I’ve never tasted scallops. I’ve tasted prawns. I wasn’t that into them. But when I saw this new ‘seafood’ product being demonstrated in my local organic store, in San Francisco, in my efforts to review foods for your transition or already plant based diet, I wandered over to where all these delicious smells were emanating and grabbed some samples to taste. Calamari. Scallops. Crab Cakes and Fish Cakes. Frying on a griddle and partnered with Vegenaise Tartar Sauce. I tried. I tasted. I was hooked. I had to tell you about them and not just because of their flavour. Here’s why…
According to a shocking study by the American Academy of Paediatrics 1 in 12 children have a food allergy. It was a severe allergy to seafood sparked one young girl’s father, Eugene Wang to create an alternative. Wang had a 20 year history in the food industry. He also had an increasing awareness to the reported dwindling numbers of sea creatures from over dredging of our oceans, not to mention increasing levels of pollutants. At the same time, he also was noticing the trend towards the vegan lifestyle. So he took his Taiwanese knowledge of ingredients and concocted an alternative using Konjac (pronounced ‘kon-jack’) , a mineral rich seaweed, widely used in Asia. His company, based in Sebastopol and founded in 2011 and Sophie’s Kitchen (named after his daughter), now produces 7 faux seafood products.
100% vegan & plant based
No cholesterol, trans fat or preservatives
Located the frozen section. Sophie’s Kitchen products include – Prawn, fish fillet, calamari, shrimp, fish sticks, coconut shrimp, smoked salmon. All vegan & gluten free! It is hard to see a processed product as a health food, we have been so used to the stuff in packets being high in salt, fat and cholesterol, but if you need food in a hurry then you just may love these. Eating them feels/tastes like a decadent treat.
The secret to the texture of the ‘seafood’ is Konjac.
Konjac root is used as vegan substitute for gelatine and is the main ingredient in Sophie’s Kitchen’s range. The starchy corms of the plant are made into a flour and jelly. In its basic form konjac is a tasteless food which easily absorbs accompanying flavours. It has zero calories. Yep, calorie free. It is used in every dieters dream food – shirataki noodles . It is also zero carbs! Packed with soluble fibre, clinically proven to actually lower cholesterol. It has a really high fiber (fibre) content that slows digestion, therefore controlling blood sugar and increasing the feeling of fullness or satiety. I know, I know, I am excited about this too! But that is in it’s pure state. Sophie’s Kitchen add breading to some products (gluten free, made with potato starch and brown rice powder) and so this adds to the calorie value, but their values are still really low. I sampled the scallops and found them to have the slightly rubbery texture akin to seafood and a subtle, savoury, but not really ‘fishy’ flavour. I loved them. And the bonus is, if you grill/broil them or dry fry in a little stock they are only 50 calories, 1g fat and 11g carbs per 100g serving. Awesome!! The crab cakes (120 kcal, 13g carb, 3g protein) had an interesting texture. They are a patty of shredded konjac gel which has a flaking consistency. The flavours are all of their own, hard for me to describe, but really good. Delicately seasoned with white pepper. As a long term vegan I appreciated the new flavours and textures. My housemate, presently a carnivore, is always honest about the little ‘trials’ I put before her as she sits at her desk working. She enthusiastically pronounced that they were both ‘really delicious’.
The products have an ingredient, beta glucan, I’d not come across before so I researched it to make sure it was not a ‘nasty’ and was ok for you. According to the information I found online, beta glucan is a soluble fibre that may lower blood sugar. It has also been proven to be an immune stimulator. I’ve since seen it sold in veggie caps online at a health food store.
There are recipes on the website but really I think they are meant as a quick and easy convenience food. I spoke with a member of the Sophie’s Kitchen team and she said their customers regularly use them in Asian style soups and lettuce wraps. Veg TV has a couple of recipes if you need some inspiration.
I asked the people at Sophie’s Kitchen they’d let me offer one person a chance to try them for free. They happily agreed. Simply just use the Rafflecopter below and like my Facebook page. Good luck. Oh..sorry, entrants only in the USA please. T&C’s in the Rafflecopter widget below.