One of the most important skills one tends to adopt when following a plant-based diet is the art of using spices. Once you’ve removed meat from your diet, you’ll begin to realize that with the right flavor combinations, replacing animal-based protein sources with vegan options is easy!
Particularly when it comes to seafood, there are a few key ingredients that will allow you to enjoy your favorite ocean-inspired dishes in pure plant form.
A quick Google search tells us that, "seafood is any form of sea life regarded as food by humans." That said, a few of the following foods can and should be considered seafood rather than seafood "flavors" or alternatives (nori and kelp, specifically). Here are some tips to incorporate your favorite seafood flavors in your plant-based diet:
Not only will this powdered option give your meal the rich taste of seafood (because it’s actually food… from the sea), you’ll also get a healthy dose of iodine — a mineral essential for a healthy functioning thyroid. Although it’s not commonplace for manufacturers to include how much iodine is in their kelp products, you can always contact the company directly if you’re curious about meeting your iodine needs.
How to: Use kelp seasoning to flavor chickpea “tuna” salad and to enhance the taste of your favorite soups.
2. Old Bay
A true staple in the Northeast, this spice is essential for recreating many seafood dishes. Made by combining black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika and celery salt, Old Bay adds a complex, almost smoky taste to a variety of seafood dishes. Whether you’ve previously enjoyed this ingredient in crab cakes or salmon soup, the same flavor profile can be achieved when used in vegan dishes. Swap out crab meat for hearts of palm or artichoke hearts and you’ll have a plant-based version of a classic. And of course, you can make a delicious dairy-free sauce for dipping on the side!
How to: Craving crab cakes? Use Old Bay to add a smoky taste to hearts of palm cakes.
3. Mock “fish”
Even the most adventurous cook appreciates a quick option for nights when making dinner from scratch is off the table. There are a variety of options for those both looking to avoid animal products and the time it can take to prepare a full-on meal. Several brands available in stores have phenomenal options from “crab” cakes to “fish” sticks and even canned “tuna.”
How to: In bowl, combine canned “tuna” with egg-free mayo, diced celery and a couple lettuce leaves. Pile on top of toast and enjoy!
4. Nori sheets
You’re probably used to enjoying these dried seaweed sheets in your sushi rolls. But when prepared correctly, tofu wrapped in nori sheets can be reminiscent of flaky fish. Simply lay out a nori sheet, spread on your favorite dressing or sauce and layer with grains and veggies for a seaworthy snack.
How to: Use nori to create brown rice, avocado and cucumber sushi rolls. You can also create other authentic, Asian-inspired dishes, such as homemade miso soup, using this healthy ingredient.