First of all: why a vegan fried egg?
It’s a hugely iconic image: a yellow circle within a white circle. It’s visually grabbing and central to many traditional recipes like the Indonesian dish Nasi Goreng and the decadent English breakfast (pictured)! Of course, vegans don’t see animal products as ‘food’.. so why make food that looks like an egg? Well, for many reasons.
Most significantly, humans are creatures of habit. Instead of asking people to completely abandon their food habits, we can, by mimicking animal products, offer ALL of the flavor with NONE of the suffering and climate devastation.
It doesn't need to be the EXACT same flavor, as long as it’s got great texture, aroma, visual appeal and of course, tastes good anyway – that’s what food is all about.
No molecular gastronomy 👨🔬
Molecular gastronomy is a great way to elevate vegan food options, but not everyone wants to order special ingredients online and faff around in the kitchen just to create something that can traditionally be achieved as easily as breaking an egg over a pan.
Jonathan Beaton has created something that looks just as appealing but can be made quickly with just a few ingredients you can pick up from your local health food store or Asian supermarket. You will need certain tools to make this recipe, however. See the list of requirements below!
The secret to a vegan fried egg!
Instead of forming a membrane through a chemical reaction, like in spherification, the tapioca starch in this recipe forms a ‘skin’ in reaction to heat, in a similar way to hot chocolate or soup. Let’s call this the ‘tapi-yolk-a’ method, if the pun is not too groan-inducing. Here's how to put the whole thing together!
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 1 batch of vegan yolk sauce, we won’t use all of it
- 3 tsp tapioca starch
- + veg or olive oil for greasing only, see recipe
Vegan Egg White
- ⅓ cup soy cream, such as Alpro (not the light version)
- 2 tsp neutral-tasting veg oil, such as groundnut oil
- ¼ cup water, cold or room temperature
- ¼ cup + 2 tsp corn starch, AKA corn flour in the UK
- 2 tsp tapioca starch, AKA tapioca flour
- + veg or olive oil for frying only, see recipe
Recipe: Vegan fried eggs 🍳 ‘tapi-yolk-a’ method
The process is simple enough: mix ingredients for yolk; steam the mixture briefly in the mould; whisk ingredients for white; fry the white and add the yolk. However, I’ve described it in great detail to avoid confusion or disappointment!
Prep time 20-30 mins, cooking time 2-5 mins. Makes enough for six vegan fried eggs, with yolk sauce left over for dipping or more vegan fried eggs.
All measurements are level, using standardised measuring spoons and cups. Be precise!
- A silicone semi-sphere mould (like this) with 6 or more tablespoon-sized semi-spheres (4cm diameter). Can be made without if you don’t care about the shape of the yolk, see notes below for more info.
- A steamer insert (this kinda thing), ideally; other steaming devices may be trickier to use for this. Should be large enough to place the mould in.
- Standardised measuring spoons and cups (like these)
- Non-stick frying pan
Prepare the yolks:
1. Grease a flat, smooth plate with vegetable or olive oil (approx. 1 tablespoon). This is where you will carefully deposit the prepared yolks so that they don't break. Set aside.
2. Make a batch of vegan yolk sauce following this quick and simple recipe.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 4 level tablespoons of the sauce with 3 level teaspoons of tapioca flour until no lumps remain.
Fill 6 holes in your mould almost all the way to the top using 2 teaspoons of mixture per yolk. Place the mould into your steamer insert and set aside for now. We have to get the pot fully steaming before adding the insert.
4. Add approx. two cups of water to the pot you’ll use for steaming. Bring the water to the boil.
Once the steam is billowing at full strength, add your steamer insert and place the lid on top. Wait exactly 1½ minutes before removing the steamer tray from the heat. Remove the lid and allow the steam to disperse fully.
Please be careful not to burn yourself 🙈
5. When the mould is cool enough to touch, lay your greased plate upside-down over the mould and gently flip the plate back over, supporting the entire mould with your hand (but not squishing it).
If all has gone well, the yolks will have popped out on their own. Otherwise, gently flex the mould from one side to the other to release the fragile yolks.
6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white ingredients until no lumps remain.
Swirl the mixture around in the bowl to remove any small foamy bubbles. (If you let the mixture sit a while, the bubbles will disperse completely, but this isn’t a must.)
7. Pre-heat your non-stick frying pan to a medium-high heat and then add 2 tbsp of white mixture per egg. Don’t add any oil to the pan until the egg has started to cloud over and firm up around the edges. Then you can add a glug of oil to the pan and move the egg around so that the oil can get under it and crisp it up.
Starting to see some colour underneath? Using a spatula, carefully scoop up a yolk and deposit it in the middle of your white. Bear in mind that the yolk will get less runny the longer it’s heated.
When the white is golden brown underneath it’s ready to serve. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and optionally some chili flakes or fresh herbs.
- Suitable silicone moulds can be found at baking / kitchen supply stores, or online. I got a large one and cut it in half so it would fit my pot. 😂
- When purchasing your mould, be aware that if the holes are too small (i.e. less than 4cm diameter), you won’t get a (properly) runny yolk.
- If you’re not particularly fussed about having a perfect vegan yolk dome and membrane, you can just blob a tablespoon of the vegan yolk sauce (without the added tapioca starch) on top of your cooked vegan egg white.
- Keep the remaining yolk sauce to make more eggs, or use it as a dressing or dipping sauce.
- It’s possible to prepare a jar of white mix and a plate of yolks ahead of time (e.g the day before) and then prepare your fried egg really quickly in the morning.