Scampi falsi aglio e olio

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Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:04 am

I’ve got quite a discussion going on Facebook about a wacky ingredient I’ve been fooling with today, Sophie’s Kitchen brand vegan “prawns,” a plant-based item made of konjaku (Japanese elephant yam root) and edible seaweed flavors in a processed meatless food that looks a lot like, well, prawns. http://sophieskitchen.net/html/products/prawans.html
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Facebook discussion: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4855871347149

I decided to try them, mostly out of curiosity to see whether a “prawn” made from non-sentient vegetable stuff could fill a shrimp-shaped space in the heart and tummy of a gastronome who likes seafood but has chosen, for ethical or environmental or health or whatever reasons not to eat animals. So I set up a mise en place for some garlicky, olive-oily scampi, which I decided to call scampi falsi aglio e olio, loosely translated “fake shrimp with garlic and oil.” :lol:
Image
Facebook discussion: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4855984989990

The finished dish was pretty good. No, the scampi falsi didn’t taste like shrimp, but their texture was reasonably close and their flavor was faintly seafoody and not at all unpleasant. In the context of the garlic, oil and lemon and pasta and a nice Portuguese Douro white, it wasn’t a bad dinner at all.
Image
Facebook discussion: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4856472482177

I’ve linked to the Facebook discussions, which got pretty interesting and thoroughly civil. I’d be glad to engage in a similar discussion here, asking only, as I did over there, “no hatin’, please.” :D
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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:34 am

Alas, the visual reminds me a bit of college dining hall "shrimpees". About which the less said the better.

I do like surimi, which is also fake (fake crabmeat) but it is made with pollock so it isn't fake fish.
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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:01 am

Lucky me, I have never experienced a "shrimpee." :lol:
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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:56 am

Any thoughts on how they get even a hint of seafood flavor without using some sort of seafood product (like the crab extract that goes into surimi)?

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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Jenise » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:23 pm

I've always held, and believe you once did too as we've discussed it here long ago, that it seems rather silly-odd to give up meat but then want to eat processed food that is formed and shaped like the meat that's no longer good enough for you. I believe we were particularly derisive of fake hot dogs. I find it very interesting, then, and observe this without condemnation, that you're now on the other side of the fence.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:50 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:Any thoughts on how they get even a hint of seafood flavor without using some sort of seafood product (like the crab extract that goes into surimi)?

Seaweed! Edible seaweed like hijiku or any of the dozens of others found in any Japanese market. :)
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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:58 pm

Jenise wrote:I've always held, and believe you once did too as we've discussed it here long ago, that it seems rather silly-odd to give up meat but then want to eat processed food that is formed and shaped like the meat that's no longer good enough for you. I believe we were particularly derisive of fake hot dogs. I find it very interesting, then, and observe this without condemnation, that you're now on the other side of the fence.

It's true! And I guess my first snarky response is to say that now that I've thought it over, we were cracking wise about something that wasn't really any of our business. :lol:

More seriously, perhaps, cracking wise over something that I had not internalized and couldn't really understand.

In the busy discussions on Facebook last night, which broke into three parts under the three pictures (links above), I gave some off-the-cuff responses that I still like when I re-examine them in the light of day:

First, in brief:
"... they'll serve to fill a shrimp-size space in the heart and tummy of a seafood lover who has made an ethical decision to choose a plant-based diet."

Second, a longer answer I gave Jeff, which really wraps up the way I feel now:

Jeff Grossman No hate, just a question: If the intended consumer won't eat animal products then why is it a good idea to call the yam-based product by an animal-ish name? For that matter, why make yam stuff look like an animal when that is exactly what you _don't_ want to eat?

Robin Garr Jeff: Because you once ate and liked that stuff and miss the taste, but not the experience of eating once-sentient life? Because you decided to give up (or reduce) eating animal-based protein for environmental reasons, but you still remember how good shrimp or beef or pork used to taste? Because you read the research and decided - particularly as a graying Boomer - that meat consumption seems linked to heart disease and colon cancer and a bunch of other bad stuff? But you still want variety and flavor interest and, sometimes, the comfort-food experience? People choose plant-based food for many reasons, but people who love good food still seek variety. And, bottom line, why in the world should anyone care what gets someone else through the night, as long as no one is harmed in the process?

A side tour into the mind of a graying food writer watching a changing culinary world:
"... for those who'd prefer not to eat animals but have affectionate recollections of seafood, they offer an appealing option. Mostly, though, as stated at the outset, I wanted to experiment at the outer edges of the culinary scene. Both because of emerging food politics and the reality of the Baby Boom aging, plant-based options are becoming more mainstream. As a food writer who falls into the Boomer category, I'm interested in staying ahead of the curve and being one of the experts that the others will call for quotes when they finally get there."

And finally, just a little indulgence in snark: :D
"I look at commercials for BMW, Rolex and expensive cigars - and, now that I think about it, most Parker or Speck 100-point wines - and I just roll my eyes. I have little interest in those things, and yeah, I'm tempted to judge those who do. But I TRY not to."
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Re: Scampi falsi aglio e olio

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:40 pm

Robin, you are to be admired for your decision, it is a wise one and if it works for you and your love, that is all that counts and is really nobody's business or concern.

I have a ten year old granddaughter who 6 months ago decided not to eat anything with a mother or a face. No one knows why, and she isn't telling. Her brother who is 12 loves beef, their dad (our son) will eat anything, the mother can't stand red meat. It is a hard family to cook for both on the parent part and ours. When I cook for them, I just make sure I have a yummy salad with a lot of colorful goodies and two veggies. They are not a big potato or grain eating family but slowly are being introduced to them by the mother. I am introducing bean dishes when I have them here.
Just out of curiosity, has your grocery bill taken a turn towards the better? I would think that not buying meat would make a huge difference.
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