Tuesday, January 25, 2011

something fishy

It's been almost 7 years now since the last time I ate meat, and in that time I've found lots of pre-packaged foods that mimic the taste and texture of my old carnivorous favorites. Gardein chicken is so much like the real thing it's kind of scary, and I swear the 1/4 pound flame grilled Gardenburger is 200 times better than beef ever was. But the one thing that I've had trouble finding is fake fish. For a while there was a brand called Worthington's which made 'fish fillets' that were totally out of this world, but they were discontinued about three years ago.

Enter Vegan Comfort Food -- the best cookbook I've purchased in my entire life. Not only does it contain scrumptious veggie and faux-chicken dishes, but ... drum roll please ... there are recipes for fake fish. The faux tuna is out of this world! Using just tempeh, kelp powder and vegan mayo (I use the real thing since I'm just vegetarian, not vegan*) you can easily replicate the taste and texture of real tuna. I like to eat mine on ritz crackers with bread and butter pickles on top.

But by far the best recipe I've tried so far is the faux fish fillet. This was my first attempt to cook tofu (yup, 7 years as a vegetarian and I only tried the skin colored gelatin-like brick for the first time this week. I think my description pretty much explains why I waited this long.) and I'm surprised at how great it came out! The recipe called for cutting the giant cube into four big pieces, but I thought it would get crispier if I cut it into thin strips, and that definitely helped. Even if you do eat meat, this is a fantastic recipe and I highly recommend it! If you're game, here you go:

approx. 1/4 lb extra firm tofu
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup panko flakes
2 tbsp kelp powder
1 cup water
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika

First press some of the liquid out of the tofu, and then cut into thin slices. Mine were about 1/4" - 1/2" thick. Marinate in 1 cup of water mixed with 1 tbsp of kelp powder for 10 minutes. While that's marinating, mix the cornmeal, panko, 1 tbsp kelp, garlic, salt and paprika. Right before the tofu is ready, add a shallow layer of olive oil to the frying pan and put it on low heat. Then coat the tofu in the cornmeal mixture and fry. Mine were done when they looked golden brown. I ate mine with ketchup, which is how I always used to eat fish, but I'm sure it would be great with tartar sauce or whatever you eat your fish with! :)

*My mom nearly killed me when I stopped eating meat, so I'm waiting until I'm living on my own before I cut out all meat products entirely. The fact that I'll still eat her dishes with eggs and milk has kept her from going insane, for now.