In the realm of big salads with even bigger dressings, the Caesar—with it’s sharp garlic, salty anchovy, and sour lemon juice—is emperor of them all.
For most people, it’s addictive. But there’s a contingent that avoids Caesar salad because it requires a raw egg or two. (We’re not all Rocky Balboa, after all.)
While cooking through the entire January issue of Bon Appétit, I found the Caesar dressing even the most squeamish eater can indulge in. It swaps out the raw egg in favor of a different ingredient: cashews.
I hope I’m not in too late with this but I can confirm cashews make some awesome creamy stuff— once I was fed a vegan “cheesecake” that was creamy-thick and delicious. (I just wish people would come up with original names for this delicious stuff though, shit’s ridiculous.)
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.
In the briefest of summaries, what’s been omitted is the key ingredients to make it taste like lox: Liquid Smoke + ‘smoked’ sea salt — just in case people decided not to click thru to read the full recipe.
As controversial as sneaking healthy ingredients into junky kid-foods may be (I’ve been known to throw stones myself), parents need to do what they need to do. And, in at least this one case, doing the unthinkable in the name of health led to a totally genius result.
The unthinkable? Emptying an entire package of tofu into the waffle batter.
Sugar in a vegan recipe?! I could just waffle on and on… 😉
I don’t get why haters are so quick to point out that things don’t taste identical to their non-vegan/etc counterpart. Besides the ideological aspect, the health aspect is valid. And lots of recipes we use today came from people experimenting on existing recipes. Though, I do wonder if chasing foods deemed no longer acceptable leads to the semi-vegetarianism that’s been reported in the past…
I have a passion for beans, which developed back when I used to cook for the Tuscan chef Cesare Casella. The Tuscans are famous for their beans (they’re sometimes called the mangiafagioli—bean eaters—in Italy), and Cesare is no exception. When I worked for him, he’d import thousands of pounds of beans every year from Italy, and I learned plenty of tricks from him on how to use them.
One of those tricks was this simple pasta with a sauce made from puréed beans, which I’ve made with chickpeas here. It couldn’t be easier to make: You simply sauté some garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, add some cooked beans along with some of their cooking water, then purée it to make a smooth, creamy sauce. Add a handful of whole cooked beans for some texture, and you’re basically done.
When I dine at Vietnamese and Thai restaurants and request that they leave out the fish sauce, ubiquitous in South Asian cuisine, the dishes sometimes taste as if they are lacking something. That “something” is fish sauce, South Asia’s “secret ingredient” that adds oomph to dishes, injecting that special flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Here is my vegan version that can be universally added to Asian-style dishes, lending them that extra “something.” And the secret ingredients in my fish sauce? Wakame, a seaweed, and the liquid from those jars of fermented tofu, a somewhat stinky Chinese condiment made by pre-serving tofu in wine, vinegar, and other ingredients for months (don’t be put off by the description!). Give it a try and then use it in everything from green papaya salad to Thai-style curries.
I think chemically the trick of fish sauce and anchovies and all that is the combo of glutamate (umami) + nucleotides like GMP and IMP (umami boosters). Glutamate is decaying protein – Nucleotides are decaying RNA/DNA or thereabouts. Yes, we love the taste of rotting things. And the best part is that we can get it from all sorts of places. The “fishy” taste there is provided by the seaweed.