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Vegan white sauce?

  • adirao Jun 11, 2007 01:21 AM
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Has anyone tried substituting soymilk and oil for milk and butter in white sauce? How does it come out?

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  1. I haven't tried a bechamel entirely without milk/butter but I did find a recipe that calls for broth in place of the milk. It's no longer a bechamel, but whatever, it tastes good in lasagna, on pasta, etc. You might try replacing the butter with oil, making the roux, then adding in a broth of choice.

    1. It depends on what you're trying to do. I've made tons of roux with flour and oil using either broth or plain water depending on the dish, and they thicken nicely and lend a creamy texture. I have never been impressed taste-wise with soy or rice milk instead of milk or cream; in general I'm not a fan of sustituting for them. I'd rather take advantage of the innate flavor profile of the roux rather then pretend it's dairy. This applies, for me, in general with vegetarian cooking. (My training was with a Japanese chef in a semi-macrobiotic restaurant.)

      1. I'm in agreement with the advice you've been given - use a nice olive oil instead of butter - develop your roux to desired flavor and use a good quality veggie stock. This with produce a fair sauce.

        1. vegan margarine (earth balance) and unsweetened soy milk makes a passable bechamel. Make sure its unsweetened soy with the lowest carb count you can find. I don't eat dairy and make this quite often for lasagna, or as a basis for other kinds of sauce.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Divamac

            Thanks, just wanted to check that chemically the substitution would be okay (the mixture wouldn't curdle or anything like that).
            Anybody also substituted whole wheat flour for all-purpose in the roux? I'm asking because sometimes I have only soymilk, oil, and whole wheat flour in the house when I want to make white sauce.

            1. re: adirao

              You should be able to make a roux with whole wheat flour, but you will need more of it to thicken the sauce (less starch) and you will probably have to cook it at a lower temperature to avoid scorching the bran and germ. If you are concerned about soy milk curdling you might want to consider making a thick vegetable veloute as suggested above (vegetable stock tickened with a roux) and thin it to the desired consistancy off heat with soy milk. That would give you a vegan version of sauce supreme.

              1. re: LabRat

                LabRat makes some excellent points.

                I've used a number of different flours, including whole wheat. Toasting the WW flour first imparts a wonderful nutty taste that's different than making a dark roux with a white flour. And using different oils (the olive oil mentioned by coastie is a good example) will also give the roux different flavors -- using a corn oil with good flavor rather than the usual light stuff also makes a roux that's great. But both these oils impart a lot of flavor, so use them if that's where you want the dish to go. Lighter oils will, well, work more to thicken and less to flavor.

                Keep in mind where the finished product is going. Stronger tastes, such as roasted squash or toasted sesame oil, may hold up well to WW flour. It'll handle the stronger herbs like rosemary, too.

                Simply don't expect the final product to be a "substitution". It is what it is, so take advantage of what it is. (Forgive me if I sound like I'm crusading here...) I'm sure you've heard of people referring to tofu as a "meat substitute", and almost in the same breath denigrating it. IMO, tofu makes lousy meat. Meat makes lousy tofu, too.

                So, using a good soy milk and WW flour may just work exactly like what you are looking for, and may in fact work better than white four and dairy. My advice? Play with it! There's no substitute for trying stuff out.

          2. I've done it many times before using soya milk and soya margarine with good results. The key I find is using a "good" soy milk...by that I mean one that tastes as close to milk as possible after its heated. I find the So Nice brand (refrigerated, original) the best in this regard. Not as easy to find as So Good, but IMO, the latter just doesn't taste right when heated.

            1. Thanks for all the suggestions! They encourage me to experiment...will let you know if I find some other amazing substitution.

              1 Reply
              1. re: adirao

                Have you tried making a "cream" sauce out of almonds, water & oil... I did something like this in a casserole for a vegan customer. It tasted great - and had a similarly satisfying fattiness/creaminess.