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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Vegan seafood: the plant-based fish alternatives leading the way

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Plant-based fish and chips, anyone? It’s a thing now. So is vegan tuna, salmon, and fish fingers, as alt-seafood becomes the next big thing.

“Could I have some okara-tofu crab cakes with the vegan tartare sauce, a smoked carrot salmon bagel, and the plant-based fish burger please?”

The way things are going, that restaurant order won’t be off the menu in a few years, as vegan seafood continues its skyrocketing rise and becomes the next big plant-based “trend” after years of meat and dairy alternatives stealing the headlines.

Here are the leading alternative seafood products you can find in the UK:

Sophie’s Kitchen

Founded by Eugene Wang in California in 2011, Sophie’s Kitchen is one of the world’s most well-known plant-based seafood brands. In 2019, it made its way into the UK by rolling out its vegan shrimp and smoked salmon in Sainsbury’s.

While its catalogue includes vegan shrimp, smoked salmon, crab cakes, fish fillets and tuna, it currently only offers the first two in the UK. Both these products are frozen.

The smoked salmon is made from pea starch potato starch and pea protein, with konjac powder, sea salt, agave, seaweed, fenugreek, alginate, paprika as the flavourings. It pairs incredibly well with vegan cream cheese on a bagel.

The plant-based breaded shrimp is created using brown rice flakes, potato starch and pea starch, with konjac powder, fenugreek, alginate, paprika, sea salt, agave, white pepper and turmeric as seasonings.

Good Catch

 

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Another US-based brand, Good Catch launched in the UK last year. Its founders are brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, who are also the men behind Wicked Kitchen.

The brand specialises in plant-based canned tuna, which it markets as an alternative to premium albacore tuna that resembles its flaky texture. There are three variants available in the UK: Naked in Water, Oil & Herbs and Mediterranean.

Good Catch uses a blend of six plant proteins: pea protein isolate, soy protein concentrate and isolate, chickpea flour, fava protein, lentil protein, and navy bean powder. This is mixed with algal and sunflower oils, citric acid, onion, garlic and seaweed powders, yeast extract, soy lecithin and salt.

The Oil & Herbs blend contains the regular base as well as lemon juice, chives and other spices. The Mediterranean tuna combines the original base with dehydrated red bell peppers, onions and roasted garlic, lemon peel, juice and oil, chilli pepper, tomato concentrate, and spices.

Fry’s

 

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Founded in 1991, the Fry Family Food Company is one the most popular meat-free brands in the UK. Its product line includes plant and plant-based meat burgers, sausages, schnitzels, chicken nuggets, strips, mince, sausage rolls, pies and seafood.

The plant-based fish category has two frozen products: battered prawn pieces and golden crispy fish fillets. The tempura batter for both seafood alternatives is made from rice flour, wheat flour, potato starch, maize flour and rising agents.

The vegan fish fillets are made using a blend of soy and wheat protein, wheat and pea fibres, wheat flour, flax oil, smoke, garlic and other flavourings, as well as thickeners and emulsifiers.

The prawn pieces contain the soy and wheat protein blend, pea fibre, onion, garlic, lemon zest, seaweed (nori), pepper, with other flavourings and additives.

Quorn

 

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Quorn is one of the biggest meatless brands in the world and its success speaks for itself. With a giant portfolio of vegan and vegetarian alternatives to meat, it can be overwhelming to find what you’re looking for.

Quorn has four offerings in the fishless category. The Battered Fishless Fillets is an alternative to a British classic: fish and chips. It has a salt and vinegar batter, another ode to traditional British flavours. Made from mycoprotein and a blend of flours and flavourings, these frozen fillets have crispy batter and can be cooked in the oven in under 25 minutes.

The Breaded Fishless Fillets are coated with lemon and pepper breadcrumbs and make for a wonderful meal with some potato wedges and minted peas. These are also frozen and can be cooked within 25 minutes in the oven.

Quorn also offers Fishless Fingers — a global favourite. These are low saturated fats and can be oven-cooked in 15 minutes or cooked on a grill in 10. It also has a lobster alternative with its Fishless Scampi, which is great with a side of chips and peas. This can be cooked within 15 minutes in the oven.

VBites

 

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Launched in 1993, VBites is another leading plant-based protein manufacturer. It offers alternatives to meat, dairy and cheese. Its plant-based fish line is massive, with six different products.

The vegan fish fingers are coated in crispy breadcrumbs and made from soy protein. The smoked salmon is also made from soy protein and is merchandised in the chilled section. There’s also a vegan tuna pate, which is made from wheat gluten and soy protein.

VBites’s range extends to plant-based fish cakes made from soy protein and potato flakes. The vegan fish steaks are a tribute to fish and chip shops, with ingredients including konjac flour, tapioca starch and wheat starch. Like Quorn, it offers scampi-style bites with a lemon and black pepper coating too.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.

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