wtf wednesday: breaded “shrimp”

See, I can do theme days too! I bring you WTF Wednesday, where I feature a vegan food item that I assume will be disgusting. Because of my low tolerance for gross, I will have Tom give it a try too (as long as it’s nut-free).

Why not start with vegan seafood? It’s one of the last things people give up when they’re weaning themselves off the meat. Some of it has very little flavor, and it’s super versatile. But how do you emulate it—and more to the point, why do you need to? If you’re looking for a plain piece of white stuff to bread/grill/fry/whathaveya, tofu seems the obvious choice. So why are there so many vegan fishy things out there?

I picked up Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Shrimp, in the Food Fight! freezer. They ran $5.60 for 8.8 ounces—I have no idea how much the kind from the ocean costs—but I’m thinkin’ we’re paying novelty prices here. The key ingredient in these is konjac powder. Per the Sophie’s package, “It is also known as Konnyaku or Elephant Yam. Konjac powder is often used as a vegan substitute for gelatin in East Asia. It has almost no calories and is very high in fiber.” It also has almost no protein, by the way.

So it’s a little weird but totally doable. I super loved shrimp as a kid, and it was the last seafood I could stomach—which is a mystery to me, given that they’re aquatic insects—so I remember the sensation of eating shrimp rather well. This has that same texture, the same bite. The inside is perfectly uniform and white, and not as squishy as I’d feared. The seaweed flavor is subtle, and the white pepper in the breading helps. A bit of salt and a dip in some lemon juice (Tom went for grapefruit-n-habanero hot sauce) was all it needed.

I don’t know if I’d buy them again just for us, but I’d do it to make other people try them. And some friends of ours had bought the unbreaded ones for kabobs…I’d be into that.

(In case you were curious, that crazy-lookin’ thing on the plate is a biscuit packed with parsley, garlic, and cheddar Daiya. Word.)

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