Vegan Seafood Sushi May Be Coming to a Store Near You
Vegetarians and vegans (or just raw-fish-averse people) rejoice: Now you can have your sushi without the seafood! And it looks (and apparently tastes) remarkably like the real thing.
The faux sushi was developed by Ocean Hugger Foods, a company that set out to create the world's first plant-based alternative to raw fish. Chef James Corwell was inspired to start the company after learning about overfishing and the need for a sustainable seafood alternative. Beyond sushi, the product can be used in ceviche, tartare, poke bowls, salads, and wraps.
The faux-tuna, called ahimi, launched on November 1 of last year in select New York and Los Angeles Whole Foods locations, according to a Whole Foods press release. Shortly after, the supermarket giant announced they were expanding the plant-based alternative to 40 Whole Foods stores.
The faux-tuna rolls have since appeared on college campuses and in corporate offices, and the brand recently released a statement that it would be available at seven additional Whole Foods locations. This announcement came days after the Tokyo-based company, Nishimoto, said they would begin distributing their plant-based products across the globe. Consumers can expect to see the sushi at stores in Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe, and expanded U.S. retailers soon.
Ocean Hugger Foods is currently developing two other sushi alternatives that they plan to release at the end of 2018. Sakimi will be a salmon substitute made from carrots and Unami is an eggplant-based alternative to eel.
The name ahimi comes from the word "ahi" meaning tuna and "mi" meaning spirit in Japanese. The faux-fish is made from peeled tomatoes that are marinated in a mixture of water, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. The pieces are then cooked down at a very low temperature for a long time, though the exact method is kept a company secret, the Los Angeles Times reported. The result is a very meaty, umami-rich taste and texture akin to ahi tuna.
This plant-based option joins other veggie-forward rolls already available at the sushi counter. The vegan tuna is used in an Ahimi California Roll ($8.99) and an Ahimi Sushi Combo ($11.99), according to Veg News. You can try the futuristic fish with the store locator.
Whole Foods has previously awarded Ocean Hugger Foods with a Whole Foods Market Supplier Award for outstanding innovation in April 2018. In addition, Whole Foods included Ocean Hugger Foods Ahimi vegan tuna as one of their plant-forward predicted food trends of 2018.
All of the plant-based fish products are safe for vegans, vegetarians, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.