Friday, July 30, 2010

The ultimate vegan egg yolk

Okay, I know that many vegans are all, "Why do you have to imitate meat products/cheese/eggs at all?  Why not just enjoy the enormous diversity of vegan options?"  Fair enough.  I agree with you, to a point.  On the other hand, many of us fondly remember foods we really used to love that it would be nice if there were a vegan option for. 

For me, one of those foods is eggs.  Anybody who reads this blog for more than three or four posts will be aware of my enormous love and veneration for the omelet recipe from Vegan Brunch.  However, as much as I adore it, there are times when it just...isn't...enough.  One of those times, for me, is the morning after I've had a little too much to drink.  Admittedly these times are very, very rare, of course, but in my pre-vegan days what I used to crave then was a nice soft-poached egg.  Tofu subs extremely well for egg white, but what about the yolk?  When it counts, you really need something rich, fatty, yellow, and altogether special.  So here I am having done experiment after experiment, offering you the perfected vegan yolk! 

Actually, even the image above isn't my best yolk, because they're kind of tricky to cook.  Unfortunately, my very best yolks have been accompanied by imperfect additional's an example, showing that the yolk has its own dignity as a sauce as well as a trompe d'oeil:

Apologies in advance to anyone who thinks this is gross.  I understand where you're coming from, but on the other hand, this is the ultimate in delicious, so I urge you to lay aside your prejudices for the 30 seconds it takes to make this recipe, and try it.

My recipe is based on this one, which I could not make work for me, so I adapted it, as follows  [On edit: go over here for a slightly re-worked recipe with better instructions]:

Vegan egg yolk
makes 2 yolks

1/2 tbsp Veganaise
1/2 tbsp carrot juice (if you don't have carrot juice, just finely grate a carrot and squeeze the juice out of it)
2 tbsp vegetable broth (or 2 tbsp water and 1/4 tsp nutritional yeast)
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tsp cornstarch

Put all the ingredients in a small bowl. 

That's the easy part.  Now for the tricky part.  Put the little bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds.  Whisk the mixture up.  Put it back in at 5 second increments (I can't stress this enough; the egg at the top of this post was put in for an additional 10 seconds and it nearly separated).  You should need at most 2 5-second increments to fully cook the egg yolk.  It should be like a smooth, yellow-orange bechamel.  If it separates--and you'll know when this happens--it still tastes good but there's nothing you can do to it to make it smooth and nice-looking; you'll either have to start over or just do what I do and eat a delicious but not-so-great-looking egg.

The egg itself is just a slab of fried fresh tofu:

The link above gives directions for carving the tofu in an intricate kind of way to make it look more like a fried egg, but eh, once you have the taste, you have it all, in my opinion. 

It isn't an egg, but it admirably fits the purpose of one.

(Did you notice the sneaky inclusion of zucchini cakes?  Ooh, it's zucchini season again!)

The salad is from Mark Bittman's 101 simple salads for the season, brought to my attention by a friend at work.  I got all the way to 21, but plan to refer back to this wonderful post again and again during this incredibly hot summer...


  1. I used to eat fried eggs on a regular basis in my pre-vegan days, and sometimes those occasional tofu scrambles (while still good and all) make me miss the flavor and texture of an egg, over-easy. In other words, your vegan egg yolk sounds like something I need to try. :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Interesting, I don't miss eggs at all but I know many vegans do so I 'll bookmark it. Question: can it be done as well if you don't want to use a microwave? any alternatives?

  3. Tiffany, the yolk does taste strangely like a soft egg yolk.

    Rosalie, the problem with a stovetop method is that there's so little of the mixture, less than a quarter of a cup, so you'd need a really little pot. I'm going to keep experimenting and do have a Turkish coffee pot that I tried once with but it didn't work out too well--it seems to be something in the heating-and-cooling of the microwave that makes the yolk gel. I'll post any new methods that work, though.

  4. I missed this post when it came out. It all looks fantastic.

  5. You are (as always) amazing. I don't even particularly miss eggs but I want to try this anyway just because it looks amazing. Unfortunately, my microwave tends to conk out if I keep turning it off and on after a few seconds, although if it's just twice, maybe it will behave itself.

  6. I want to say "holy cow!" but maybe what I should say is "holy chicken!" I have a couple of realistic-looking egg recipes waiting for trials, and I'll add this one to them. If I ever get a fried egg craving, I'll know just where to look for a solution. Don't forget to sprinkle the tofu with Indian black salt for a nice sulfuric touch. :)

  7. Andrea, I only wish I could find some. My eyes are peeled, and one day I will--then my eggs will be just unstoppable!

  8. Genius! It's this kind of post that makes vegan blogging so awesome--not just recipes, but true experimentation. And I'm totally on board with the occasional "scratch the itch" reproduction fare (esp. all varieties of egg). This is definitely going on the "make asap" list.

  9. Zoa,
    Do you want me to send you some? I think you really need it. Email me and I will mail it to you. I'll be going to my favorite spice store soon and I'm sure they will have it.

  10. Andrea, you are so nice! Your kindness shamed me into getting on my bike and exploring my neighborhood a little farther than I usually do, and I found some in a little store called Spice Island (cute name)about 15 blocks from my house! I also found nigella seeds there ;-) And asafoetida...anyway, thanks for the impetus and expect a post on all this very soon!

  11. Hi! I just made this on the stovetop in a small frying pan and it worked beautifully. I just whisked it as it heated up and in no time it had achieved that yolky texture. :)

  12. Thanks for letting me know, malloreigh. As I say I haven't had much luck on the stovetop, but I'll keep trying :-)

  13. Hi Zoa! Over a year since you've posted this entry, and it's still getting you some fans! :) You've inspired me to try this and write it up in my own blog, -- I'll be checking around your site for some more yummy ideas. Thanks for sharing this one! :)

  14. I happen to be a vegan that used to LOvE eggs. I miss them very much. Thanks for this post!