I bought a package of frozen vegetarian shrimp in spite of the somewhat hefty price (about $5.50 for 10 or 12 of the pink and white shrimpy looking things) and the recent scares about food imported from China. This was kind of a treat for myself and also a way to satisfy my curiosity. Of all the many versions of cold cuts, chicken nuggets, sausage, turkey, and steak I’ve seen, I had never laid eyes on fake crustaceans. Considering the news about imports with questionable ingredients, I had some hesitation. However, I happen to know that the most fun imitation meat and fish products come from China, and as a wise man once said, “to flirt with danger is to invite disaster, but also the possibility of a tasty un-shrimp pad Thai.” So the package went into my cart.
Wanting an empirically accurate sample of this stuff, I decided to saute some of it and fry the rest. So I threw in a few with the veggies I was stir frying for a noodle dish one night and then breaded the rest the next night to fry them. Overall, it was weird but good. It turns out to be eerily accurate in texture, and eerie all around. Unlike most fake meat products, this contained hardly any protein. It was actually made out of corn or rice starch (the ingredients said something like “vegetable starch”). It was chewy and actually pretty addictive. I couldn’t stop popping the deep fried ones.
So next time you’re at an international grocery store, I highly recommend looking for the random shrink-wrapped bag of veggie shrimp and digging in.