Sometimes I get excited about reviewing a new plant-based product, but when it arrives, I’m not sure what to do with it. Such was the case with Current Foods, a new faux fish. The directions said, “Current Foods products are ready-to-eat and best served chilled. Our seafood made from plants plays well with any dish that you would use high-quality fish for.”
But as someone who’s been vegetarian since childhood, I don’t remember ever eating any high-quality fish. When I stopped eating critters, my sophistication was about at the level of fish and chips or shrimp cocktails in little glasses. Did Current Foods really expect me to eat pink gelatinous cubes straight out of a pouch? My husband didn’t help matters by making a face and saying, “Vegan seafood?!” Still, as a vegan journalist devoted to reducing animal suffering, I bravely set out to investigate this new product.
So, what the heck is Current Foods?
I sampled the original flavor of Current Tuna. The top three ingredients are listed as water, pea protein and high-oleic sunflower oil. The tuna takes its texture from bamboo and potato, and its color from radish and tomato. The peas supply protein and a touch of algae lends an ocean flavor. The 8.8 ounces pouch contains 4.5 2/3 cup servings (anybody else confused by how 8.8 ounces can provide that many 2/3 cup servings?) of 50 calories each. A serving contains 40% of your daily B12 and 25% of your iron, both of which are very helpful for vegans. You only get two grams of protein per serving.
Taste testing the Current Tuna
With a deadline looming, I decided to spring an alt fish dish on my unsuspecting July Fourth holiday dinner guests. I set out to adapt this classic ceviche recipe from Food & Wine, which begins with soaking the tuna cubes in lime juice and chopped onion for four hours.
But first, I wanted to try an unlimed cube on the household expert. My household consists of a vegan, a vegetarian, an omnivore and a (mostly) carnivore. Lucifer, the black cat, is our resident expert on seafood. I was very curious to see if Current Foods would fool him. I set a tuna cube beside him in his catio. He sniffed. He ignored. Verdict: not tuna.
More surprisingly, my dog Rudy snubbed the cube. And Rudy eats almost anything, occasionally even things that aren’t food. This made me a little nervous about how my dinner guests would receive the ceviche.
Fortunately, the lime juice improved the taste of the faux fish. I added the other ingredients — chopped tomato, olives, cilantro, avocado, a little orange juice — and all the humans present agreed it was good. My guest who is mostly vegetarian but occasionally eats fish said it just tasted like a pickled vegetable to her. My husband, who is now vegetarian but has eaten tuna more recently than I have, said the ceviche tasted like ceviche without a fish flavor, and that the faux tuna was like “tasteless chunks.” But not in a bad way.
It’s safe to say that for my household, the alt fish was a pleasant enough but underwhelming experience. However, judging from testimonials on Current Foods’ website, many vegans and chefs are raving about how great it is in poke bowls and sushi. And Time named the faux fish one of the best inventions of 2021. Still, I’m skeptical whether it will catch on with the majority of folks who love to eat fish.
Try this vegan fish for yourself
Current Foods is still very new. The company started its research and development in 2019 and launched in 2021. It’s not yet widely available to the public, but some chefs are using it in poke joints and sushi bars around the U.S. The store finder tool on the Current Foods website drew a blank for my area of Oregon.
If you want to try the faux tuna, your best bet is probably preordering off the company’s website. You can choose from original tuna cubes or original tuna filets. Three 8.8 ounces package of either cost $40. For $50, you can get four packs of either cubes or filet, or select a hybrid pack with two of each. Does that price sound a little high to anybody else?
The company is currently developing other flavors, such as roasted sesame, yuzu chipotle and ginger tamarind tuna. Faux salmon is also in the works and consumers will eventually be able to choose from original smoked or smoked black pepper.
Photography by Teresa Bergen and via Pexels
Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Current Foods. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.