With vegan dishes beginning to feature on many restaurant menus the past few years, we have noticed that vegan desserts are also becoming more popular. Richard Ekkebus, director of culinary operations, food and drink, at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, has created sake lees with raspberry, puffed black Camargue rice and rice milk at Amber.
“I love sake lees, we have used it many times in desserts,” says Ekkebus. “We wanted to create a dessert initially with cherries but ended up using raspberries. Sake is made of rice so to link it back to the rice grain made sense. We explored the textures and created this simple two-ingredient dish that has an interesting complexity in taste and texture. That is the art of doing simple without it being simplistic.”
He makes clever use of creaminess and acidity without using milk, cream or butter. The dessert features a mousse of rice milk and condensed whipped soy milk layered with home-made raspberry jam, topped with puffed black Camargue and jasmine rice, garnished with dots of raspberry gel and liquid nitrogen-frozen raspberry fragments.
It is topped with an ice cream made of sake lees, purée of jasmine rice, rice milk and xantana – replacing egg yolks to create viscosity – topped with dehydrated raspberry purée sheets and raspberry tuile using cornflour. These are two shades of red with very different levels of crispiness and texture.
Meanwhile, at Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, head chef Brandon Tomkinson has several vegan desserts on the menu. The signature pineapple carpaccio with passion fruit and coconut sorbet is a simple dish using the best ingredients. The pineapple is infused with passion fruit, and saffron finished with coconut sorbet and topped with lime zest.
Tomkinson does not believe flavour is compromised when making a dish vegan. “You just need to get the right balance of ingredients to get the desired flavour profile,” he says.
When craving a sweet treat himself, Tomkinson goes for light and fresh, “like the pineapple carpaccio dish,” he says.
Ekkebus agrees. “I go for fresh fruit – at the moment, it’s cherries.”