I left this topic as last purposely. The reason? Eggs are the most complicated ingredient to replace in traditional recipes. Anyway, it was an interesting riddle to solve, the one that has forced me to reopen the Stryer (one of the most popular study book for biochemistry).
I have already explained the role of eggs in recipes, here. Not a case, it was one of the first posts on the blog. Eggs play a crucial role in the kitchen. If you missed the former episodes, here a little recap of their role in recipes:
Emulsifier: eggs contain lecithin and emulsifying proteins that allow bringing together oily and watery phases. There explained how you obtain things as mayonnaise, Hollandaise sauce, creme patisserie and English custard.
Jellifying: thanks to the presence of jellifying proteins, eggs are used in the preparation of yummy stuff as puddings and quiches (slurp :)).
So, how to replace eggs? Well, it depends what you have to make. If your goal is a pudding, you have to search another jellifying agents. No, gelatine is not an option, as it is of animal origin. If, on the other hand, you want to make a vegan mayo, you must see which food of plant origin has good emulsifying properties. Already the last summer, I explained you how to prepare a vegan mayo by employing soy milk.
So, just to sort things out, here a list of the most common options from plant origins:
Jellifying agents of plant origin
Corn starches_widely used in may Sicilian desserts as gelo di mellone or bianco mangiare. Personally, I find that starches leave a bit of aftertaste and I am still in doubt about using them as an alternative jellying agent.
Agar-agar_very popular in Asia, in particular in Japan (not to mention in all the microbiology labs, where it is used to jellify the culture broth). Agar-agar is a polysaccharide extracted by an algae. I read that is practically tasteless, therefore not leaving that annoying aftertaste typical of corn starch. Honestly, I have never tried it, but I am desperately looking for it…without a great outcome so far…hey, nobody knows where I can find agar-agar in Ottawa? :)
Pectin_mostly used in the preparation of jams or fruit pastes. I have throughly talked about them here, thus I am not going to dwell on this ;)
Emulsifying agents of plant origin
Soy lecithin_not the best emulsifier ever. I have used it repeatedly in the desperate attempt of obtaining a vegan mayo. After a little research, I then understood that the best solution is using soy milk.
Soy beverage_it contains a significant amount of lecithin and proteins. This characteristic allows the preparation of more stable emulsions than those obtained by using soy lecithin only. And, indeed, it became crucial in the preparation of my vegan mayo :)
Do you have other options to add to this list? Let me know in the comment :)