In June I talked about vegan calamari which I discovered first through an ad in Veg News magazine and then at Pangea, the Vegan Store online. I finally got around to trying it this evening. Highly skeptical the whole time, I lay out the breaded rings on a baking sheet, opting to bake rather than deep-frying them. A pot of boiling water was ready for half a package of thin spaghetti. If the calamari turned out to be lousy, at least I had plenty of pasta to fall back on. And most importantly, I reheated some leftover homemade marinara sauce. I figured as with real calamari, the sauce is the key. No bottled pasta sauce for this meal.
It only took ten minutes to heat the rings at 400 degrees Fahreinheit. In fact, I might have overdone it a bit because the breaded part was a bit too crunchy and hard for my taste. But when I took my first bite, I was startled at, texture wise, just how similar this was to actual calamari. I took several bites in fact in total disbelief. I truly didn't expect such similarity and pleasure (again, the sauce or dip matters! Don't skimp on that. A good sauce makes this "calamari" an even bigger treat.) This and my spaghetti made for a very pleasant meal.
The key ingredient to the vegan calamari is konjac powder, which is derived from a plant called konnyaku, or elephant yam, native only to Japan, China, Korea, and Indonesia. This powder is used as a vegan substitute for gelatin in East Asia. The best part? This plant is very low in calories and very high in fiber. The Hoppy Vegan was very pleased with this product--two enthusiastic bunny ears up for Sophie's Kitchen. Can't wait to try her faux shrimp.