The Surprising Ingredient That Makes Fake Fish Taste Real

First, we had lab-created Impossible beef, soon to be joined by plant-based "pork" sausage and Beyond Fried Chicken (brought to us by KFC). Meatless meat sales are booming, and yet, in one area, they continue to lag behind. To date, Long John Silver's has yet to introduce Impossible fried fish, nor has Popeye's added Beyond Butterfly Shrimp to their menu.

Jason Giordano, Vice President of Savory Development at ADM, says that his company is betting that that's all going to change in the near future. Although he admits that "alt-seafood products represent only about 1% of the plant-based meat market, he says that "consumer interest is growing rapidly as these products continue to improve and approach parity with traditional [seafood]." He speculates that the potential market for plant-based seafood products could include "consumers who love traditional seafood dishes but can't overcome the hurdles of all-family appeal, difficult preparation, cost, allergies or Kosher dietary restrictions" as well as "people who are concerned about sustainability issues such as overfishing, traceability, and marine pollution."

So, ok, good to know they're working on bringing us better alt-seafood options. As to how they intend to bring that distinctive fishy taste to whatever mysterious components make up plant-based proteins, well, it all hinges on one very surprising ingredient you might not believe: cabbage.

How cabbage can add that sea tang

As Giordano explains it, "Surprisingly, cabbage and related cruciferous vegetables (sometimes known as cole crops) are often relied upon to provide the mysterious flavor notes that help unlock complex culinary replications such as with plant-based seafood." He goes on to explain that the distinctive cabbage taste can be used in combination with textured soy proteins to create "mouthwatering vegan flavors, vegan food bases, and vegan flavor top-notes."

Another vegetable that could help make Impossible Fish a possibility would be peas. Giordano calls textured pea protein a potential "game-changer" when it comes to adding texture to plant-based seafood. What's more, he refers to the fact that peas tend to be less of an allergen than soy, saying, "Products using pea protein have an opportunity to break through for consumers who are looking for allergen-free protein options." So, cabbage + peas = decent fake fish? Who knows? But perhaps soon we'll all have the chance to find out.