Vegan MoFo Day 2 – Mock Fried Scallops

2 10 2012

Happy National Fried Scallops Day!

Scallops are more interesting than I thought.  Did you know they can have up to 100 eyes?  Seriously! SCALLOPS HAVE EYES!!!  Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scallop.

So since scallops are alive and have 100 eyes and all, I am really glad I don’t eat them.  But because it’s National Fried Scallops day, I had to cook something scallop-y.  I thought about scalloped potatoes, but I’ve never really liked scalloped potatoes so that was out.  I thought about building a scallop out of agar and kelp powder and magic, but I don’t have those kind of skills.  So I basically went to the supermarket and bought veggies with interesting, possibly scallop-y, textures.  So today I made mock scallops from tofu, eggplant, and plantain.

As a sidenote, I have a coworker (not vegan) and we batted the idea back and forth of what foods would have the appropriate texture to make a vegan scallop.  She had the really interesting idea of using lychees.  Long story short, she actually tried it.  She leached out the sugar by soaking them in water, marinated them in salt and fish sauce, then breaded and fried them.  She reported back that the lychee smell never went away, even though the sweetness did leach out and the saltiness seep in, so it was somewhat of a failure unless she plugged her nose.  But as far as I’m concerned, anyone who gets excited about trying to make a scallop out of a lychee gets ten million bonus points in the game of life.

So back to my mock scallops.  I marinated the tofu, plantain, and eggplant in a mixture of water, vegetarian fish sauce, and wakame.  It smelled pretty ocean-y.

I let it go for about an hour and a half (note: not long enough!) then battered and shallow pan fried them in a cast iron skillet.  I used seasoned flour (flour + Old Bay + wakame ground to a powder in my spice grinder) and soy milk to flour/dip in soy milk/coat with flour.  Then I fried them at about 350 degrees.  I picked seasoned flour rather than breadcrumbs because it was 8:30 at night and it seemed like the simplest option.

Here’s what they looked like.  Keep in mind that I’ve got zero mad blogging photo skillz.  And nothing I fry comes out beautiful and delicate looking… it comes out looking like I fried it until it SUBMITTED TO MY WILL.

(Plantain to the left, eggplant in the center, and tofu to the rear right.)

Verdict:

  • Plantains: Ick.  Just ick.  Seaweed flavored plantains were just wrong, and the texture was totally not right.  Don’t do this unless you enjoy weird contrasts.
  • Tofu:  Definitely tasted like tofu.  I think the texture was close, but the marinade really didn’t penetrate enough to cover up the bean curd flavor.  Given my experiences with tofu, I’m not sure I ever could have gotten it to marinate well enough to flavor it all the way through.  Still, it was fried tofu so we gobbled it up.
  • Eggplant:  This one had the most promise.  The texture was a bit too soft for sea scallops, at least according to my memory of the one time I ate them years ago.  But the eggplant soaked up the seaweedy flavor pretty well, and they were really good. (Hello! Fried eggplant nuggets!)

My better half (not vegan) made the observation about both the tofu and the eggplant that he had eaten frozen processed fish products in the past that had less seafood flavor than my mock scallops, so I’ll cut my losses and consider it a victory.  And then I will go have another eggplant nugget.

But before I go, Merry would like you to know that she is sad that the whole world is not playing with her.

And tomorrow is National Caramel Custard Day!  I have plans to celebrate it, but I’ll be taking a rain check until later in the week.  We’re going out for dinner and drinks with a couple of friends who will be in town for the evening, so I don’t think I’ll have time.  BUT I’LL BE BACK!!!  AND I’LL BE MAKING FLAN!!!!!

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10 responses

2 10 2012
jonimarie

That was an awesome experiment! I am putting eggplant scallops on my must try list. The best mock scallops I’ve ever tried were made with the stems of large mushrooms. But even then, it’s all about the sauce, and your marinade sounded like it had all the great flavor of the sea!

3 10 2012
zensquiggle

Thanks jonimarie! Finding large-stemmed mushrooms in my area is really hit and miss, so I couldn’t try them this time around, but the next time I find some I’m definitely going to repeat the experiment! And with a little lemon and a smidge of cocktail sauce, the eggplant was actually really good, even though the texture wasn’t very scallop-y. Good luck!

2 10 2012
Fanny

I believe you get a lot of bonus points in life for this experiments as well!

3 10 2012
zensquiggle

We’ve definitely gotten a lot of laughs so far! And while nothing yet has been a complete success, I’ve learned things that were interesting and that almost worked, and that I will definitely try again later. So the end result has been a lot of fun!

3 10 2012
Sal

the thought of scallops having 100 eyes makes me feel a bit sick. hahaha. nice one for trying to create vegan ones though!

3 10 2012
zensquiggle

I know, isn’t that strange? I never even thought of shellfish having eyes, much less 100 eyes, which pretty much makes eating a scallop equivalent to eating a spider in my book. *shudder*

3 10 2012
corrinadarling

“Keep in mind that I’ve got zero mad blogging photo skillz. And nothing I fry comes out beautiful and delicate looking… it comes out looking like I fried it until it SUBMITTED TO MY WILL.” <—- THAT made me chuckle.

What an awesome experiment! Did you see Olives for Dinner's scallop post? She used oyster mushrooms, I believe. Maybe you can do a round 2?

3 10 2012
zensquiggle

I have seen Olives for Dinner’s method and it looks delicious! Unfortunately the only mushrooms readily available around here are button, crimini, and portobello. The next time I see a mushroom with a gigantic stem, though, I’m scooping it up and making scallops with it!

3 10 2012
charj

Cool experiment. I need to get my hands on some wakame.

4 10 2012
zensquiggle

I picked up my wakame at an asian market. I think you could use just about any dried seaweed.

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