Move Over Veggie Burgers. Make Room for Faux Fish.

Skip the tofu. Hold the vegan mayo. Faux fish is heading to a plate near you.

If you haven’t heard of it, “faux” fish is a vegetable-based substitute designed to look, feel and even taste like fish without robbing the seas of actual species that are already threatened by overfishing, development, pollution, and climate change.

The concept is being tested by sushi chefs and food manufacturers who have seen the success enjoyed bycompanies that manufacture meat substitutes from soy, various kinds of beans and legumes, and shredded and pureed vegetables. One chef, James Corwell of San Francisco, told a reporter for National Public Radiothat his concern for imperiled species like bluefin tuna inspired him to “create a great sushi experience without the tuna.” His piece de resistance? Tomato sushi. Corwell skins and removes the seeds from fresh Roma tomatoes and cooks them in hot water in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. Corwell then takes the resulting tomato, which has assumed the texture of raw tuna, adds a few secret ingredients, and slices the tomato into sushi-like shapes. Add a dollop of rice and soy sauce flavored with ginger, and voila. Sushi a la faux fish.

The food-meisters at Sophie’s Kitchen are into the faux scene, too. Among their offerings? Vegan calamari, scallops and fish fillets. Given how many “real” fish fillets are actually cobbled together with bits and pieces of fish stuff rather than real fillets, a vegan fillet doesn’t sound so off track. What’s more, Sophie’s 100%plant-based vegan seafood contains no GMO ingredients, cholesterol, or trans fat.

Gardein’s Golden Fishless Filet is made from soy protein concentrate, potato starch, pea protein, carrot fiber, various herbs and spices, some canola oil and sugar, and many other ingredients, none of which contain dairy or are genetically modified.

Is there a downside to fishless fish?

It remains to be seen if the technique Chef Corwell uses – boiling food in a plastic bag – is safe, given that chemicals in plastic have a tendency to leach into food when the plastic gets hot. And highly processed food like fishless filets contain a lot of ingredients that someone might not want in their diet, including wheat gluten, “color added,” and sugar.

But there’s no question that we can’t continue consuming seafood at current rates, or fishing using current practices. Many fisheries are already on the brink of collapse, since they’re being overfished regardless of whether enough animals are being left behind to reproduce and replenish their stocks. Meanwhile, industrial fishing is catching many more species (like sharks, turtles, dolphins, and octopus) than people eat; inevitably, this “by catch” dies and is tossed back into the ocean. It’s a thoughtless and inhumane way to treat wildlife that have plied the seas for eons.

Have you tried fishless fish? What’s your verdict? Tasty, or no?

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88 comments

Carol C
Carol C5 months ago

I'm all for saving the oceans and the fish, but doing myself in by eating plastic- and gluten-infused fauxfood doesn't seem like a good solution.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Angela K.
Angela K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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Julie Cannon
Julie C3 years ago

Interesting.

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Catrin S.

Sigh, how about astronaut food :).

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Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

Interesting article.

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Alexandra G.
Alexandra G3 years ago

great idea, thank you for sharing

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Sounds like "crabsticks" available in Europe already

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Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

Interesting!

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Nicolette Lyons
Nicolette Lyons3 years ago

It's a great idea and I would love to try it. I need to try and find some of the Gardein fish fillets in my supermarket and hope it isn't too expensive.

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