Something exciting has happened in the food world and we have the chickpea to thank for it. Actually we have the liquid that surrounds it for this new discovery. With it , vegans now can expand their diets to include everything from meringues to mayo.
Jane Black wrote about this breakthrough in today's New York Times Food section It started with Goose Wohlt, a software engineer from Indiana and recent vegan who was in charge of the dessert for his family's Passover seder. He wanted to create a meringue however , as any vegan home chef will tell you, is impossible. Replacing the egg , in particular, the egg white is difficult , even more so to it replicate. Egg whites are a combination of water and proteins, and it has been impossible to create an animal friendly version - until Mr. Wohlt started tinkering with the idea.Science is his passion, Before the chickpeas, his great love was antigravity.He scoured literature on proteins, starches and vegetable gums.It was his wife however who provided the key to his discovery. She had mentioned seeing a video about two French cooks who used the liquid from canned chickpeas to make a chocolate mousse. He decided to try it with the meringues. It worked. The liquid whipped up instantly into a snowy white foam and create the perfect meringue.He posted it on Facebook to a group called "What Fat Vegans Eat" back in March and created a sensation. He christened the liquid aquafaba, Latin for bean water.
It is a true game changer and something both professional and home chefs can get excited about. (it made me order an immersion blender on overnight delivery so I can try the recipes). Aquafaba is now being used in everything from pancakes to purees. Even companies are getting in on the craze. Sir Kensington, a condiment company is introducing a vegan mayonnaise using aquafaba. How does chickpea water turn into glossy meringue and silky mayo? It has to do with having the same chemical makeup as egg whites: ninety per cent water and ten percent water. when the two are whipped together, those proteins unfold and bond together trapping the air bubbles caused by whisking. Pour aquafaba into a mixer and it will foam instantly.The only drawback is the slightly beany smell that disappears when cooked. There's no residual flavor and best of all few calories.It's excellent as a sub for the real mayo. Many have tried to replicate the original using peas which created a vegetal aftertaste. I am looking forward to making the mayo recipe with it since eggs are off my table thanks to gallbladder issues.It'll be flavorful thanks to the addition of dry mustard and lemon juice, perfect for sandwiches and salads.
Aquafaba is a rising star. It's an exciting new ingredient that will be a kitchen necessary in years to come.Watch yourselves, egg whites, you;re about to be replaced!