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Vegan Salmon Steaks with aioli

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Vegan Salmon Steaks

Have you ever noticed that there is a plethora of store bought plant-based alternatives for beef, chicken, turkey, and bacon but not a lot of options when it comes to vegan fish products? It is probably only a matter of time until brilliant cooks, food scientists and engineers succeed in developing new textures, flavors that truly mimic fish. Why would we want to do this? Simply because we cannot continue to overharvest the ocean and in the process drive numerous key species like tuna to extinction, and threaten the delicate balance of our oceans.

Don’t take my word for it, just watch “The end of the line” and “Seaspiracy”. The good news is that you can already buy (mostly online) vegan tuna (called Tuno), crab cakes, and sashimi-like salmon that can be used for sushi or poke bowls. But nothing yet as far as I know of when it comes to a salmon steak for example. So until someone figures it out, I had to experiment to see if I could make something that could remotely pass for salmon.

Truth be told, I haven’t eaten fish for over 30 years, and my memory of the flavor is kind of fuzzy! I do recall smoked salmon though! So in the interest achieving something close I had to test it on my mother in-law, since she consumes fish on a regular basis. Turning tofu into a salmon steak is going to take some work. The color is a no-brainer as it can be achieved either with some beet powder or juice and turmeric or a few drops of food dye. One down!

Fish texture

The texture has to be firm, not mealy, and a little on the dry side. it may require multiple steps to get it just right. Should it be baked or pan fried or both? Both has produced the best result in my experience.

As to the flavor, that’s a whole other story! A nice marinade that is a little salty, smoky, and fatty could work. What about the fish taste? Some seaweed should do the trick.

Marinated salmon steaks
Marinated uncooked vegan salmon steaks

An obvious ingredient for the base is tofu, firm or extra firm. I used firm tofu in my first attempt (that’s all I had), so it had to be pressed gently for 10-15 minutes to release as much liquid as possible. Then you cut thick slices and round the front to make it more realistic.

Next, you can lightly score the top and sides so that it would absorb more marinade. It looked pretty darn amazing! It held together nicely after being marinated overnight, and baking it. Things were looking good until I cut it open.

The inside of the steak came out pale compared to the outside. Tofu can easily be flavored on the outside but getting the flavor and color to go through the whole piece is a challenge. This is because tofu doesn’t have a lot of space to absorb the marinade. In a way, this is why we need food scientists to deconstruct and reform ingredients to look and taste a certain way, especially when we try to mimic something. Factory farming and over harvesting our oceans is absolutely unsustainable! Maybe this is why meat is now being grown in labs.

Food in the future

I read that there are plans to terra form other planets. Maybe it is because we as a specie may not be able to live on this planet forever. I sometimes wonder what does Elon Musk know that makes him want to colonize Mars? It is true that with climate change, extreme weather conditions, our food supply and systems are being threatened. It is quite possible that in the future, food will most likely printed not grown. This isn’t sci fi, it is already happening for astronauts in space programs. Can you imagine raising cows on the moon? This way we control inputs and outputs, nutritional content, there is no waste, no suffering, no slaughterhouses. But I digress! Back to our tofu salmon!

Cooking the salmon steak

I baked the tofu in some of the marinade to help absorb it. I wasn’t sure if it would hold together just panfrying it. As as result the piece did soak a lot of the marinade, and the heat firmed it up while being poached in the oven. Then all that was left to do was to add the seaweed and quickly pan fry each piece to crisp the outside. It came out really nice. The only thing was that the color didn’t carry through the center but the flavor was homogeneous through every bite.

Salmon steaks go perfectly with a side of aioli or whipped garlic. I like to serve them on a bed of rice, or pasta, with steamed spinach, or stir fried vegetables. It really makes an elegant dish that will impress your friends and family. Do me a favor, don’t say anything until everyone has a chance to taste it.

Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Can be frozen but the texture will change a little after thawing.

Vegan Salmon steak

Vegan Salmon steak with aioli

Perfectly formed and cooked faux salmon steaks make an elegant dinner that will impress your friends and family!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Entree
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 6 people

Equipment

  • bread loaf pan

Ingredients
  

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tsp kelp granules (optional)
  • 1 tbsp caper brine
  • 2 drops red and yellow food dye

Salmon steak

  • 1 16oz organic firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 sheet of roasted nori seaweed (used for sushi)
  • 1/2 lemon

Instructions
 

Prepare the marinade

  • Whisk all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.

Prepare the steaks

  • Turn the oven to 375° F.
  • Drain the liquid from the package of organic tofu.
  • Cut the bloc in half, then make 3 thick slices with each half. Round the front to resemble a fish steak. You should end up with 6 steaks.
  • Wrap the tofu slices in a clean kitchen towel and place a pot on top of it to absorb as much liquid as possible. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently unwrap the towel making sure not to break the slices.
  • Using a sharp knife, make shallow crisscross cuts on top and a few on the side.
  • Pour some of the marinade at the bottom of a narrow baking pan like a bread loaf plan.
  • Add the slices of tofu with the seaweed on top and pour the remaining marinade on top making sure that some go into the . Swirl the dish back and forth. There should be enough liquid to partly cover the slices. Add more broth if needed.
    vegan salmon steak
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Then carefully flip the slices so that both sides can absorb the marinade.
  • Bake another 20 minutes or until most of the marinade has been absorbed.
  • Heat a frying pan with a little avocado or olive oil, quickly panfry each steak until lightly crisp.
    Vegan salmon steak
  • Serve immediately with a slice of lemon and a side of aioli.
    vegan salmon
Keyword faux fish, gluten-free, Vegan fish
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