Elliot Sharifi of Obour Foods — coming soon to the Ferry Building — at a farmers market.
Elliot Sharifi of Obour Foods — coming soon to the Ferry Building — at a farmers market.

‘Porkless’ and ‘chick’n’— it’s what’s for (kosher) dinner; Hummus comes to Ferry Building

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Obour Foods, a local hummus company that was featured in this column in November 2019, is opening its first store next month, inside the San Francisco Ferry Building, as reported by the San Francisco Business Times.

Obour Foods has been sold at farmers markets in San Francisco and has distinguished itself with flavors like hot curry hummus, z’hug hummus and other nontraditional flavors in returnable glass jars. It also sells its own tahini; in addition to plain, there is a date molasses tahini, pomegranate molasses tahini and grape molasses tahini.

Obour Foods was started by Elliot Sharifi, a San Francisco resident of Persian Jewish descent who began it as a side project while working in finance.

At the time we highlighted him in this space almost two years ago, he had 14 employees and was selling at seven farmers markets.

We who write about food are constantly receiving press releases about this or that product, and every once in a while, curiosity gets the better of us. Especially when the publicist starts out by saying that the faux pork product they’re introducing is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. (Extra props to this publicist in particular for making the press release about as Jew-y as it could be, with the opening line, “How about a story on pareve ‘pork’ as easy to prepare as potato pancakes from a box?”)

Everyone can use a bit more faux pork in their lives, and since I just wrote about and tried Hooray Foods’ plant-based bacon, I decided to try JADA Porkless Mix.

I’m not one to make potato pancakes from a box. But that’s neither here nor there. If I were a watcher of “Shark Tank,” I might have heard of the product, but I’m not so I hadn’t. The company began with a vegan version of “chicken salt,” something that’s very popular in Australia, and then moved into alternative plant-based proteins.

A box of JADA Porkless MixI am all for lessening our meat consumption. It’s hard to live on the planet and be a conscious citizen these days and not be aware of how much our diet choices collectively contribute to climate change. So I am always more than happy and curious to try the new plant-based alternatives on the market, especially since they are improving all the time, and products continue to enter the market. The problem I have with many of them is how overly processed they are.

JADA’s Porkless Mix is mostly made of textured wheat protein, pea protein and pea fiber. You mix the contents of the bag with a cup of water and a tablespoon of oil, and put it in the fridge for 10 minutes. Then it can be shaped into patties or links to be fried, or the crumbled mass can be fried like ground pork.

While there are some suggested seasoning ideas on the box, like adding garlic or other spices to the mix, I had a hankering for Asian food that night, so I found a recipe for Vietnamese pork salad over rice noodles and swapped the JADA for the pork. I seasoned the pork mix with garlic, ginger, two hot Thai chilies (affectionately called “mouse sh!# peppers” by some) and one of my favorite flavoring agents, fish sauce. I served it with shredded carrots, cucumber slices, radishes, scallions, cilantro and peanuts tossed with a fish sauce and lime juice dressing over rice noodles.

Did it taste like pork? Not really. It was so much lighter. But did it give a satisfying eating experience? Yes. My husband and I agreed we could do a lot worse for dinner, but he believes that I could probably make cardboard taste good, if I seasoned it right.

Would I buy it myself? Perhaps.

In addition to its salt blends, there is also a plant-based faux “chick’n” product in a box, both unseasoned and Mediterranean-flavored. All are available on the JADA website or on Amazon.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."