I’ve never actually had shrimp scampi, let alone vegan shrimp scampi, but it isn’t hard to figure out how to transform it. I didn’t grow up eating much fish or shellfish. Though my Jewish family wasn’t religious and didn’t keep Kosher, seafood was pretty much limited to gefilte fish, which I loathed, and lox for special occasions (see our easy vegan Carrot Lox!).
I did, on a few occasions, have shrimp before I went vegetarian, but that was such a long time ago that my memory of it is quite dim. I recall that it’s kind of rubbery, and doesn’t have much flavor.
So then, what motivated me to pick up a package of Sophie’s Kitchen ™ (a company that makes plant-based seafood alternatives) Coconut Breaded Shrimp, if nostalgia wasn’t involved? Mainly curiosity, and a desire to support companies that are developing products to replace those that have a catastrophic environmental and ethical footprint. More about that following the recipe box, if you’re interested.
I enjoyed the garlicky and lemony flavors of this veganized shrimp scampi. Because I try to incorporate vegetables to any main dish, I also added a spiralized zucchini. The plant-based shrimp started out breaded, but I think I jostled it too much in the preparation, causing the breading to fall off. That revealed more of the faux shrimp beneath, which for shrimp-lovers (or those who miss shrimp) could be a fun novelty.
I was a bit flabbergasted by how real it looks; though in my squeamish opinion, at least the plant-based shrimp doesn’t have those disgusting tails and legs and tentacles and whatnot.
Overall, I’m glad Sophie’s Kitchen is in the business of creating plant-based seafood products (this is NOT a sponsored post, BTW) to serve those looking for an alternative to the harmful practices of the seafood industry. Sophie’s Kitchen is one of several in our roundup on companies who produce plant-based seafood alternatives.
- 8 to 10 ounces spaghetti or linguine
- 1 medium zucchini, spiralized
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8- to 9-ounce package plant-based shrimp, breaded or unbreaded
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. When it’s nearly al dente, add the zucchini and cook just until the pasta is done, then drain.
- Heat half of the vegan butter in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden. Remove to a small plate or bowl.
- Heat the remaining vegan butter in the skillet. Add the shrimp and sauté over medium heat until well heated through and starting to turn golden, turning gently from time to time. Consult packaged directions as well, if need be, for specific instructions.
- Return the onion and garlic mixture to the skillet and add the lemon, wine, and parsley. Turn the heat up and cook for a minute or so, just until everything is nice and hot.
- Combine the pasta and zucchini with the shrimp mixture in a large serving bowl.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and mix gently and thoroughly. Serve at once.
Most well-stocked supermarkets carry fresh spiraled zucchini (aka zucchini noodles) in the produce section. Or, you can just finely dice a zucchini if you prefer.
The problems with shrimp — and why you shouldn’t eat it
The shrimp industry is an epic nightmare, rife with abuses of all kinds. It destroys delicate ocean ecosystems, causes a serious amount of bycatch. That’s the term used for other sea life (which can include Dolphins, turtles, and other fish) that’s inadvertently caught — and killed — in nets used for catching small fish and shellfish like shrimp.
Then, there’s the terrible not-so-secret practice of child labor and slavery that’s an intrinsic part of the industry worldwide.
From Serious Eats: Recent reports have shown it comes at enormous cost. The same farms that make bottomless shrimp baskets possible are also responsible for the devastation of ecosystems that are important for the entire globe, and the industry as a whole is rife with human rights abuses, like slavery, child labor, and murder.
From NPR’s The Salt: Thailand is the source of one-third of all shrimp imported by the United States. American retailers (and consumers) like it in part because it is cheap. Labor abuses at Thai shrimp factories and farms that export are well-documented. As PBS reported last year, Thai labor activists have documented abuses of Myanmarese migrant workers who work in the shrimp-peeling sheds that supply shrimp to larger factories for export to the U.S.