I know I’ve said a thousand times that I am not one of those vegans who needs to eat meat alternatives that taste just like the original. Sometimes it is super off putting, and the further my body and my tastebuds get away from my life as a consumer of animal products, the less I need that sameness.
But this is 2020 and we are all out here trying to live our best lives and be better humans, better stewards of the environment and all that, and to that end I decided to give vegan fish a try, to see what the fuss was all about. I approached this like I do all things, with a ridiculous amount of research to see what other vegan home cooks were doing to create that fishy flavor.
I started with an idea: nori sheets, caper brine and lemon juice. I figured that would give me the sea saltiness without that gross fish smell.
She was so hopeful in the beginning…
This is one of those vegan recipes that dos require some prep work so if you’re adverse to spending a little time in the kitchen, this isn’t the recipe for you. Though I will point out that most of the world is at home in search of things to do and this is something you can do while blasting your favorite tunes or listening to your favorite YouTube video.
So like I was saying, prep work. First you’ll need nori sheets. These are just seaweed sheets but some can be “fish flavored” and therefore contain mollusks or shells so make sure you read those ingredients before tossing it into your shopping cart. The sheets have to be cut so they line up to whatever vegan protein you intend to use. I used the extra large soya pieces, hydrated and squeezed as dry as I could get them, because there was a run on tofu at the market last week…strange when all the other vegan products were available…
But, I digress. So I used soya and the hardest part was getting the nori to stick to the protein. I put the shiny side onto the soya and it was hit or miss whether or not they stuck, so if anyone has tips I am all ears.
At this stage everything was fine. I soaked the soya in lemon juice, caper brine, hot sauce and lime juice before sticking the nori onto it. Now it was time to fry it and if you know me and where I am on my weight loss journey, then you already know I did not deep fry these, instead I pan fried them. It worked…mostly.
Two or three of the nori sheets ended up sticking to the pan, even through the light breading I used but it didn’t matter because they didn’t taste anything like fish. The taste was more like chicken fried steak without all the dryness, but definitely not fish. Even the nori was overshadowed by the seasoning, so the meal was good but NOT fish & chips.
The potatoes were hand cut and tossed in about 8 grams of oil and herbs & spices before I baked them for 35 minutes in the oven.
It was an interesting experiment, going through all the effort just to make a protein taste like fish, but it was a failure in my opinion. The meal was tasty and nutritious but it tasted more like vegan chicken & chips, which is also delicious.
Not worth the effort in my opinion unless you really miss eating fish. But I recommend soaking the pieces for longer in the brine mixture and maybe adding something stronger or more pungent, if you require that fishy taste.
And if you’re feeling extra creative, whip up your own dipping sauces! One was mustard and vinegar based and the other was ketchup based.
Some of my favorite add ins include: scallions, ginger, garlic, hot sauce, cumin, cayenne pepper and smoky paprika. Try out different mixes to see which you like.
I don’t regret the effort or the experience because now I know that I definitely don’t like it and won’t be doing it again…but the Hubs is so intrigued that I have a feeling he’ll be testing out other vegan fish methods very soon.