Avoiding Common Vegetarian Cooking Mistakes

Once again it’s Monday and we at Mobile Cuisine are pleased to provide our readers with another article centered on the idea of providing your customers with at least one menu item for a follower of the Meatless Monday program.

Throughout the past year we have been pleased to find out that a very large percentage of the food trucks in the country have modified their menus to include vegetarian or vegan options for the communities that they serve. We recently receive a couple of questions from a reader on subjects that we felt are common mistakes for those culinary professionals that are not as familiar with a meatless lifestyle as others.

Two Common Vegetarian Cooking Mistakes

In today’s article we will look at the subjects of cross contamination and hidden ingredients.

Beware of Cross Contamination

The first of our common vegetarian cooking mistakes is cross contamination. Most vegetarians are very concerned about cross contamination and will not want to eat food that has, or may have been, in contact with meat. The easiest way to achieve this is to keep vegetarian food, utensils and cooking pots separate from those you use for fish or meat. If you are deep frying, don’t use oil in which you have fried fish or meat products. This will may require a dedicated fryer for these items or even a bit more space in your mobile kitchen, but it is well worth it to know that you are keeping your meatless customers happy.

Hidden Ingredients

The second of our common vegetarian cooking mistakes is hidden ingredients. When cooking for vegetarians you also have to be aware of all the byproducts derived from meat and fish that occur in a wide variety of products. Here we list some of the more common problems that aren’t always obvious.

  • Cheese. Many cheeses have been made using rennet derived from calves’ stomachs, whereas cheese that is suitable for vegetarians is coagulated using fungal or genetically manipulated rennet. You can quite easily source vegetarian versions of the large majority of cheeses. However Parmesan and Gorgonzola are both by statute always made with animal rennet, so you have to look out for similar alternatives, such as the Vegetalia or Twynham Grange brands of Hard Italian Style Cheese to replace Parmesan, or a vegetarian Dolcellatte instead of the Gorgonzola.
  • Baking Goods and Chocolate. Some baked goods, snacks and chocolate may contain whey which has been sourced from cheese made using animal rennet. Manufacturers often change their ingredients so it is worth checking regularly.
  • Margarine. This may contain whey, gelatin or animal carcass fats. There is an increasing number of vegetable based margarines which are suitable for baking and do not contain hydrogenated fats.
  • Condiments. Many brands of Worcester Sauce and some tapenades and other flavorings contain anchovies so check with your supplier if you plan to use these items for your vegetarian customers.
  • Alcohol. Finally, be careful when cooking with alcoholic beverages such as wine, sherry, port or cider since they may have been refined using non-vegetarian products such as gelatin or egg albumen (this would be unacceptable in a dish served to vegans). Many organic and/or New World wines are now vegetarian, but it is wise to check with your supplier before purchasing.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any additional tips common vegetarian cooking mistakes feel free to jot them down in the comment section below.

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2017-03-31T08:42:48+00:00 By |Culinary Lessons|

About the Author:

Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.

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