Visch & Chips – Vegan Fish & Chips: Take Three

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve been thinking the same thing myself, when is this woman going to give up on her quest for a proper vegan fish and chips? The answer is, “Probably a few more times.”

Seriously though, this time my goal wasn’t to make this dish taste anything like vegan fish & chips, but rather the goal was to get that crispy cornmeal crusted crunchiness on the textured vegan protein. So in that regard, I would say that this is a win.

But I must warn you, it ain’t pretty.

For starters, let me explain the reason for the odd spelling. I spent some time living in Germany and there, fish is spelled “f-i-s-c-h” and my concession to that was “v-i-s-c-h” and so there we have it, Visch & Chips.

Okay, now that we have that settled, let’s talk about the simplicity of this easy vegan fish & chips dish.

Vegan Fish & Chips Take Two: His Turn

You all know that I’m not one of those vegans who needs to recreate my meals to taste like the old version that involves suffering. I don’t miss the taste of meat or fish or cheese, but I do enjoy experimenting to see how to make those dishes fit for any kind of vegan.

For this version of #vegan fish & chips though, my husband took his turn at bat. You’ll remember my own F&C recipe, which didn’t turn out so well visually but the taste was delicious…if you love nori which I kind of do not.

As you can see, he took a different route than I did, deciding to wrap the nori around the TVP first and then he added the breading, which included a beer batter! It worked out much better and the added lemon and vinegar really decreased the overpowering taste and smell of nori sheets. Maybe it just worked out better because he doesn’t shy away from frying foods the way I do!

This is the point I wanted to make about experimenting with your old pre-vegan days recipes, you can find something really awesome that isn’t exactly as you remembered, but it is something better. Healthier.

Without the cruelty.

I’ll tell you right up front that if you’re expecting it taste like fish & chips, you will be sorely disappointed. But the flavors added provide a nice brine-y sea flavor, and the beer batter meant I was getting something greasy and friend and delicious. I see no problems with that, do you?

And yeah, okay so the “chips” aren’t technically chips but there’s no fish in this dish either, so who cares? But the potatoes were tossed in about 4 grams of oil and tons of herbs & spices, then baked for about 30 minutes. Crispy and delicious and not nearly as fattening as the version that includes actual fish.

You can’t have vegan fish & chips without some kind of tartar sauce, can you?

Not in my book!

We went to our old favorite, veggiegurt, because that’s what’s available to you as a vegan in the part of Romania where we are…if you have a hate-hate relationship with mayo of all types, which I do. Use whatever vegan yogurt or mayo you prefer, just make sure you read the ingredients and the nutritional information.

For the vegan tartar sauce you will need: yogurt/mayo, dill, lemon, salt, pepper, ground fennel. Stir and then refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. For those of you who love a little bit of heat, I like to add a few drops of hot sauce or Tabasco to the tartar.

You’ll notice the plate is much lighter than it normally looks, but that’s because oil has LOTS of calories and frying anything means you have to make room for that in your diet. We did, but you don’t necessarily have to.

But if you do want to add some extra calories, consider an ice cold beer. Maybe a Jameson on the rocks?

Vegan Fish & Chips…Sort of

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.

Just sayin’…

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.

Poftă bună!!