Marketed as “the new vegan seafood”, the brand Sophie’s Kitchen recently debuted their line of GMO-free faux-fish products– most of which are gluten free and soy free, which differentiates them from the majority of vegan “fish” products on the market today. Considering the fact that most recipes for vegan “fish” sticks and fillets, “crab” cakes and other “seafood” products are made with tofu, tempeh, wheat gluten, or textured vegetable protein aka TVP (also soy), Sophie’s products caught my eye and impressed me as a potential game-changer. Sophie’s Kitchen is named after the owners’ young daughter, who enjoys the taste of seafood but is allergic to most varieties. While it is unclear whether the owners are vegan, they donate 5% of profits to causes that promote the protection of marine life. *The company is also based in Sebastapol, CA. Having grown up in Sonoma County, I was further intrigued and couldn’t resist the $4.99 purchase.
Sophie’s products are made with konjac yams, the principal ingredient in the Shirataki noodles I’ve been using for awhile now in recipes that traditionally call for rice or wheat noodles i.e. Pad Thai and Lad Na. I decided to try the crab cakes because the ingredients were more paleo friendly than in other products i.e. the breaded shrimp or the fish fillets. Also, konjac yam flour seems to be more prominent an ingredient than in some of the other products, which may explain the relatively low carbohydrate content (13g per serving). Sophie’s “crab” cakes are made with brown rice protein and and pea protein– so they are not grain free and do contain legumes. I baked two of these vegan crab cakes by Sophie’s kitchen according to the instructions on the package. Served with a simple green salad and sliced lemon, it was satisfying yet not necessarily crab-like…but then again it’s been 10 years since I last ate fish. I expected it to taste like seafood (since they are made with seaweed) but the texture was more potato than fish (like a latke or hash brown). But once again, I don’t have any tangible memory of eating a crab cake– thus, I’m not really in a position to judge its authenticity as a vegan version.
Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cake
Ingredients: water, pea protein, potato starch, canola oil, seaweed powder, rice flakes (from brown rice), konjac powder, rice vinegar (from brown rice), organic agave nectar, sea salt, celery powder, black pepper, bay leaf, nutmeg, ginger, paprika, dry mustard, cloves, calcium hydroxide.
Would I buy Sophie’s Kitchen vegan crab cakes again? Maybe. I definitely want to try the “scallops” which are grain free. I plan to do more research on konjac yams, with the intention of creating my own “crab” cakes and other recipes (with the ultimate goal of creating new paleo-vegan creations that are not imitations of traditional meat- or grain- based dishes). This brings me to “queer vegan food”, described by vegan blogger Sarah E. Brown as “an effort to expand the vegan culinary world beyond vegan cuisine which imitates the non-vegan food world”. Her recent publication The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook features recipes by various contributors including Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan and Skinny Bitch author Rory Freedman. The concept is revolutionary because it represents a departure from the idea that we as vegans are “missing” something or have to replace any particular food group in order to stay healthy or enjoy food the way non-vegans do. In other words, it is a movement toward freedom from established paradigms and conventions about food– with the potential to move away from traditions that are clearly non-conducive to our survival, the welfare of animals, or the health of the planet in general. What about you, dear readers? Any thoughts on queer vegan food, vegan crab cakes, or vegan seafood in general?