What Is A Vegan Substitute For…? (Part Two)

Continuing on from my first vegan substitutes post, let’s carry on with some more easy vegan substitutes for common animal foods item you might have given up or are thinking of giving up.

6. What is a good vegan substitute for fish sauce?
One of the difficulties I’ve encountered with eating at Vietnamese restaurants and to some degree Thai restaurants is that they use a lot of fish sauce and/or oyster sauce in a lot of vegetarian dishes. You need to ask about this. And I’ve sometimes been worried that I’ve been misunderstood when requesting it without such fish sauce. You have to go on blind vegan faith in this regard.

Anyway, if you’re wanting to make a nice Vietnamese pho bowl at home or some Thai curry that calls for fish sauce, the easy vegan option is to make your own vegan fish sauce. This is actually a lot easier than you might think. What makes fish sauce yummy, if you like that kind of things, is the fermentation process.

So what we want to do in making vegan fish sauce is to get two things primarily right. That fishy taste and that fermented taste. This can be done respectively by using seaweed and miso. Seaweed tastes kinda fish (I think, I haven’t eaten fish for almost 25 years now and counting). Miso is fermented soybean paste so it imparts that fermented or umami flavor.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe that I like. Combine 1 cup nori*, 4 cups water, 4 – 6 garlic cloves, a squirt of host sauce (I like Sriracha) to taste, 1 cup soy sauce and 1 tablespoon ketchup in a blender and blend well. Then pour the mixture into a saucepan and gently boil until it has reduced by at least one third to a half. Just before it’s done, reduce heat to barely a simmer and add in 1 tablespoon of miso paste. DO NOT boil the mixture when you’ve added the miso as it harms the flavor and microorganisms in the paste. When miso is mixed in – no more than a couple or three minutes – take of heat. Let cool and store. Use as you would regular fish sauce as dips, in soups etc.

*IMPORTANT NOTICE: Don’t use Kelp – it has way to much iodine, and don’t use Hijiki/Hiziki which has too much arsenic 🙁

7. What is a good vegan substitute for heavy cream?
Heavy cream is one of those things that people shouldn’t be eating much of at all. But hey, we all need a treat once in a while. Whenever I’ve needed a vegan heavy cream I’ve used one of three options depending on what I have available.

The first one is the fake can version. This is the easiest vegan substitute for heavy cream. Basically, you buy a can of Soyatoo and spray out as much vegan cream as you desire.

Another way, and usually my favorite way of making a heavy vegan whipped cream is to use full fat coconut milk. The stuff straight out of the can that is already thick. I like to add a few tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar so that it gets sweeter. You just dump it into the bowl and whip it until it is as thick as possible. You need a real beater for this to get the best results.

Similar to this process, I’ll take a package or two of firm silken tofu and whip it up until it is creamy. I also add some sugar to this as well. Alternatively, you can try this recipe if you have soy milk and oil kicking around home.

8. What is a good vegan substitute for Parmesan cheese?
Parmesan cheese is pretty strong tasting. I’m generally a lazy cook. Maybe it’s because I have a small kitchen or because I can’t be bothered cooking for a couple of hours when the food gets eaten in ten minutes.

As such, when it comes to finding a vegan substitute for Parmesan cheese, I just use this one which is premade.

I’ve seen others suggesting making your own vegan Parmesan cheese by blending or grinding equal parts of nuts (cashews, walnuts) with nutritional yeast and salt (not equal amounts of salt, just to taste). My experience with this has not been ideal. What I’d likely add to this vegan Parmesan cheese recipe is some nori or a dash of Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce. That might give it a better cheesy tangyness that is missing.

9. What is a good vegan substitute for sour cream?
This is an easy one. Just make your own vegan sour cream. There are a ton of different recipe options out there, but I like to keep it simple. I use a package of firm silken tofu and about a quarter cup of lemon juice with a tablespoon or two of sugar to taste. Voila, you’ve just made your own substitute vegan sour cream.

If you find it’s not quite as creamy as you’d like, try blending the above with a bit of olive oil or canola oil. About 1 tablespoon to start.

10. What is a good vegan substitute for beef?
This almost goes without saying. But I’ll humor the internet trolls who actually ask these sorts of questions.

If you’re looking for a protein option, then use any sort of beans. Tofu works well if you use extra firm tofu and squeeze it dry and fry it in a little bit of oil and soy sauce along with veg and other seasoning.

If you’re really looking for a beef substitute, you can make your own seitan or you can buy vegan beef fake meats. Gardein offers lots of options.

But at the end of the day, it should go without saying that if you eat a varied plant based whole foods vegan diet, you will get more than enough protein. Let’s put the protein monster back to bed so he suck his thumb and dream of tofu.

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