Yes, You Can Make Plant-Based Seafood With Pantry Staples: Here's How

Swap fresh seafood for these fish-free alternatives.

Watermelon Poke Bowls

Plant-based seafood is on the rise! But what is it? Similar to a veggie "burger" or "chik'n" nuggets, plant-based seafood is made from plants, mainly veggies and legumes, to stand in for animal products in a variety of dishes. And while companies like Good Catch are slinging out vegan fish sticks and crab cakes to stock in your freezer, you can also make plant-based seafood at home with some standard pantry staples.

Note that the flavors may not be identical to true seafood, if you're used to that, but the textures are remarkably similar. Instead, these seafood-based dishes can come together without any use of animal products, which is better for the planet. Here's how.

How to Make Plant-Based Ceviche

Ceviche, a Peruvian dish that's often made with a white fish marinated in citrus juice, plus crunchy veggies like cucumber and onions, plus avocado and tomato, can be made fish-free. In traditional ceviche, when the fish marinates in lime, it produces a liquid called "leche de tiger" used to flavor the ceviche. In plant-based ceviche, coconut milk will swap in for that creaminess, and hearts of palm are used as the central ingredient, replicating the tanginess and chewiness.

For plant-based ceviche, you'll mix 1/2 cup shaken coconut milk, the zest and juice of one lime, and salt in a large bowl. Fold in sliced hearts of palm, diced bell pepper, thinly cut celery, cilantro, shallot, and as much seeded and chopped serrano chile as you desire. Make up to one day in advance, store in the fridge so everything can soak together, and let it come to room temperature before enjoying. Serve with tostones, tortilla chips, or another favorite crunchy item to dip.

For step-by-step instructions, check out this recipe for Fish-Free Ceviche.

How to Make Plant-Based Tuna Salad

Is it chicken or is it fish? In this plant-based tuna salad, the chicken of the sea becomes the chickpea of the sea, with garbanzos easily swapping in for canned tuna. If you want a slightly more luscious salad, you can also swap or mix in cannelloni beans.

To make plant-based tuna salad, start with a can of chickpeas, drain, add a spritz of fresh lemon juice and smash with a fork in a bowl, so that the chickpeas are broken up into tuna-like flakes. Add 2 tablespoons plant-based mayo (you can also swap in olive oil or smashed avocado for alternative fats), a tablespoon of capers, diced celery, and salt and pepper to taste. To add a more seafoody-flavor, consider seasoning with kelp flakes, which are harvested from sea plants and have a nice level of brininess or add some kelp pickles, nori, sea beans (which taste like the ocean!) or a spoonful of seafood salad to your finished plant-based tuna dish, like a sandwich.

How to Make Plant-Based Poke Bowls

You've seen it online and now you can make it in your kitchen—seedless watermelon is the perfect swap for raw tuna. And much more affordable too! A plant-based poke bowl comes together in less than an hour, and you can use your marinated watermelon slices or cubes in other sushi-style dishes, like rolling your own avocado watermelon maki or trying your hand at nigiri. But first, poke.

Start by whisking 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin, juice from one lime, 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari), 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger, 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (like sriracha), and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar in a large bowl. Gently fold in 3 cups of watermelon sliced into 1/2" cubes. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, you'll want to cook your sushi rice and get the rest of your toppings ready. The poke bowl adornments are up to you, but shelled edamame, matchstick carrots, and peppers, sliced or smashed cucumber, sliced avocado, shredded purple cabbage, shaved radish, or really anything crunchy, will work well. Pickle-y items, like ginger and jalapeños, and crunchy adornments like sesame seeds or nuts, can also be nice. To make a creamy sauce, mix ½ cup mayonnaise with 1½ tablespoons sriracha. This can also be a time to add some seafoody-flavor, such as with Barnacle Foods' kelp hot sauce.

Once the sushi rice has cooked, stir in 2 teaspoons sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar in a small bowl. Gently fold into cooked rice. Split into bowls and top with marinated watermelon and the toppings of your choice.

For step-by-step instructions, check out this recipe for Watermelon Poke Bowls.

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