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Season’s Greetings From the Other White Meat That’s Not Meat at All: Impossible Pork

Following the success of its convincing “beef” burger and faux chicken nuggets, Impossible Foods is debuting its take on pork at David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar

A process shot showing a pan of rice cakes coated in Impossible Foods pork ragu being spooned into a serving bowl.
The much-loved spicy rice cakes at New York’s Ssäm Bar, now made with Impossible Foods pork.

Impossible Foods came on the scene in 2016 with a realistically bloody and beefy-tasting plant-based burger. The company’s approach to meat-substitution was aimed at making realistic meat-alternatives, something the bean-heavy veggie burgers of the past were not interested in — or failed at — doing. David Chang’s Nishi was the first restaurant to introduce diners to the burger, and now you can buy it in grocery stores and order it at fast food restaurants. Since then, the company has added (convincingly fast food-like) chicken nuggets to its line of products. And after announcing last year that it would be rounding out its fake-blood-dripping arsenal of meats with Impossible Pork, the other (other) white meat (that’s actually not meat) has finally reached market.

In a full-circle moment, the company is introducing diners to its not-pork in collaboration with the new location of Chang’s New York restaurant Ssäm Bar. It will be served as part of the restaurant’s much-loved rice cake dish, a “Sichuan pork ragu with whipped tofu.” The item, as Eater New York critic Ryan Sutton lamented in a recent review, had been removed from the original menu. At earlier iterations of the restaurant, Sutton says that eating the dish was “akin to sampling an Italian-style Bolognese reinterpreted through the lens of a Michelin-starred chef.” Well, now the rice cakes are sorta back. On Instagram, the restaurant announced that starting Thursday, September 23, for a limited time, diners can get their hands on the dish — made with Impossible Pork.

According to CNET, Impossible Pork will next become available at 100-plus restaurants in Hong Kong starting October 4, and will touch down in Singapore later this year. In 2019, CNET spoke with Impossible Foods’ CEO Pat Brown, who told the publication that “pigs are the single most popular source of meat globally and particularly in Asia,” and said that when it came to creating a product that would have an impact in Asian markets, “pork is kind of a no-brainer.”

In the meantime, interested diners in the States should keep an eye out, as Impossible Pork is available for restaurants to purchase commercially. For consumers who avoid pork for cultural or religious reasons, the release of Impossible Pork might not deliver in the ways they’d hoped: The product has not, despite early talk of being designed for halal and kosher consumers, been given either stamp of approval. That’s because, though it is made primarily with soy, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and Impossible’s trademark melange of amino acids and heme — the stuff that made its burgers famously bleed — according to a statement shared with CNET, Impossible wants to “continue to use the term ‘pork’ in our product name,” and “the authorizing bodies will not certify a product called ‘pork.’”

According to Impossible Foods, their new fake pig meat will have a dramatically smaller environmental footprint than actual pork. That could mean using up to 85 percent less water and 82 percent less land, all while generating 77 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. But what does the stuff actually taste like? The company describes the Impossible Pork as featuring the “versatile flavor and texture of pork.” In other words, cooks and diners can probably expect, much like its faux chicken product, a vaguely meaty, relatively mild taste — a less intense imitation of flavor than the company has attempted with its beef replacement.

Some of my Eater coworkers were surprised that Impossible Pork was a new product, because they were pretty sure the Impossible Sausage breakfast sandwiches they’ve been eating from Starbucks and Burger King were supposed to taste like pork. So maybe fake meat can taste like all (or any) kinds of meat protein, if you set your mind to it. Every day is so full of surprises!