Like many during the peak of the quarantine era, I began to binge-watch Netflix.
Bored with my normal cooking competition shows, I began to search for meaningful documentaries to occupy my time. And in 2021, I watched “Seaspiracy.”
This documentary covers issues ranging from plastic pollution and microplastics to the daunting fishing industry. It highlights how many environmentalist groups will not state the basic fact that consuming seafood is bad for the environment.
If you go on to Oceana.org, you will find an article called, “Eating seafood can reduce your carbon footprint, but some fish are better than others.” The majority of the ocean’s pollution is fishing gear. Commercial fishing causes destruction of the ocean’s ecosystems and kills multiple species — such as turtles and seals, not just the ones they are selecting to fish.
Yet, environmentalist groups are hesitant to suggest lowering or even eliminating the consumption of fish. If you want to understand what the hesitation is, follow the money. If you have not watched “Seaspiracy” produced by Kip Andersen, the same producer of “Cowspiracy ” and “What the Health,” I urge you to do so.
This documentary will give you a better understanding of the direct effects our food system has on the environment.
Vegan food can get a bad rap. Society often pushes the idea that plant-based meals are either “fake,” expensive or lacking flavor, and I am here to assure you this is not true. Whether you have chosen to switch to a plant-based diet for health reasons, for the animals or for the planet — you deserve delicious meals.
And, while there are some amazing mock meats on the market, such as Gardein’s F’sh fillets, Good Catch’s Fishless Tuna, and Quorns fishless sticks, making your own alternatives is just as delicious and half the cost. Listed below is my seafood base. I use this as a “faux tuna” or “crab cake base” or my seafood substitute for sushi.
While I do add additional ingredients to fit the meal I am preparing, this is the base of all of those meals and is easy to adapt or eat as is.
- 1 can of chickpeas drained
- ¼ of a large onion, diced.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (amino acids)
- 1 tablespoon Frank’s hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon old bay seasoning
To make this “seafood” base, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans.) Then using a fork, press the chickpeas to create a “tuna fish”-like texture.
If you find pressing the chickpeas challenging, begin to add your liquids (soy sauce, hot sauce and olive oil) to your chickpeas. Ensure the liquids are evenly distributed in the chickpea mixture and continue to press until the desired texture. Once most of the chickpeas have been pressed, mix in the diced red onion and old bay seasoning.
Some ingredients I recommend adding to enhance your experience include:
- lemon juice
- finely cut nori strips/seaweed (for additional sea like flavor)
- pickles or jalapenos for a crunchy factor
- vegan mayo
Feel free to adjust seasonings to your liking. And voila! This is your basic seafood base. Enjoy as is with crackers or as a seafood substitute in a recipe. I have listed two recipes below that used this base as a mock meat to help your creative juices flow.
Basic sushi roll
- 1 sheet of sushi sheet (nori)
- 3 tablespoons sushi rice
- 3 tablespoons of seafood base
- ½ tablespoon of sriracha
- 1 teaspoon of everything bagel seasoning
To start your sushi roll, take a sheet of nori, place the shinier side down toward your surface.
Place your sushi rice at the center of the nori sheet and begin to evenly spread the rice to the bottom ⅔ of your nori sheet.
You will be rolling away from you. By placing all of the sushi’s contents closer to you, it will make the rolling process easier; think of a burrito.
Then place the seafood substitute on top of the rice. Repeat the process of evenly spreading the seafood base just as you did the sushi rice.
Now, using water on your fingers, wet the sides of the nori sheet; this will help with sealing the roll.
Take your sriracha and generously top your roll in a zig-zagging pattern and garnish with a few shakes of the everything bagel seasoning.
Cut the roll using a sharp non-serrated knife at a 45-degree angle with about 1-inch spacing.
- 1 roll of your choice
- 2 slices of vegan cheese
- ¾ cup seafood base
- Handful of spinach
To create the “tuna melt,” cut your choice of bread in half and toast. If using an air fryer, air crisp at 390 degrees for 3 minutes.
Then add vegan cheese. I used Violife’s smoked provolone slices. Air crisp for an additional 2 minutes. You can also cook this similarly to a grilled cheese on the stove if you do not have an air fryer.
This will melt the cheese enough for the seafood base to adhere to the bottom toast slice.
Bake for 2 additional minutes or until the seafood filling is warm.
Then remove the slices and garnish with spinach or other toppings.
Celeste Schuveiller has a culinary degree and certificate in nutrition. In 2018, she began removing animal byproducts from her life after interning at a Colorado animal sanctuary and discovering the pain and suffering that went along with those products. She volunteers at Hercules’ Haven, a local animal sanctuary.
For any questions or comments, email email@example.com. Visit the VCEI website at www.veganeasterniowa.org/ or join the group on Facebook and Meetup.