by Josh Evans
4 October 2012—the day before Ben and I departed on a research trip to the Netherlands, we took a bunch of kojis we had made from different nuts, seeds, and grains, cooked up a bunch of pulses, raided our dry store for aromatic things, boiled a big pot of brine and bashed together a bunch of sauces to start fermenting. The method was deliberate madness, mixing and matching kojis, cooked pulses, aromatics and brine in ratios that seemed to work based on similar previous trials and tasting as we went. Textbook shotgun approach.
Three months later, in January, we had a tasting.
Of the twelve trials, we kept seven that had further potential and tossed five that were horrid. One of the former was particularly exciting—it was unmistakably reminiscent of foie gras, with that fatty, nutty taste and rich mouthfeel, and made only of plant-based ingredients. We called it 'faux foie'.
Original faux foie
500g koji (quinoa)
250g koji (4 parts nøgen byg 43: 1 sunflower seeds)
750g cooked butterbeans
30g dry morels
500g bean stock
1L 20+% brine (6.2% salt in total mixture)
Combine in a sterilised container. Cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap and store for three months.
Since then, we tried to take the recipe further by tweaking the quantity of morels and trying out different types of barley for the koji, but we weren't able to achieve the results we were looking for.
We went back to try to replicate the original recipe, even using the remaining amount of the original batch to inoculate the new trials, and still weren't able to reproduce it exactly. Such is the nature of serendipitous success I suppose. We will keep trying.