Recipes and techniques generally advance in baby steps. It’s rare that you find a technique so far out of left field that it changes the way people think about food overnight. Sous vide cooking is up there, as is no-knead bread. In the world of vegan cuisine, nothing has shaken things up like aquafaba—the recently coined term for the liquid inside a can of cooked beans. It’s the kind of technique that’s so mind-blowingly simple that I’m amazed nobody discovered it until just a couple of years ago.
I discovered aquafaba with a recipe for two ingredient meringues a few months ago. It has since nearly completely replaced my use of prepackaged egg substitutes. I am eating a lot more chickpeas now as a result. I’ve also found that canned chickpeas freeze well and defrost quickly.
Thanks to French chef Joël Roessel, I no longer need to pine hopelessly for the meringues of my youth, because I have chickpea brine.
Yes, the dregs you usually pour down the drain when you open a can of chickpeas are actually magical. When whipped, this substance takes on an uncannily egg-white-like texture. Coined aquafaba, or Latin-ish for bean liquid, by vegan baker Goose Wohlt, it’s attracted more than 11,000 members to the Facebook group “Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses!” I’ve been hooked on this Facebook feed for the past two weeks, amazed by all the miraculous things other vegans have done with the chickpea-based foam, like bake beautiful cakes and create delicious-looking pasta.