It seems like there’s always one vegan specialty product or another that is on my “scavenger hunt” list. In my pre-vegan days I might have heard about a new food item by way of TV advertising; however, most vegan foods don’t have that kind of advertising budget. (Sorry, kale.) Nowadays I hear about new products through blogs. Once enough people have Instagrammed it, tweeted it, or written long prose for it, I am often pretty curious to try it for myself.
Only one problem – living in the middle of small town America means that it takes a long while before the newest vegan burgers, chips, cheeses, and spreads make their way here (if they ever do). For things I’m particularly curious about or have tried and loved in other places, I’ll put in a request at one of my local grocery stores. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.
So I compile an ongoing list in my head of things that I want to keep an eye out for when I’m visiting one of those stores or if I’m in another bigger city where vegan specialty products arrive more quickly. (If only every city had a Viva La Vegan, Artichoke Red, or Nooch.)
One item that I’ve been eager to try since last spring when blogger after blogger raved about them at Expo West is Gardein Golden Fishless Filets. I’ve written about Gardein’s beefless burgers before, and David is in love with their 7 Grain Crispy Tenders. They make a tasty dinner plate centerpiece on evenings when we’re not in the mood to cook. Add some baked fries or steamed broccoli and dinner is ready.
Again and again people kept comparing the Fishless Filets to Long John Silvers. Admittedly, that may not sound like high praise. However, when I was in junior high if you’d asked my favorite restaurant, I would have said Long John Silvers. I was a fan of all manner of their strips, planks, and hushpuppies, and in love with their malt vinegar. (It’s just ordinary malt vinegar, but that was the only place in my realm that had it.) As an appetizer to a meal of fried, fried, and fried, I always added an order of crispies, the fried batter remnants that were sold for 25 cents per box. So the 7th grader inside of me was very curious to try these new filets for myself.
I finally found the Gardein Golden Fishless Filets in Omaha through a tip from The Laziest Vegans in the World. (Good and bad news: I later learned after babysitting three packages in the cooler for hours that one of our local stores where I’d requested them was now carrying them.)
We’ve made them a couple of different ways – first by baking them the entire time listed on the bag. They were tasty but not quite as crisp on the outside as I was hoping. The subsequent times we baked them for ten minutes and then shallow fried them in oil in a pan for 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Perfection.
Supposedly there are 3 servings worth in each bag, but who are we kidding? David and I split the bag (3 pieces per person), and that was a satisfying amount. The filets aren’t too fishy in taste, and the batter has a terrific flavor. With malt vinegar and a squeeze of lemon, it totally takes me back and no fish were harmed in the process.