There are certain products that I only learned about when I turned vegan and when I had to explore all kind of new combinations of food to see how to satisfy my desire for umami taste and for creaminess. I soon found some totally new highlights that made me really happy and that made me not miss a thing as a vegan. So here they are:
1. Yeast extract
This is my absolute superhero for umami taste in the vegan cuisine. I especially use it to create super delicious cheese-like creams. I make a roux with margarine and flour, add soy cream, add a tablespoon of yeast extract and spices. I love to add that cream to fried potatoes, any type of mushroom dish, for pasta and to risottos.
2. Yeast flakes
Besides yeast extract there are also yeast flakes that taste a bit like parmesan. I also use them for sauces to add some savoury flavor but mostly I use them as a topping for pasta with tomato sauce.
Yeast extract and flakes not only have an intense flavor but are also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein. Read further here.
Aquafaba is the left-over water in which chickpeas have been cooked. It is a great replacement for eggwhite. It contains carbohydrates, proteins, and other soluble plant solids which have migrated from the seeds to the water during the cooking process. In the kitchen it is used for emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing and thickening. To replace one medium egg white you use 3 tablespoons of aquafaba in a recipe. The simplest way to use it is to decant the liquid from chickpeas. It is suitable for meringues, macarons, nougat, icing, ice cream, fudge, and marshmallows but also for savory egg-replacement applications such as dairy substitutes, mayonnaise and cheese substitutes. I love using it for desserts and mayonnaise.
Cashews represent a perfect base for a lot of vegan recipes. Their neutral taste and high amout of (healthy) fats and proteins make them suitable for creams but also for cheese substitutes. One of my favorite recipe is the raw vegan cashew cheesecake. You find the recipe and my favorite combinations for it here. But I also made vegan mozzerella with cashews (and with the above mentioned nutritional yeast to add the cheesy flavor).
5. Smoked tofu
For those who miss the taste of meat smoked tofu might be a good replacement. I love using it for sandwiches, adding it to pasta with creamy sauce or fried potatoes.
6. Kala Namak
In case you might be afraid to miss the taste of egg Kala namak is perfect for you. It is a rock salt from the Himalaya region with a sulphurous, pungent-smell which gives dishes you use it with a hard-boiled-egg aroma. Kala namak has been also praised in traditional Ayurveda and used for medical qualities. I use it for scrambled tofu and quiche.
I hope you are inspired to try out some new foods in your kitchen. Bon Appetit!