Eatocracy’s 5@5 recently listed a method for making vegan ricotta cheese using molecular gastronomy techniques, which immediately caught my attention for its simplicity, innovation and creativity. One can of coconut milk, a splash of coconut vinegar, a sprinkle of salt and some agar somehow all work together to produce a rich, creamy, mildly crumbly and very versatile dairy-free mozzarella/ricotta. This cheese would make a perfect ravioli filling, pizza topping or lasagna layer, but I decided I would deep fry it to see what would happen. When the coated ricotta hits hot oil it slightly melts, while the shell around it becomes puffy, crispy and airy. When removed from the oil, it still retains its original shape and flavor, and is lovely dunked into a simple marinara sauce.
One can of full-fat, good-quality coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut vinegar
2/3 tsp salt
5 tsp agar flakes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 TB chickpea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 5 TB water
oil for frying
marinara sauce, for serving
Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until well-emulsified. Add in the vinegar, salt and agar and whisk continuously for five minutes. Increase the heat to medium and continue to whisk for five minutes more. By this time, it should be coming to a small boil. Continue to whisk at a small boil for about two minutes more and then remove from the heat. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass pyrex dish, cover with saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight to gel.
Scrape the gelled mixture into a food processor and blend until it resembles a ricotta texture. Roll into golfball sized balls and place back into the refrigerator.
When you are ready to fry, combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, place the Ener-G/water mixture.
Heat plenty of oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Test the oil’s readiness by inserting a wooden spoon into it—if bubbles form around the spoon immediately, you are ready to fry.
Dip the ricotta into the Ener-G mixture, then coat with the flour mixture. Slowly slide it into the oil and fry for about a minute and a half, in batches of two or three pieces. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with the marinara sauce.