Why would I try and re-create an authentic vegan version of a simple fried egg, when it would be so much easier to just crack one? What’s the big deal?
Well, if you’re new here: Hi, I’m Mitzi, and I’m a vegan. I was a vegetarian for about 10 years before I went vegan 7 years ago and I didn’t understand what was so bad about consuming eggs either.
It’s a very nuanced subject. At first glance it seems harmless since it doesn’t hurt or kill the hen, right?
The truth is, however, that male chicks, being useless for egg-production and usually unsuitable to raise for their meat, are ground up almost immediately after hatching.
On top of that, chickens naturally lay 10-15 eggs a year, over time we have bred them to lay between 200-300.*
*Source: Free from harm
Why is that a problem?
Conditions at egg factory farms are atrocious. Cage floors are of wire mesh so waste falls from the upper tiers onto the chickens below. A single cage, roughly 16 by 18 inches (40-45 cm), holds five to six hens, each with a wingspan of 32 inches (around 80 cm). Hens are bred to be super layers experience so much stress that their accelerated laying span lasts only a year and a half—two years at most—compared with the 15 to 20 years that hens produce eggs under natural conditions. Hens today lay about twice as many eggs per year as hens laid several decades ago, before factory farming, and their tired bodies pay the price. *
And while you may have a choice to buy the “lesser evil” egg carton at the supermarket (cage-free, free-range, organic, etc.), do you think companies who use them in their cakes, cookies, and other convenience products do the same?
If caged egg-“production” is not something you want to support with your consumer’s choice, then not buying products that contain eggs at all is the only way to be consistent.
But my neighbor/grandma/friend
has chickens in their yard,
why can’t I eat those eggs?
First of all, unless your chicken is a rescue, where did you get It from?
If you buy hens from farmers, you’re encouraging the suppliers to buy more chicks. It’s a supply and demand business. Farmers treat chickens like inventory. That’s why the accounting world refers to farmed animals as “livestock”.
At the end of the day, you’re still giving money to the hatchery industry and supporting the exploitation of birds. It’s as simple as that.*
Eggs simply are not ours to take. Chickens benefit greatly from consuming their own unhatched eggs, much more than us humans.
There’s an ongoing debate on whether chicken eggs are actually healthy for humans. We do, however, know, that they are unnecessary to a healthy diet.
So, long story short, why take on all this work just to create an authentic vegan fried egg?
A “regular” fried egg also takes a lot of energy and time to produce, just not yours.
I’d personally rather spend a few hours in the kitchen than exploit animals.
Here’s a great video by activist Earthling Ed highlighting all the issues with backyard eggs:
In most recipes eggs are pretty easy to substitute. The only thing I have been carving for a while was a good, runny, sunny side up, fried egg. It’s not something I would eat on a regular basis before I went vegan, but sometimes you just get a nostalgic craving for something from your childhood. But I’m a grown-up now and I’ve decided not to harm animals just to curb my cravings!
I spent about a week in the kitchen trying out different ways to recreate a plant-based fried egg. Most recipes that are already out there didn’t sound all too authentic to me.
I did a ton of research and watched hours of YouTube.
The yolk that’s gotten the biggest praise was Crossroad Kitchen’s tomato yolk.
To me, tomato just didn’t seem like the right choice taste-wise, given that it is pretty acidic by nature. The taste and texture I had in mind were velvetier and sweeter.
Plus, I wanted to make this recipe as accessible as possible, and yellow tomatoes aren’t easy to come by, especially not year-round.
I did however utilize their idea of using spherification to create the distinct membrane that holds together the runny yolk and make up for a truly authentic vegan fried “egg” experience. Or eggsperience, if you’re into extremely dumb puns like me.
Spherification is a culinary process that employs sodium alginate and either calcium chloride or calcium glucate lactate to shape a liquid into squishy spheres
To put it simply: You drop your liquid yolk in a bath of calcium lactate or calcium glucate. Then you leave it to sit for a few moments and it creates a skin around it, that you can pop just like a regular yolk.
There are several different ways of doing spherification, I used sodium alginate and calcium chloride.
To my surprise, I pretty much nailed the yolk on my first try, and it took me DAYS in the kitchen to get the egg whites just right.
All the recipes I found online and tried were just too pancake-y and had a grainy feel. But in the end, I was pretty happy with the result and it was well worth all the fuss!
I try to keep my recipes fancy, but still accessible. However, I must admit, this one has some special ingredients, you will most likely have to buy just for that. I know, they may sound a bit intimidating, but I promise you, it’s easier than it seems!
- Sodium alginate
This is used to mix into your yolk mixture to create a reaction with the calcium solution.
- Calcium chloride, calcium lactate, calcium sulfate, or calcium gluconate lactate
Mixed with water this creates a solution that you drop your yolk into.
It forms a thin membrane around your sphere.
You can also use this to create little juice pearls, popping boba, or vegan caviar. Maybe even spherical shots for your next cocktail party! Get creative!
- Glutinous rice flour
You can get this at most Asian supermarkets. After you’re done with your vegan fried eggs, you can use it to make mochi!
- Silken tofu
This one isn’t too bad, you can get it at most organic markets and even some larger supermarket chains. If you have any leftovers, you can use it to make Hiyayakko or vegan desserts.
- Kala Namak or Indian Black Salt
This is essential for the eggy, sulfurous taste. You could technically substitute with kosher salt if you only want the look and feel of a fried egg. But for it to be truly authentic in taste as well, you will need it.
You can get it at Asian supermarkets, organic markets, or online.
It’s a true vegan pantry staple and you can use it to make tofu scramble or I’ve even used it in vegan fried rice for that eggy note.
Here are some dishes you could veganize now that you’ve mastered the authentic vegan fried egg:
- The Austrian classic: Spiegelei mit Rösti und Cremespinat (Fried egg with creamy spinach and hash browns
- Serve it with a full English breakfast/fry up
- Croque Madame
- Fried egg sandwich
- Huevos Rancheros
- Serve it with Kimchi fried rice
- Top Korean Bibimbap, vegan tartare, or pasta with the yolk
Authentic Vegan Fried Egg
- Precision scale
- Food processor
- 2-3 Medium Carrots around 150g
- 1-1½ cup Neutral Oil
- ½ tsp Kala Namak
- 1,3 g Sodium Alginate concentration of 0,5%
- 1 cup Water
- 2 g Calcium Chloride concentration of 1%
- 200 ml Water
- 50 g Silken Tofu
- 25 g Glutinous Rice Flour
- 25 g Cornstarch
- 150 ml Water
- ½ tsp Kala Namak to taste
- Preheat your oven to 140 C or 340 F.
- Start by washing your carrots and trimming off the ends. You can cut them into same size pieces, but this is optional.
- Put them in an oven save baking dish and cover completetly in neutral oil.
- Cook for about 2 hours or until completely soft.
- Carefully remove from oven and let cool until cold enough to handle.
- Remove the carrots from the dish but reserve the oil for later.
- Prepare the calcium chloride bath by mixing water with calcium chloride. Set aside.
- In food processor, add carrots, 2 tablespoons of the leftover oil, sodium alginate, and kala Namak and blend until smooth.
- If your mixture has now gotten too thick, add a little water if needed until you reach your desired consistency.
- Fill into a container and set aside. Carefully bang the container on your kitchen counter a couple of times to remove some of the air bubbles from the mixture. (Put a kitchen towel down to protect your counter and container.)
- Using a measuring spoon to drop your yolk mixture into the calcium bath. Let set for 30-60 seconds, then remove using a slotted spoon and carefully drop into a bowl of clean water to rinse and store until ready to serve.
- Combine all ingredients to form a thin dough, similar to crépe batter.
- Cook in skillet or non-stick pan on medium-high for about 1,5-2 minutes.
- Carefully warm your yolks by putting them in warm water. Be careful not to overheat and pop their skin.
- Lay the yolk on the egg white "crépe" and serve immediately!
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