Vegan Prawns: A Product Review…So You Don’t Have to.

August 29, 2013 By: Megabeth Category: Product Review, Recipe

veganprawns6Sometimes I try things so you don’t have to. In this case, it’s vegan prawns. I was all excited to be able to report back to you, my dear Veggin’ readers, that this product was fantastic, divine, tasty, incredible or even edible. But, I can’t. I just can’t say any of those things. I’m getting ahead of myself so let me start from the beginning.

I saw these vegan prawns, by Sophie’s Kitchen,  at my local organic market in the freezer section and I immediately thought, “Ooooh, I can make shrimp scampi!”

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The product is 100% vegan and soy free. Primary ingredients include konjac powder, potato starch, and carrageenan (a seaweed based gelatin).

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The product is vacuum packed and meant to be kept frozen and defrosted before use.

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The shrimp are first thawed, and then cooked by sauteing them for a few minutes on each side. I whipped up a quick scampi (recipe below) to cook them in and nestled the shrimp atop some freshly made quinoa that had some lemon juice squeezed on it.

One bite of the vegan shrimp, and I knew the review was over. The feeling of biting into the shrimp reminded me of a rubber bicycle tube filled with old deflated squeaky balloons. Not that I’ve ever bitten into a rubber bicycle tube filled with deflated squeaky balloons but that’s got to be what it feels like.

I tried another bite, hoping that perhaps I was tasting and sensing things wrongly, but no, the second bite was just as bad as the first. The shrimp itself had a very mild salty flavor but the sensation of biting into it just couldn’t be overcome. Meanwhile, the in-house taste tester was quiet. I asked him what he thought. His reaction was just a simple, “um, no.”

Before you say, “Riiiight, Megabeth, you cooked it in a yucky sauce, perhaps that’s why it tasted bad.” I say, nay. The sauce was super good. Once I pushed all the shrimp off the quinoa and dug in, I was a happy camper.

Perhaps if the prawns weren’t so big and dense they wouldn’t be so rubbery and hard to take. I’m not quite sure. All I know is, I didn’t like it.

Look, I’m pretty nice here at Veggin’ and really don’t like having to post a bad review. So, before I write off Sophie’s Kitchen’s entire line of vegan seafood products, I would like to say that there are some other interesting products in their line that I am going to try, if I can find them. The vegan crab cakes and vegan smoked salmon look intriguing enough to try out.

If interested, here is my recipe for the vegan scampi sauce that I used. Poured over the quinoa, it was delicious. Perhaps I’ll try it with another vegetarian protein, but I know I won’t be using these fake shrimp again.

Recipe: Vegan Scampi Sauce

By: Megabeth

Summary: A quick sauce for quinoa or vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Heat butter in skillet over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and cook until softened.
  • Add vegan shrimp (if cooking with them), wine and lemon juice until shrimp are browned (about 2 – 3 minutes each side).
  • If not using shrimp, just cook sauce until reduced slightly.
  • Add parsley, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper right before serving.
  • Pour over rice, quinoa or vegetables.

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan

 

 

A Vegetarian Down Under: Vegetarian Options in Sydney, Australia

August 21, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review, Travel

Going “Down Under” does not mean that a vegetarian has to starve. In fact, there is a wealth of options for us that don’t go for rumps, ribs, roasts or roos.

In the United States, my typical experience with restaurants is that there is usually a little tiny “vegetarian” section on the menu. Or, even worse, listed in tiny print under the burger section is the option to get a veggie patty substitute (which invariably is some frozen hockey puck). It’s more often than not that restaurateurs in the US seem to just sigh, shrug their shoulders, and just throw in one option to appease us non-meat eaters.

In Sydney, however, vegetarian options were sprinkled all over the menus and, lo and behold, these options were thoughtful and creative. The wealth of local organic vegetables must inspire chefs to develop these great vegetarian dishes.  When I perused menus there wasn’t just one veggie burger option but two, three and sometimes even more, in the burger section. Was I in heaven?

I had a chance to check out some of great places around Sydney that I stumbled upon just wandering around the city.

Iku Whole Foods
Multiple Locations in Sydney
Map of location visited

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The Iko Whole Foods we went to was in a large food court at the bottom of a downtown office building. The really extensive menu featured wraps, soups, casseroles, tarts, pies and more. All of it vegetarian or vegan. All organic.

My black bean curry was served steaming hot with brown rice. The curry included zucchini, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes and tofu in a really fresh and tasty sauce.

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The minestrone with pasta soup was hearty, filling and delicious. How often do you get this type of good food in a food court?

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(Note: There were several other stalls in the food court that had great vegetarian choices including Sumo Salad. I had a couple of the toasted wraps from there and they were quite good.)

Bodhi Restaurant+Bar
Cook & Phillip Park (between pool and cathedral on lower mezzanine)
Map

On a walk to the Manly Ferry, we stumbled across a vegan oasis in the middle of the city.  What a great way to start the day! Bodhi is located in a very relaxed and scenic part of the city in the Cook & Philip Park between a pool and St. Mary’s cathedral. There is ample outside seating which provided us with front row seats to watch all the early morning swim class attendees march by with their parents.

The breakfast menu includes a variety of yum cha (dim sum) to choose from. My steamed dumplings included a sticky rice, sweet potato and spinach. It was a unique and satisfying breakfast. Not sure what the crowds at lunch or dinner look like, but we spent a nice quiet time eating and planning our day at Bodhi.

Moo Gourmet Burgers
Bondi Beach
70A Campbell Parade
Map

In the spirit of full disclosure, I did not personally experience Moo Gourmet Burgers, but someone that went there gave me rave reviews after he ate there.  Apparently, he was one happy vegetarian after eating a red kidney bean burger and even happier after washing it down with a nice Aussie beer.

The Moo Gourmet Burger has three vegetarian burgers which include:

  • Chickpea burger – Chickpea & couscous patty, Swiss cheese, baby spinach, tomato, home‐made mayonnaise & tomato relish
  • Red kidney bean burger – Spicy red kidney bean patty, mixed leaf lettuce, tomato, home‐made mayonnaise & tomato relish
  • Falafal burger – Falafel, hummus, cucumber yogurt & chili jam& tomato juice

You can top off your veggie burger with extra toppings such as pineapple, avocado, mozzarella cheese, Swiss cheese, aged cheddar, sweet potato, tomato, beetroot. (I discovered on this trip my love of beetroot on a veggie burger. The earthiness of the beets is something that is quite good.)

Peace Harmony Vegie House
29 King Street
Sydney

Take out spot – 29 King Street
Restaurant – 44 Erskine Street

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This vegan Thai restaurant was right around the corner from our hotel and only steps from Darling Harbor. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to check out the food, but just by looking at the menu, I knew it would not let anyone go away hungry or disappointed. The chef specials included BBQ soy chicken, mushroom steak, soy fish and soy nuggets in plum sauce. They also had several thai salads with veggie lamb, beef or duck. There are also 15 stir fries, 6 curries, and 7 noodle dishes to choose from. Just a heads up, if you’re not specifically looking for this take out spot you may end up just walking by it.

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Looking for fancier fare? Check out my review of Harvest Vegetarian Restaurant. Well worth a visit if you’re in Sydney.

By the way, if you’re looking for a specific type of restaurant or location, check out Veggie Friendly for a quite extensive review of vegetarian and vegetarian friendly restaurants around Sydney.

Restaurant Review – San Francisco Soup Company, San Francisco, California

May 26, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Restaurant Review

The San Francisco Soup Company – why couldn’t this place be called Washington DC Soup Company? I would eat lunch here every day if it was located on the East Coast. As a vegetarian, it’s so refreshing to enter a restaurant and have items identified as vegan or vegetarian. This is even more refreshing when ordering soups because of ubiquitous chicken or beef stock in many soup recipes.

The San Francisco Soup Company boasts a long list of fresh soups that were vegetarian. The gentleman behind the counter gave me the  opportunity to sample a few soups. I had trouble deciding between a hot pea soup and  a cold avocado based southwestern soup. We also ordered a tomato bisque.  The menu changes daily but can be found easily on their website.

The tomato bisque had several complex flavors and depth. It was smoky and creamy. On a cool spring day, the soup was warming and filling.

San Francisco Soup Company - Tomato Soup

I finally decided on the cold avocado soup as it was refreshing and light. I added some hot sauce and sour cream and it became a fantastic mid-afternoon snack.

San Francisco Soup Company - Avocado Soup

There are 16 locations around San Francisco according to their website. I also just found out that there is a San Francisco Soup Company location in the SFO airport in Terminal 3. On my next layover, I definitely will be stopping by.

San Francisco Soup Company
Various Locations
San Francisco, California

“All Pro” Sandwich – Review

June 15, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Product Review

I finally had the opportunity to visit the My Organic Market in Alexandria. As the old saying goes, one should not shop on an empty stomach. However, if I hadn’t, then I never would have picked up this sandwich.

The all-organic, meat-free, egg-free and dairy-free “All Pro Sandwich” is made by Sunheen Health Products based out of Pennsylvania.

Made on sprouted multigrain bread, the bulk of the sandwich consisted of a tofu and textured soy patty. The patty was surrounded by lettuce, carrots, roasted peppers, onion, tamari and egg-free mayonnaise.

The patty looked like it could be a little dry but the egg-free mayonnaise provided just the right amount of moisture to it. I also feared that the thin slices of bread would be overwhelmed by the giant tofu slices, but they held their own. All the ingredients were fresh. Both the carrots and lettuce were crispy. I thought it a little odd that there was only one small roasted pepper in the sandwich.

Because there are no eggs to spoil or cheese to melt, this sandwich could survive the rigors of a backpack and provide a substantial snack while hiking, biking or being a tourist.


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