I honestly couldn’t be more excited to share this Vegan Stretchy Melty Grilled Cheese. It’s easy to make, uses natural ingredients (including one almost magical one!), and the texture is the closest thing to real cheese that I’ve ever tried. If you don’t believe my words, let me convince you with these photos…
I’ve experimented with vegan toasted sandwiches in the past, but hadn’t tried making anything with “cheese”, as I didn’t think anything would measure up to the melty, stretchy phenomenon that is real melted cheese!
I did consider using something like tofu ricotta or cashew cheese, but didn’t like the fact that I knew it wouldn’t melt properly like normal cheese. I have tried various brands of shop-bought vegan cheeses, and although some of them do melt, they’re not stretchy like real cheese, and I personally hate the taste of most of them, and dislike the fact that they’re overly processed and not very healthy.
And so I wanted to create something using entirely natural, neutral-tasting ingredients that I could use as a base for adding more flavours, and of course something that would have that essential melty, stretchy texture.
It seemed impossible at first…then I started thinking about mochi…mochi are Japanese sticky rice cakes, which are made from pounding rice until it becomes sticky and glutinous (don’t worry, despite the name it is still gluten-free). It is sold in many different forms, one of them being in small, hard blocks. When these blocks of mochi are melted, they become incredibly sticky, stretchy and gooey…like real cheese!
And that was when I realised that melted mochi would be my magical secret ingredient – the perfect thing to create a stretchy, melty vegan cheese sauce! You can buy mochi in Asian supermarkets, some local health stores, or online – just make sure you get the hard, firm type that’s sold in blocks. If you’re based in the UK, one example of somewhere you can buy mochi online is the Japan Centre.
One word of caution: melted mochi is extremely sticky, so once you have removed the sauce from the pan, please soak your pan in boiling water immediately – otherwise you’ll have a very tricky washing-up situation on your hands!
But obviously I knew I couldn’t rely on mochi alone…and so I decided to add some boiled potatoes, which also become extra starchy when blended, also contributing to the overall stretch factor of the cheese. Amusingly, the idea to combine mochi with potatoes to create a melty, stretchy vegan cheese came from my Japanese grandmother. She always used to make these things called imomochi, which are these savoury mochi “cakes” made with potatoes – the texture is naturally melty, sticky and stretchy, just like the dairy-free cheese that I was after!
In terms of flavour, you can’t really get any more bland than mochi and potatoes, which means they’re the perfect ingredients for vegan cheese, because they work as a great base for adding other flavours.
Just like with my Vegan Mac and Cheese, I decided to flavour the cheese with miso, which adds an umami-rich, salty, fermented flavour, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and a touch of vinegar for a slightly sour cheddar-like flavour. Incidentally, all of the ingredients I used happen to be oil-free and nut-free too!
I was a bit worried that using potatoes and mochi to make a cheese to go between two slices of bread would mean the whole thing would be far too starchy and heavy, but it surprisingly doesn’t taste overly starchy at all. I think the contrasting textures of the crisp toast and the gooey cheese prevents this. However, if you’d like to make this grilled cheese a little healthier, you can use white beans instead of potatoes – I’ve tested this too and it’s equally delicious, more nutritious and has more protein + fibre too. I’ve included both options in the recipe below.
Obviously as this particular grilled cheese requires cooking potatoes and mochi first and then blending them, it’s a little bit more effort than your classic grilled cheese…but, if you’re dairy-free and missing cheese, you really gotta try it! Also, a big batch keeps well in the fridge for up to a few days – just pop in the microwave or reheat on the stove before using.
I really hope you’ll love this grilled cheese as much as I do! It’s melty, stretchy, sticky, melts in your mouth and is absolutely perfect for sandwiching between slices of warm, crispy toast!
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love to hear how you get on! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag photo #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! I’d really love to hear any feedback – thank you!
- 8 slices of bread (gluten-free if necessary)
- 1 medium to large-sized potato, peeled and diced*
- 70g (2.5oz) mochi (the hard firm mochi sold in blocks)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 heaped teaspoon miso (ensure gluten-free if necessary)**
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon (Dijon) mustard
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- Boil potatoes until soft enough to pierce with a fork
- Drain away most the water (leaving just 100ml/a little less than 1/2 cup) and keep the potatoes in the saucepan
- Place the mochi underneath the potatoes and cook on a low heat for a further 5 minutes or so until mochi has melted and become sticky
- Turn off heat and add nutritional yeast, miso, vinegar, mustard and salt + pepper
- Use either a blender, food processor or hand-held stick blender (this is the easiest option as you can just do it in the same saucepan) and whizz until completely smooth
- Toast your slices of bread and spread a generous amount of the sauce over half of the slices, then sandwich them together***
- Best enjoyed immediately, but leftover cheese keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days - just pop in the microwave or reheat on the stove before using
- One word of caution: melted mochi is extremely sticky, so once you have removed the sauce from the pan, please soak your pan in boiling water immediately - otherwise you'll have a very tricky washing-up situation on your hands!
- *If using white beans instead of potatoes, sub the potatoes with 150g/5oz tinned white beans - make sure they've been drained and rinsed. There's no need to boil them first, so just cook the mochi in 100ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) water for around 5 minutes until soft and melty, then add the white beans and continue to cook for another couple of minutes until heated through
- **If you have trouble getting hold of miso, you can substitute with soy sauce (or tamari), and add extra nutritional yeast and salt if necessary
- ***I was lazy and just toasted my slices of bread and spread the cheese sauce between them, but you can alternatively use a grilled cheese maker or a frying pan