the chilli in the Dan Dan noodles. They were undoubtedly delicious, but also had the potential to mask a lack of pork flavour.
The closest I came to naked Impossible Pork was the bahn mi. I thoroughly enjoyed it but would have relished the opportunity to try it on its own to get a more pure taste.
Char siu buns and shumai
While the Impossible Pork was delicious, the most palate pleasing portion of the evening was the notion of possibility.
Impossible CEO and biochemist Pat Brown indicated that fish and seafood were being considered for the future, which would be a big deal for countries like Australia. He also addressed the glaring omission from its current fake pork lineup - bacon. Don't worry, they're working on it.
"It's going to be an epic moment when we release the first kosher bacon cheeseburger," Brown said at the event.
Some Aussies may be happy to hear that an Impossible Sausage has also been announced, although sadly my mouth didn't get to take a run at that.
But who knows, perhaps they'll become a staple of Saturday morning Bunnings sausage sizzles in the future. Considering this carnivore's experience with Impossible meat so far, I wouldn't be mad about it.
The author travelled to CES 2020 on a scholarship from the Consumer Technology Association.