Learning by cooking

I believe cooking from a recipe is a horrible experience: On a busy weekday to scroll through some bloggers’ life story and then cook while following the recipe step-by-step meticulously with a fear of failure. So, I started Plant Jammer to create a better experience for learning new plant-based recipes.

I assembled a team of 20 people and for the past 6 years we’ve digitally served and received feedback from more than 45 million plantbased meals to 1.2 million people, we’ve talked to hundreds of professional chefs, and used artificial intelligence to crunch the numbers behind 1.4 million successful plant-based recipes. As a result, we found one basic formula that can enable anyone to cook tasty and satisfying plantbased meals… without following recipes. This post shares this formula, as brief as possible.

The basic formula behind any tasty plant-based recipe: When cooking plantbased, you shouldn’t copy the look or feel of animal products… plants have their own strengths… However, you SHOULD copy animal products’ balance between umami-sweet-sour-salt and fat/oil.

How to do that? At Plant Jammer we developed the ‘Tastewheel’ to make that easier:

The ingredients in each grouping of the Tastewheel is different for different types of recipes, but the groupings stay the same. That’s the formula.

Personally, I use the Tastewheel like this: I pick 1-3 ingredients from each group, and add salt and oil. That’s it.

With the tastewheel, I only cook with a new recipes with one simple purpose: To learn one or two new methods for applying the tastewheel to a new dish type. Once I’ve learnt that principle, I set the recipe aside and with the Tastewheel I’m now able to cook 1000’s of variations of the recipe. Here is a plant-based examples of how to apply it:

Beluga Bolognese example:

Ingredients: Beluga beans/carrots for base, garlic/thyme/bay leaf for aroma, tomato paste/stock for umami, onion for sweet, red wine for sour, almonds on top.

Method: Fry spices, carrots, and onions in oil, add the wine with tomato paste and stock and let alcohol steam off. Then add and boil beluga leans. Serve with pasta

How to learn the Tastewheel with an app.

In each recipe in the Plant Jammer app, we add a short one-liner that describes the basic method behind a recipe, so you won’t have to follow it step by step. Also, the app automatically runs through the Tastewheel to propose a recipe, and then you as a user can substitute ingredients for another one that plays the same role in the Tastewheel. Download our app, and pick the ‘plant-based’ theme. It’s free!

How to learn the Tastewheel in this newsletter

I will write weekly on this newsletter, sharing my successes and failures with learning new dishes and using the Tastewheel to generalize them, so I increase my own personal repertoire of plantbased dishes. Sometimes I burn the dishes, sometimes the texture goes wrong, but most of the time it’ll be great!

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