Oceans of Inspiration

Culturally inseparable from its crunchy breaded or battered exterior, the default notion of calamari unfailingly involves deep frying. Even adventurous omnivores typically balk at the idea of eating naked squid, approximating both the look and chew of thick elastic rubber bands. That makes it delightfully easy to replicate in myraid plant-based forms; it’s hard to go too far wrong with anything crispy, still hot from a bubbling cauldron of oil, and lightly salted.

If you’re so lucky as to randomly find ready-made vegan calamari while idly shopping around Austin, TX, however, such a rare delicacy demands greater finesse for proper appreciation.

Yes, I’m that oddball who treats grocery stores like museums when traveling, with the added benefit of being able to eat the art if it resonates. Essentially seasoned rings of seitan, it would be easy enough to replicate on your own, but the novelty factor is what sold me. Stripped down and freed of breaded boundaries, the toothsome wheat spirals afforded me the opportunity (and inspiration) to consider a fresher, lighter side to this cruelty-free creation.

Gaining in popularity due to profusion of poke eateries opening up around the country, chuka ika sansai is a traditional Japanese salad made of thinly sliced squid and an assortment of tender vegetables, marinated in vinegar and ginger. Served as a side or a feature in rice bowls, the gently oceanic flavors satisfy a craving for seafood like nothing else.

Tomorrow, June 8th, is World Oceans Day. The importance that our oceans play in everyday life cannot be overstated, and yet rarely do we consider the greater implications of this fragile ecosystem. A vegan lifestyle is the best way to make a positive impact right away, everyday. With so many great alternatives, there really should be more fish in the sea, and fewer on the plate.

Yield: Makes 3 - 4 Servings

Chuka Ika Sansai (Japanese Vegan Squid Salad)

Chuka Ika Sansai (Japanese Vegan Squid Salad)
Delicate flavors of ginger and vinegar are the base for this plant-based calamari salad.
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 Ounces Vegan Calamari*
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Instant Wakame
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms
  • 1 Cup Sliced Bamboo Shoots
  • 2 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegan Fish Sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh, Finely Minced Ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1/8 - 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

  1. Place the vegan calamari, instant wakame, dried mushrooms, and bamboo shoots in a medium sauce pan and add water to cover. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, until the dried vegetables have rehydrated and the calamari is tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Toss with all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Adjust pepper to taste.

Notes

*If unavailable, use an equal amount of thinly sliced seitan, king oyster mushrooms, or hearts of palm.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 - 5 days.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 12g Cholesterol: 76mg Sodium: 611mg Carbohydrates: 19g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 2g Protein: 8g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

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7 thoughts on “Oceans of Inspiration

  1. Hiya Hannah! Love this delicious salad. We lived in Japan for awhile and so our pantry always has the basic ingredients but will have to look out for the vegan calamari. I have not seen this before. Take Care

    1. You can definitely make it without the specific brand of vegan calamari, too! I’m going to make it with good old wheat gluten (seitan) from here on out, since I can’t find the product out here, either.

    1. It’s definitely a fun find. Just a shame that they seems to have such limited distribution.

  2. Wow, vegan calamari! Yesterday we had here in Tel Aviv a huge VeganFest, and those would have been such a success there.

  3. Shut the front door! I grew up on calamari…well I grew up seeing it and sticking my nose up at it, and then just after I got old enough to eat it without feeling like I was eating spiders, I turned vegetarian and haven’t looked back since. I need this in my life. And honestly only for the childhood memory of it.

    1. Haha, I know the texture can be an issue for some! I feel like this product was slightly less “bouncy,” in a good way. I wish they had a greater distribution range!

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