A few months ago I was making a Thai dressing for a salad, the only thing I could manage to eat when drowning in my own sweat during Maltese summer. I was using coconut milk and figured I’ld boost the umami content of the dressing with a good glug of soy sauce. Big mistake. It tasted… cheesy?! It completely freaked me out because how the hell does coconut milk + soy sauce = cheese? Also, that was definitely not what I was going for and it ruined my dressing. Fast forward a few months and I have been reading a lot about how to make your own vegan cheese. I absolutely love dairy cheese but I would like to at least eat less of it, plus I like exploring new flavours and ideas. So I thought, why not experiment a little with a vegan cheese sauce based on the horror story from earlier?
This super easy cheese sauce does not require you to buy expensive or hard-to-find nutritional yeast, just like for my other recipes you just need access to a good Asian food store and you’re good to go 😉 It’s also perfect for people who are allergic to tree nuts because it is not based on cashews but on coconut milk, to which most people are not allergic. It can even be gluten free if you use gluten-free miso paste and soy sauce! If you are an omnivore or vegetarian, please remember that this is not a dairy cheese sauce. It won’t stretch or ‘taste exactly like dairy cheese’ because it simply isn’t. It is however delicious in its own right and combines tangy, salty (!) and umami flavours, a bit like aged cheese. Before taking the pictures I thickened the sauce a little more because I was using it to pour over nacho’s. The consistency of the sauce as described in the recipe however is perfect for a creamy pasta dish.
What is your favorite recipe for cheese sauce?
- 1 tablespoon of white miso paste (if you can find less salt miso paste use it because this sauce is pretty salty)
- 1.5 teaspoon of less salt soy sauce (if you use normal soy sauce it’ll be too salty)
- 1/2 cup of canned full-fat coconut milk, stirred until cream mixed with liquid (you need the fat for texture)
- 1/2 cup of filtered water
- 1/2 teaspoon of white wine vinegar (you could also use normal white vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder (don’t omit, this gives the cheese a hint of tang together with the vinegar)
- 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder (not absolutely necessary but highly recommended!)
- 1 tablespoon of corn starch (to thicken the sauce)
- Optional: a good pinch of turmeric powder (this is for colour only)
- Whisk the miso paste, soy sauce, coconut milk and water together in a small pot and put it on a low heat. Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic and turmeric powder together before adding it to the pot. You do this to prevent lumps in the sauce (experience talking).
- Whisk the sauce until the miso has dissolved and the sauce is warm. Don’t let it boil or simmer! Just some steam coming off of it will do.
- Take some sauce out of the pot and mix it with the corn starch. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Take the pot off the stovetop and whisk the corn starch mixture into the sauce until completely incorporated. Don’t try and mix it while it’s on the stovetop because it will form lumps (experience talking bis).
- Put the pot back on the stovetop and turn the heat up, the sauce needs to be simmering for the corn starch to work. Cook until thickened. The longer you let it cook the better the taste but also the saltier the sauce will be, so be aware of this.
Storage and tip of the day:
I think this sauce should keep about 3-4 days in the fridge. It will thicken up but you can always just stir it and reheat. Add some water if necessary. I haven’t tried putting it in the freezer but I’m pretty sure that would ruin the texture.
When you make a mistake in cooking, there is always something you can learn from it. In this case I’m very happy I made the weirdest salad dressing I’ve every tasted, because it led to this sauce 🙂 Don’t feel discouraged but think about what you can learn from it and keep going.