TEST KITCHEN – Chickpeese’

Yes. Another try for a mouldy vegan cheeZe. But something a bit more sustainable than before. I mean I already made some delicious cashew koji cheese before – and lots of tofu experiments by growing mould on it (mao dofu) and macerating/ageing for a good while (dofuru) also curing in miso (misozuke) what did change the texture… i think its very easy to create (vegan) cheeziness using tofu. BUT THEN I ASKED – IS SOY ACTUALLY SUSTAINABLE EVER? Of course not. Anyways – its not the place for this discussion – I love misozuke and friends – but I wanted to find something actually more eco-friendly (and not based on gluten or nuts).

So reading a lot I found an interesting ‘chickpea’ tofu recipe – and I had an idea. Chickpea is a carb and good grain and also potentially can be sourced locally. Jamie – my vegan buddy at work (always very grateful for trials) told me he had little success with this vegan alternative as with time it always went too mushy like a hummus. Well. But what if I can grow some good moulds around which will imitate a ‘camambert effect’ – when protects the block itself and create a possibility of reaching a different texture inside and outside (like a creamy camambert exactly). So I just jumped onnit.

My first attempt started already with a bit of a f*ckup. There are a few different ways you can make chickpea tofu – first I choose the one with real dried chickpeas. I soaked them in water. Ideally I wanted to soak them for a day but I was just too busy so they actually stayed in the water for 3 days (I think) – and of course you can see the foam on top – that the fermentation has started. Then I didn’t wanted to waste that batch of chickpeas – so I quickly juiced it with some water and cooked it out till it thickened.

I DONT KNOW WHY BUT I THOUGHT ITS GONNA BE COOL TO ADD SOME TEXTURES – SO I ADDED A HANDFUL OF OMEGA3 SEED MIX INTO MY COOKED CHICKPEA ‘PANNACOTTA’. Nothing else. Then i poured the mix into a silicon mold and let it set in my fridge.

This is the second f*ckup. I just didn’t come home the next day and also very late the day after. So the tofu was sitting in my fridge for 2 days and it started to release lots of water. Was superwet. I tried to wipe as much as I could – then finally managed to inoculate. It was sitting in my chamber for 4 days – it was very crazy difficult to turning them – the fermentation was on top – the cubes became very soft and almost kindof bubbly. It was a struggle to grow my awamori on every side. I’m telling you – I had some moments when I really wasn’t sure if I ever want to taste that ‘thing’.

But after 4 days was out. Decided to give the last chance. I brined the cubes – 20% for 20 minutes. Then it was brushed with corn whiskey for 3 days while it was drying in the sun (kept turning them of course).

And I tried it. After the 3 days of curing. It was too salty first of all. But is manageable. Then…. it was interesting. I did love the crunch but the cubes shrank quite a lot – very little chickpea ‘cheeze’ left in the middle and very difficult to distinguish at all. BUT IT WAS DEFINITELY THE CHEESIEST TEXTURE I COULD REACH SO FAR.

I had 2 friends who tried it (of course i waited out a safe 48 hours security time-frame after me tried it :P) and they both said the same – very cheese and a bit too salty.

My second attempt was way more thoughtful – at least i thought so but i failed again :) hahaha again a lot of surprises.

I didn’t want to risk the overfermentation again – so i choose the easier way – i bought chickpea flour and mixed it with water and cooked out the tofu again. Of course i was in a hurry to work so i needed to chill the tofu out very quick. BUT I DID NOT ADD ANYTHING TO THIS ONE! Unfortunately, i didn’t find the panna cotta molds so i had to set the tofu in a bigger container so it came out flatter than i wanted to. Anyways. Fridge and hoping it chills fast.

I managed to inoculate before rushing to work – but only the fresh-cut sizes were sticky enough for the spores. GRRRRRRR I was just hoping for a nicely covered layer.

AFTER THE FIRST DAY – i had to face the fact that only the wet sides had been covered properly. So i made an emergency plan – and got some more spores and ‘afterinoculate’ the other sides. Also started some lactofermentation in there which made the sides too wet – i had to uncover the tofus to get them bit more stable and dry.

AFTER THE SECOND DAY – i had to re-do some more clean spots. Of course i was turning the blocks and they were also pretty fragile (my fingers were too brutal tearing some layers off) with plenty of fermentation going on. At this time the chamber was only on 27 degrees – trying to slow things down as possible. HAHAHA LITTLE SUCCESS.

AFTER 4 DAYS OF MOULD GROWING – i turned the prover off and got them into the brine. Down to 15% and 20 minutes. I literally had to wash the tofu with my hand as the spores are very waterproof – luckily by this time the blocks are harder/ drier so easier to handle. The awamori layer is not 100% but more than 90% – which is good enough for me now.

Another 3 days of corn whiskey curing.

VOILA. There she is. Looks alright. It did shrink and dried in the sun nicely. Yes, it is too thin.

Inside… wow. looks very cheese. It is smooth and even.

And the taste? Well…. i am gonna be very honest as always. Boring. Hm. Yes. BOOOOORING!

I keep trying it simultaneously with the first seeded cubes and despite the too much brine – still that one tastes waaaaay more interesting!

But its fine – it’s not the end of the world – mainly because i know i had a different way of fermentation going on. Basically the 3rd generation will start with a 2 days of basic lacto-fermentation on the kitchen counter. Before i do anything else. I have the texture i want to – improving the flavour seems like almost too easy hahahahaha. But we shall see.

First attempt – i smoked it slightly with some ash bark. Stay tuned.

Open up your mouth…!

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