Kingland ‘Soy Cream Cheese’

Sealed in a foil lid (comes with a plastic lid for storing too).

A tub of vegan soy-based soft cream cheese

Pros: Australian-made, cheap compared to similar products, creamy texture, versatile, available in supermarkets

Cons: Not keen on the taste, quite high in fat

I bought a tub of this from the Coles Central (corner of Melbourne’s Elizabeth Street and Flinders Street) but had tried it a long time previously and disliked it, so was understandably nervous to open it up and eat it again. Kingland is a Queensland-based company, and they produce a wide range of soy alternatives to food, which is great to see, particularly in the mainstream shops.

Due to my previous dislike of the product it remained unopened in my fridge for a few weeks and I’d noted that it goes past its date in September so had been hurrying myself to review it. As much as I already knew I wasn’t a fan, I also detest food waste and so was determined to at least cook with it and see if there’s some way I could use it.

Opening it up, it doesn’t really have a hugely distinctive smell, and is the smooth white you’d expect from other cream cheeses, such as Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese that I’m such a fan of. It doesn’t separate and when spooned out looks like a pretty good cream cheese replacement, although of a slightly off-white colour unlike Tofutti’s very bright white.

Perhaps I was being a little harsh on the cheese, afterall, I was thinking.

Sadly, the flavour got to me even while the smooth texture was appreciated. It’s slightly sweet and slightly musty, and doesn’t do it for my palate. I think it’s the after taste that bothers me so much.

The whole tub emptied out into a container.

I understand it’s made from soy, I really do, but it tastes so much like soy beans and not like cream cheese that I couldn’t bear to eat it off the spoon after my first tentative bite. My wife didn’t see this as such a big deal, and thought that in small amounts on crackers it was ok. I remember that when I was living at home, and my parents would buy it, I’d eat it in sandwiches with something strong like chutney or mustard as I was mainly eating it for the creamy texture and because I wasn’t aware that there were any other options then (this was in 2005). I’d probably still have it the same if I didn’t have other options – perhaps cooked into a béchamel or into a linguine for the texture.

However, linguine wasn’t on the menu and I had to make some quick decisions about what to do with it. I decided that, given its strong taste, it wouldn’t work in a straight sour cream, so I made a version of a tzatziki using what was available in the fridge. Sadly, we didn’t have any cucumber (not really a vegetable we eat outside of sushi in our house), but I had some other ingredients that I figured could work in a quick version of the dish. I also decided to do this dip as I was having my friend Christina over for a lunch/dinner and was making Lebanese food. I’d bought tahini and garlic dip, and had made hummus, and hadn’t found a suitable tzatziki replacement. In Lebanese cuisine, it appears it’s more often called a cucumber laban, with tzatziki perhaps being the Greek or Turkish version, but I quite like the name so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Two minute tzatziki

One tub of Kingland soy cream cheese

One garlic shoot (very finely chopped)

Salt

Pepper

Half a lemon’s juice

Soy milk (quick splash)

Optional: Finely chopped mint

I mixed all of the above together with a fork as best possible and then put into a dish to serve. Very straightforward and simple, I didn’t want to blend anything as I wanted to get the chunks of garlic shoot throughout.

I left the mint out, as with mint it reminds me too much of the Indian mint sauce dish, which is lovely but not the intended effect. Parsley and other herbs can also be used, but I didn’t have anything appropriate on hand, so I was left with quite a simple version. I did put a bit of coriander on top for the colour.

It still had that icky soy taste from the cheese, but with the other flavours in the dip and mixed into the wraps it was actually quite tolerable and I didn’t mind scooping it onto the food. It does go some way to melting as a cream cheese should – becoming much softer in a warm wrap.

It went beautifully with my homemade falafels, which were my pride and joy for the day. I decided to make them from scratch as I’m personally not a huge fan of store packaged falafel mixes and I find the pre-made ones ridiculously expensive (some of them span up to $8 for a bag of about 10 small falagels, ridiculous!). My recipe used ingredients I already had in the house – we basically stockpile dried legumes at a rate that suggests we’re going into nuclear war – and made around 45 small falafels.

I was somewhat inspired by my soon-to-be brother in law’s Mum’s cooking when we went over to her place. She served these incredible chickpea balls that you cook in oil on the table in a fondue-style, and I really wanted to make something similar. We’d also just bought the little mini sieves (which we call golden retrievers) for our new steam boat, so I was looking forward to trying some deep frying of my own, even while we couldn’t really do the same sort of fondue.

Falafel balls

One cup dried green lentils

Half a cup dried red lentils

Half a cup dried green split peas

Salt

Pepper

Coriander (handful, fresh, finely chopped)

Mixed dried herbs

Cumin (one teaspoon)

Splash of soy sauce

Olive oil (to spray)

Rice bran oil (to fry)

Chickpeas (one tin, drained)

Kidney beans (one tin, drained)

Chickpea flour (two cups)

Firstly, get your dried lentils and split peas, along with the coriander, soy sauce, salt, pepper, cumin and mixed herbs. Cover with water and leave in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.

Rinse the mixture, and then put in a pot with one cup of water, more mixed herbs, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Add the chickpeas and kidney beans and simmer for five minutes or until much of the liquid has been absorbed.

Take off the heat, and allow to cool.

Get a stick blender and very roughly blend the mixture. You don’t want to make it a fine paste necessarily (part of the joy with these falafels is biting them open and seeing whole beans inside) so just do so enough to make it a mixture rather than individual beans.

Get your chickpea flour and add until the mixture becomes fairly stiff. You may need more than I have stated. I kept mixing it in until I could roll them into balls without having a sticky mess all over my hands.

I rolled them into little balls (about the size of a 50 cent piece in diameter) and put them on a piece of baking paper (spray it with olive oil first). I made about two lots in total – I was going to save half the mixture for later cooking, but ended up doing all of them.

I then allowed them to set in shape for about 20 minutes, before putting rice bran oil into a pan. If you have a deep fryer then this is the best option. As we do not, I used a deep frying pan, and held it on an angle to fry about five at a time until they were golden brown.

They should be quite noticeably darker than the initial mixture. I put a cooked one next to the raw ones to show you what I mean.

Drain them on kitchen towel before putting them together in a bowl to salt and pepper, and then serve.

This serves five to six with accompanying food. They can be cooked in the oven, but the flavour wouldn’t be as great.

I recommend adding some garlic, chili and perhaps some parsley to yours for some added flavour. I kept mine quite plain, but I still loved how they came out. I do recommend keeping the chickpea flour, although any flour would work, particularly if you’re using other beans. If you use other flour then you may end up with something more like a bean ball than a falafel.

This is what they look like cut in half. I love the colours.

With the creamy tzatziki, the crunchy falafels were so good. I served the two dishes, hummus, tahini and garlic dip, with a homemade moussaka-style tomato eggplant dish, roasted cauliflower (with cumin, caraway seeds and turmeric), yellow rice, fresh vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onion, corn, slices of lemon), dolmades (from the Victoria Markets) and Lebanese bread (I also oven-baked some of the leftover Lebanese bread, cut into circles, so it could be used as dippers in the hummus).

I also had some sliced fresh red chilis, chopped pickled jalapenos and Sicilian olives to top the dish off, and a bowl of bio cheese (I picked up 500 grams for $30.99 a kilo from the markets as well) and piquant No-Moo Vegusto cheese (because who would want a wrap without cheese?). Add hot sauce, mustard and other condiments and you’re good to go.

The food fed the four of us at the time with a ridiculous amount of leftovers, which fed us for lunch and dinner the next few days. The tzatziki cream cheese creation lasted out quite well for the few days, and the taste actually got better as the garlic shoots infused with it.

The price

It set me back around $5, which is ridiculously cheap when looking at vegan cheese replacements, so I was pretty impressed. Each tub is 250 grams, or 25 portions per tub (10 grams each). I’d say this is very reasonable, and looking at the price if I was going to cook something slightly creamy for the texture and I was in need of a cream cheese… I’d definitely be considering the cost saving on this one. If, however, it’s for a cream cheese flavour I think I’d opt for Tofutti, which is also competitive in price.

The ingredients

Soy beans, canola oil, sea salt, vegetable gums (410, 407), acid (lactic acid)

It’s 100% nut free and from a nut free factory. The lactic acid is vegan and from a plant source.

The nutritional value

It’s organic, 100% non-GMO and gluten free. The label does reveal that it has 29.7% fat, but it is low sugar, low cholesterol and is fairly high in protein given the soy bean content.

I don’t see it around all that often, although I see Kingland’s hummus, soy mayonnaise and yoghurts quite regularly in the shops. It is available from Green Edge Online (Brisbane based shop) and can be delivered, as is their hard cheddar cheese and a number of their other products (including plain yoghurt, which I’d be interested to try instead in the tzatziki as it would mean no soy milk needed to be added).

They also supply to New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

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