"The funny inspiration for this is a McDonald's Egg McMuffin, which I grew up eating, so I do remember taking a bite of that, and the soft, toasted English muffin with that eggy filling. It's delicious." So says Timothy Pakron, the chef, food stylist, and photographer behind Mississippi Vegan. "There's a reason why it's a really popular sandwich."
But the beloved breakfast sandwich not without its flaws. "I feel like people forget any animal product you eat doesn't have any fiber. So that by itself, it's going to be more difficult for the body to digest and process," he explains. Vegan food, however, is all fiber, and Pakron's recipe for this vegan breakfast sandwich, currently on the menu at Urban Vegan Kitchen in the West Village, is all about recreating the flavors and textures of the classic breakfast sandwich—just without animal products.
Pakron was brought into Urban Vegan Kitchen to consult on their menu, which is full of upscale vegan takes on classic comfort food, but this recipe is very much his creation and the result of years of homework. "I've been vegan for ten years, so I've been exploring and playing with textures and flavors ever since I went vegan, because I'm fascinated with ultimately realizing we're craving flavors and and textures," he explains. "So we're not actually craving the actual animal product, we're craving the flavor and texture it brings to the surface."
The vegan aioli emulates the texture of a broken egg yolk, while the crispy tofu round offers the texture of an egg patty. The secret ingredient for this "egg" sandwich is kala namak, a special salt that's sprinkled on the tofu rounds to give them that egg-like flavor. "This salt is also called black sea salt, and it has naturally occurring sulfur," explains Pakron, "so the sulfur is what makes it taste like an egg yolk."
But ultimately, the plant-based ingredients aren't as important as the dish as a whole. "It doesn't matter if it's vegan. It's delicious," says Pakron. "And it happens to be vegan."