Sesame Soy Curls with Asparagus and Quinoa

Sesame Soy Curls with Asparagus

Last week I flew to Seattle to surprise my husband, who was there on a business trip. While in Seattle we stopped into a little vegan grocery store, Sidecar Pigs for Peace. It’s a really great store, and I can’t tell you how fun it is for me to walk into a shop and think, “I can buy anything I want! It’s all vegan!” I’m overwhelmed in a similar way whenever I get to go to a vegan restaurant. You mean I can order anything on the menu? Are you serious?

One of the things I brought back with me to Boston was a package of Soy Curls. I saw them for the first time in a Chicken-style salad on Julie Hasson’s Everyday Dish. I’d never seen them in Boston, so I jumped at the last bag sitting on the shelf at Sidecar. They sat in my purse all the way back to Boston, and I tried to explain to my husband what they were exactly. Looking at the dry, shriveled pieces in the package, I could tell he wasn’t convinced.

Dry Soy Curls

So I went ahead and made myself a dish with them. When I sat down on the couch (I’ve co-opted the dining room table to use in the kitchen), he asked for a bite. Then another. And then requested them for dinner the next night.

Soy Curls are great because all you have to do is soak them in hot water to rehydrate them, then flavor/cook them however you want. Here’s a great, easy and FAST dinner that’s perfect for spring asparagus. You can substitute tofu, setian or tempeh for the Soy Curls if you’re unable to find them, but you may need to adjust the favoring; soy curls seem to absorb the sauce in a special way.

Sesame Soy Curls with Asparagus and Quinoa
Serves Two

1 Cup Quinoa, rinsed three times
1 1/2 Cups Cool Water
1/2 tsp Salt, scant
1 tsp Oil

2 Cups Dry Soy curls
2 Tbs Oil
1-2 Cloves Garlic, minced (optional, I left it out)
1 Dry Chili, crushed, optional
2 Small Carrots, thinly sliced or grated
1 lb Asparagus, trimmed to 1/2-1/3 of the stalks
1 Tbs Sugar
3 Tbs Soy Sauce/Tamari (reduced sodium)
1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
Sesame Seeds for garnish.

Rinse the quinoa three times, rubbing the grains in your hands. While the majority of quinoa now available in stores already has the bitter coating of saponin removed, I find there is usually still some left. Your quinoa will tastes better if you give it good scrub.

Add rinsed quinoa, water, salt, and oil to a pot that has a lid. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to low to simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it steam for another 10. Don’t open the lid until the last 10 minutes are up. Fluff before serving.

Rehydrated Soy Curls

Place soy curls in a bowl and cover with boiling/near boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to re-hydrate. Once hydrated, squeeze out any remaining liquid.

Heat a wok over high heat and add oil. Add soy curls and stir-fry until browned. Remove curls from the wok and add garlic, chili and veggies (using more oil if needed). When asparagus is bright green and tender-crisp, add soy curls back into the wok. Add soy sauce, sugar and vinegar and toss well. Drizzle sesame oil over the top. Taste a soy curl and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve over quinoa and top with sesame seeds


  1. Becky

    Oh, I love that store! I live in the Seattle area, so whenever I make a trip over, I make a point to bring a cooler and stock up on the goodies. Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re directly supporting the sanctuary.

    The soy curls get a big thumbs up from me as well. I’ll have to try this recipe. :)

  2. Mark

    Hope you had a good time in Seattle, and hope you enjoyed some of our awesome vegan restaurants like Quickie’s, In the Bowl, Cyberdogs, and Cafe Flora!

  3. Lustful Vegan

    I think I’m going to have to quest for soy curls, just so I can try this. Asparagus is just coming into season here — hurray!

    And hey, I didn’t realize you were in Boston! I’m heading there for work next week. Can you recommend any vegan-friendly restaurants downtown? So far friends have suggested Veggie Planet and The Elephant Walk. =)

  4. Sophie

    Love the idea of the soy curls – so handy to have in! Quinoa and asparagus go really nicely together too, indeed that is exactly what we had for dinner last night (with a few other things chucked in)

    Nowhere seems to stock them in the UK (unless anybody else knows differently?) but goodnessdirect have something that sounds really similar called soy chunks

  5. katie

    so are they akin to tvp chunks? (except soy-based, of course.) or are they something totally different?

    regardless, my interest is piqued!

  6. Juno

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I was given some soy curls a couple months ago and didn’t have a clue as to what to do with them. I plan on trying this very soon!


  7. Jessica

    That’s so funny – I was in Seattle last week, too! I had some of the best vegan meals in my life out there!

  8. miin

    awesome name for a shop!
    i just wanted to let you know.. it’s not a good idea to eat a lot of those processed soy products or vegan cheeses because the way the soy has been treated does not get rid of its toxicity adequately, thus the rise in thyroid cancers since the advent of western soy products.
    i really think it’s better to stick to asian made soy products, mainly just plain old tofu, that has lemon juice instead of niacin as a coagulator.. it’s safer and i honestly think it tastes better.
    still, i know how it feels to want variety.. your recipes are amazing! too bad i’m raw vegan these days :)
    keep it up!
    :) m

  9. Sidecar for Pigs Peace

    Thanks for coming by our little store! I love the Soy Curls, too. They’re so versatile.

    Can I let your readers know that we’re a non-profit owned by the Pigs Peace Sanctuary? So not only can you shop without scrutinizing labels, you can support a terrific animal sanctuary, too. Double yay!

    Next time you come to Seattle, be sure to introduce yourself, I’d love to tell you in person how great your blog is. :)

  10. jasmine

    I know what you mean — whenever I go to a vegan restaurant I take FOREVER to look at the menu because I’m so overwhelmed! I’m not used to having so many choices!

  11. Tartelette

    I saw them at a store here (big surprise) but passed well I won’t next time. I am not vegan but appreciate eating vegan or vegetarian when i am single for dinner sometimes. The dish looks wonderful!

  12. alluna

    this looks delicious!

    i’m just jumping in to say that your recipes are absolutely fantastic! it’s really encouraging to see that someone has learned to make all this amazing food without spending crazy amounts of money on culinary schooling. and especially because it’s all edible for us vegans. thanks a lot for this great blog!

  13. DJ

    Soy curls excite me – I need to have a closer look in the Chinese supermarkets over here to see if I can find them…

  14. TheVintageVeganPotter

    They look delicious. I am wondering what the texture is like though. Are they similar in texture to tvp or seitan? Or something completely different? Do they have much flavor on their own? I’m thinking of buying a bag, but want to be sure if I’d be somewhat interested in them…

    The texture is hard to describe… tender, less chewy than seitan… They don’t have any flavor at all (the only ingredient listed is “delicately textured whole soybeans”) so you need to flavor them during cooking or soaking.

  15. Chef Erik

    Very nice recipe! I love cooking with quinoa, it’s my favorite grain. You should submit your recipe to my Veg Head carnival, details are in my sidebar. Hope you can make it :)

  16. Dawn

    We had just ordered the soy curls and they arrived just in time to find your recipe. We (my husband and I) made it for dinner Saturday. It was delicious!!!!! We plan on making it again!

  17. Spiceislandvegan

    I use soy curls all the time. I usually order 12 lbs. of it from the creator of soy curls. Then, I split it with a vegan friend nearby.

    Soy curls absorbed any flavoring you add to it. It’s very versatile. I use it as teriyaki ‘chicken’, Korean BBQ with spicy gojuchang sauce even chicken-style soups. I love soy curls. I use Bill’s Best chiknish to flavor it.

    One tip: if you leave it out too long in the cupboard, it can go rancid. I put my soy curls in the freezer to prevent this to happen. Especially, if you have 6 lbs. of it, it’s best to store it in the freezer.

  18. Carrie

    I made this tonight for dinner except that I used soya chunks instead of curls (I didn’t have any on hand). It was really good! Even my omni bf liked it. :)

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  20. Kim

    This was perfect, I wanted to find something to use up my asparagus and try quinoa. I couldn’t find any soy curls so I used store-bought mock duck. It was super good, even a few days after.

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  22. Pelluco

    Amazing recipe and flavor mix. I adapted it with Couscous instead of Quinoa and Zucchini instead of Asparragus. It was really good. The Zucchini took a soft sweet taste which combined amazing with their bitter taste.

    Amazing recipe,

  23. Kara

    Thanks so much for this. I was a bit afraid of the soy curls (I got them as a gift), but your recipe made it easy and delicious to love them. I subbed frozen broccoli for the asparagus (still to early, I think), and it was so good that my faux meat hating boyfriend loved it too.

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