Nathaniel and and I have been vegan for almost four years, and while we don’t find ourselves missing meat or dairy, we really miss the taste of fish. So this week we decided to try out some of the vegan fish alternatives on the market to see if we could find something that comes close to the real thing. While vegan beef and sausage seem to be fairly well established and readily available where we live, vegan fish products are few and far between. For this little taste test we chose five different types of fish from four different brands. We purchased all products at the Veganz store in Berlin.
Shrimp – Mystery Brand
Well we were excited to kick off the fish tasting with vegan shrimp product, which is made of primarily konjac powder. There weren’t any cooking instructions on this bag of frozen mystery meat, so I simply ran them under running water to defrost them and then sautéed them for a few minutes in our cast iron pan with a little bit of olive oil.
So… how did it taste?
Not great, in my opinion. But let’s start with the positives. Nathaniel and I agreed that the texture mimicked that of real shrimp fairly well. I had worried that they would have a jelly like consistency, but the shrimp were actually very firm. However, the taste was a different story. Unfortunately, they just didn’t taste like anything, except greasy hunks of tasteless nothingness. Konjac makes fresh, unflavored tofu look like a taste sensation by comparison. Nathaniel agreed with me on the taste front, saying they could do with a kick of umami, but he ultimately enjoyed eating them. While I couldn’t stomach more than a single bite, he finished off the whole plate. He says further experimentation is needed before we write off the shrimp entirely and said he’d like to try breading them in future.
Final Score: ★
Sea Style Slices – Veganz
We weren’t quite sure what to expect from this ambiguously named fish product. Although I’ve never tried any of their fish, I do know and love the Veganz brand, so my expectations were a little higher here. I followed the directions on the box and fried these “slices” for about 4 minutes on medium heat in my cast iron pan.
Sketchy names aside, these slices did not disappoint and made me hopeful about the future of vegan fish. Although the packaging is decisively fish breed agnostic, we would say these taste most like a cross between cod and processed fish stick meat. The most impressive aspect of this fish was the texture. The fish is juicy, fatty, and flaky — exactly what I would want from a fish steak.
Final Score: ★★★★
Vegane Fischstäbchen – ProLaTerre
I had high hopes for these soy-based fish sticks (or fish fingers, as Nathaniel calls them). Generally I find that highly processed mock meats tend to be more convincing when they are mimicking processed meats, like sausages, because they can get away with tasting a little more fake and a little less naturally occurring.
So I fried them up in a little oil and we got to tasting.
These fish sticks were a major disappointment, even with its breaded exterior, which did hide a multitude of sins. The crispy outsides tasted fine, but the fishy inside part lacked any semblance of the flaky texture that I expect from fish. Instead, we were treated to a gummy mush that had just sort of been formed into a rectangular shape. The flavor was okay, but the texture was unforgivable and these would have been inedible had it not been for the bread crumbs.
Final Score: ★★
Tofu-Frischfilet – Lord of Tofu
As a vegan I do occasionally miss fish and the fish I miss most is salmon. These salmon filets intrigued me because they are made from tofu and kombucha. But how did they stack up?
On the flakiness meter, this salmon ranks somewhere in between the flaky, juicy “Sea Style Slices” and the mushy goop of the fish sticks. The flavor is fine, the texture is okay, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this again. Apart from a vaguely salmon-y taste and the crispy exterior, there just isn’t much to enjoy here.
Final Score: ★★★
Tofu-Thuna – Lord of Tofu
This is the only fish product we didn’t need to cook, so we popped it onto a plate and got to tasting.
I assume that this pink lump is meant to imitate canned tuna, but as you can see in the photo, it has a very dense, even texture that does not in any way resemble that of tuna. However, I did quite enjoy eating this thing. I think it’s more enjoyable if you approach it as a paté instead of tuna. It tastes a little bit like canned tuna, but it is certainly not fooling anyone. I do think this would go great on bread though.
Final Score: ★★★
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with our foray into vegan fish alternatives. The only product I can really recommend are the Veganz Sea Style Slices. These tasted great and delivered in terms of fishy taste and flavor. I also enjoyed the Lord of Tofu vegan Tuna, but it doesn’t really resemble tofu in a satisfying way. I hope vegan fish will improve and I’d be happy to try more in the future. Please tell us if you have tried any vegan fish and how you liked it and let us know if there are any other products you would like us to try!