The Ingredients That Give Vegan Seafood That Fishy Flavor

The global market for plant-based seafood reached $62.7 million in 2022. The same report from IMARC says that by 2028, the market is expected to jump to $308.3 million. If you are wondering, that is a predicted growth rate of nearly 30% in just five years.

Food manufacturers have caught on to the growing trend toward plant-based seafood, with a wide variety of faux fish products in most mainstream grocery stores. And we have to hand it to them; the flavors and textures are impressive, and they are a great, convenient way to introduce people to plant-based seafood and vegan meats in general.

But, these processed packaged meals often contain a lot of oil, preservatives, and ingredients that are hard to pronounce. Concerned consumers who prefer a hands-on whole foods approach to their meals will be glad to know they can easily create their own out-of-this-world plant-based seafood in their own kitchens.

How to make vegan seafood

A lot of the reasoning behind people's cravings for meat and seafood has to do with the seasonings added to them. Think about all the marinades, salts, spices, herbs, oils, and breading added before mealtime — those same flavorings can be added to plant-based dishes to make your own vegan seafood.

Many fish dishes are topped with Old Bay seasoning, so adding this to your vegan seafood will similarly ignite your taste buds. If you don't have the can in your cupboard, you can make your own version with celery seed, salt, red and black pepper, and paprika.

An essential for your vegan seafood is lemon (freshly squeezed is best). Lemon pepper is helpful, too, as are dill and mustard seed. Capers and chopped celery are perfect for a zing and a crunch. Olives and sun-dried tomatoes also add a chewy texture and savory flavor.

Of course, sea vegetables like nori, kelp, wakame, dulse, and other types of seaweed and algae are a quick and effective way to get a distinct flavor of the sea. And when you balance these ingredients in various ways, you can achieve that distinct fishy flavor and texture without any fish involved!

Vegan seafood suggestions

You need not be vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian to enjoy plant-based seafood. Many consumers avoid eating fish due to health concerns related to mercury, pharmaceuticals, and other harmful contaminants. In contrast, others skip seafood for environmental reasons (overfishing with wildlife 'bycatch' runs rampant worldwide, and discarded fishing nets pollute the waters, causing additional harm to the environment). Then, of course, allergies, spiritual beliefs, and cholesterol concerns (we see you, shrimp!) are further reasons why plant-based seafood can be for everyone.

If you are intrigued by vegan seafood but are unsure where to start, we have many suggestions.

Try artichoke heart and red bell pepper crab cakes if you want a classy appetizer. Mushrooms make a fantastic vegan seafood base due to their smooth and chewy texture, with oyster mushrooms being a favorite go-to. So, if you are craving something cozy, try mushroom clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. And you can never make too many vegetable sushi rolls.

Hearts of palm ceviche loaded with fresh citrus and cilantro is refreshing beyond belief, and if you are craving a fried fish feast, there is trusty tempeh and tofu (extra firm and pressed is best) — now bring out the hot sauce!