Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Mayo and Me
I was a kid raised on Miracle Whip. It fit in well alongside the Kraft processed cheese slices, canned Kam luncheon meat, white bread and Tang orange drink that were also fixtures in my mother's kitchen when I was growing up. It wasn't until I left home to head off to college that I had real mayonaise for the first time and it quickly became a condiment of choice on sandwiches. I had been a ketchup-loving kid and had never explored mustard, since my only exposure to it had come from the vile neon yellow stuff that squirted out of the plastic bottle in the fridge which only Mom ever seemed to use for her burgers or egg sandwiches. But mayo? Rich tangy mayo? It stuck. Or at least it did until around half-through my vegetarian years, as I found myself beginning to shuffle out dairy and egg-based products.
At some point, years later, one of the large supermarkets here began to carry Nayonaise. I brought home a jar of it one day and my non-vegetarian spouse at the time seemed overjoyed with it. It never quite clicked with me, though. I didn't like its funny aftertaste and it reminded me of a cheap blah variation of the Miracle Whip with which I'd grown up. Clutching my sandwiches protectively, I opted to explore the world of mustards instead and found myself falling for everything from creamy licorice-scented tarragon mustards to sharp and grainy Dijons. Imagine my surprise a few years later when I found myself noticing another vegan mayo contender in my grocer's refrigerated section.
Discovering Vegenaise was like discovering mayo all over again, except without the torture and slaughter. It felt rich and had a pleasant taste and for a short while, mustard got pushed aside and I indulged myself. Vegenaise won a spot in my fridge, but not for long -- or at least, it wasn't a permanent and everyday spot. Oil-based Vegenaise's 90 (versus soy-based Nayonaise's 35) calories per tablespoon was disheartening, particularly because I think that I could have made Vegenaise a food group. These days, I've learned to regard it as a treat. When I do buy it, it's usually with a specific purpose in mind, more often than not to make chickpea salad wraps or potato salad. (I've not tried Earth Balance's oil-based mayo since it's unavailable in these parts, but like Vegenaise, it also contains around 90 calories a tablespoon. (I would, of course, be quite happy to try it out if the friendly folks at Earth Balance ever decided to send me a care package containing a jar of it along with their Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Puffs, their P.B. Popps and their Vegan Aged White Cheddar Popcorn to review. But I digress...)
I've never played around much with making vegan mayo myself. I tried a tofu-based recipe out of some 70s whole foods cookbook at some point while I was in college and experimenting with basic vegetarian recipes. It had used powdered soy milk and it was simply awful. Times have changed, though. These days, ready-made soy and other plant-based milks are plentiful, as our various textures of tofu. Over and above all of this, vegan cookbook authors and food bloggers have also been creating and experimenting with nut-based recipes for mayo. The tastes, textures, nutritional and caloric values all differ considerably, as do methods used to thicken them. I've gathered together a variety of recipes to make plant-based mayo from a number of the blogs or cookbook authors whose other recipes I've loved and whose mayo recipes come highly recommended. With the exception of this one, I'll skip over the overwhelming majority of tofu-based recipes out there; do a Google search and you'll find hundreds. Maybe in a future post, I'll indulge myself in an informal mayo testing of a number of them along with those here to compare and contrast.
First, though, here's a pretty informative post about the "science" of making mayo (it comes from a non-vegan who sometime last year decided to dabble with a 30-day plant-based diet -- I reckon that it didn't stick). Its focus is on the fact that all the egg yolk in animal-based mayo does is serve as an emulsifier. Find another emulsifier and you're all set. Seriously, read the article. Now, on to the recipes...
The recipe that roped me into spending most of my day thinking about mayonaise today is by Claire at the must-bookmark Chez Cayenne blog. Over the weekend, she posted a recipe for Cashew Mayonaise that introduced me to the whole idea of using cashews to make mayo. I've only ever used them to make "cheese" before, so this is intriguing to me.
Isa Chandra Moskovitz has a recipe for Cashew Miso Mayo in her book Appetite for Reduction which she states outright shouldn't be expected to taste "exactly" like mayo, although it still does the trick on sandwiches and in salads. A Facebook friend told me that it's a staple in his home.
Susan Voisin of the wonderful FatFree Vegan Kitchen site posted one just last year for Tofu Cashew Mayonnaise. She throws in the suggestion to use cashew butter instead of soaked cashews to ensure a smooth consistency if using a regular blender or food processor (i.e. rather than a high speed blender or processor).
Beverly Lynn Bennett, author of almost all of the vegan-related books of the Complete Idiot's Guide series, features an Almond Mayo recipe on her website. There are a number of similar ones scattered all across the internet, many warning of the absolute need for thorough soaking of the almonds and the use of a high-powered blender or processor, since they're more difficult to process into as creamy a texture as are cashews. You'll end up with mayo with a slightly grainy texture.
The Vegan Epicurean blog has a recipe for a Reduced Fat Almond Milk Mayonaise which its creator admits doesn't have quite that right texture one expects from mayo, but it's an incredibly straightforward recipe. It's her soy milk variation on it for her basic Homemade Vegan Mayonaise recipe which intrigues me most, however, since she claims that it it's "just like egg mayonaise" and several of the comments left in response to it praise it for being similar to Vegenaise in taste and texture.
If you dig around enough, you can even find simple flax-based recipes for mayo, like this one. And then there are the avocado-based mayo recipes that just sounds so very scrumptious.
So what about you folks? Do you have any favourite vegan mayo recipes to share? Do tell.
Posted by M at Tuesday, May 28, 2013