It might be intimidating or seem boring at first, yet vegan cooking opens up a world of wonders if approached with the right amount of imagination. Traditional dishes can be easily modified with a couple of vegan swaps and new flavours and tastes can be discovered by applying classing cooking methods to simple vegetables. Chefs of all styles of cuisine can get creative with plants and leave their customers in awe.
Some "new" ingredients and their uses:
Tofu: The process of making tofu is basically that of making cheese, but with soy milk. The result is a firm block which with the right preparation technique and spices can be transformed into a great meat/fish replacer while it's silken variant works great in smooth dessert recipes. Tip: we recommend draining and freezing the tofu for great texture and easy taste-absorption.
Jamie Oliver's Chocolate Pots
Seitan: This bad-boy has a great resemblance to the texture of meat, it is high in protein and picks up flavours rapidly. It is easy to make but great brands, such as Bertyn, are on the market too, selling seitan in all it's variety: plain, flavoured, in steaks or minced up which is great for all kind of preparations such as bolognese sauce, sausages or burgers.
Plant-based milks: Soy, oat, rice, almond, coconut, the list of plant-based milk goes on and on. While oat milk goes great in a latté, soy and rice are good for adding liquid to any dish, coconut goes great in creamy sauces and almond is perfect for desserts.
Flax/Chia Seeds: It can seem like quite a hassle to bake without eggs, but a teaspoon of these magic seeds per egg, soaked in water, do just the trick. Other hacks include half a can of soda, half a banana, pumpkin puree, and soy milk. Add a pinch of black salt to get a true egg flavour.
Aquafaba: Nothing goes to waste! The drained liquid of chickpeas (used for hummus) was recently discovered to make a great replacement for egg whites. Whip up a crunchy merengue, vegan butter or butter cream, cheese or your favourite cocktail.
Some re-invented basics:
Portobello, Oyster or regular mushrooms: With their earthy taste and bite-worthy texture, mushrooms steal the show in any traditionally meat dish. Season and grill in the pan like you would any animal-based protein and you end up with a plant-based meal that can seduce any meat-eater.
See: Portobello Steaks
Eggplant: Chefs are going back to the versatile and flavourful vegetables that were long seen as side-dishes and making them shine at the heart of the dish. Instead of watering them down, they get cooked/grilled/baked in their wholeness. Topped with grainy sea salt they can be grilled in a (charcoal) oven, dipped in coating and fried they make a mean main dish. Sliced thinly and roasted in the oven they can even pass for bacon.
Carrots: From salmon to cheese sauce, something as simple as a carrot can be used to re-create a golden classic. Chances are it will lower your food cost and it will taste exactly the same.
See: Smoked Salmon
Lentils/Chickpeas/Beans/Quinoa/Nut: Most vegan/vegetarian options in menus lack protein and texture. When prepared right, legumes, grains and nuts can make sure a dish is fulfilling and satisfying. Fried with salt, pepper and spicy cayenne, chickpeas, for example, go great on this Caesar Salad.
Important: Make sure to use vegetable stock in all your vegan preparations. Also avoid honey (use agave or maple as a sweetener instead), gelatine (use agar-agar), and check the ingredients for some of your ready-made produce such as pasta or bread to see if they don't contain any animal products.
To check if an alcoholic beverage is vegan-friendly go to www.barnivore.com
Thank you for thinking about us and cooking healthier, eco-friendly and animal-free!
Do you own a restaurant interested in serving more vegan options?
Contact us and we will gladly show you the way to vegan cuisine and put your business in touch with new customers looking for a vegan offer in Brussels. We've hosted several successful vegan pop-ups around Brussels and have motivated many restaurants to serve more vegan options.