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Jan 28, 2007 12:50 AM

Is there a way to replace the flavor of fish when cooking vegetarian?

I would like to find a way to replace the punch of anchovies in a recipe for Broccoli Rabe with anchovies. The Recipe also includes green olives which will add a nice brine quality. But I would like to know any tricks on replacing the flavor of the anchovies without using those cute little fish ( my girlfriends the vegeterian) but I am happily succumbing to her influence but have a hard time parting with the complexity meat adds to dishes. The recipe also calls for red wine and fontina cheese. One more farfetched question; anyway to replace the flavor of bacon, your probably laughing but I'm serious.

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  1. Morningstar Farms bacon has a great flavor. I use it as bacon and as flavoring. Their griller burgers, and sausage patties and links and hotdogs are very flavorful and well textured too.
    I have seen veggie fish replacements, i think at a little veggie chinese restaurant on a side street in West Newton, near the Irish bakery, but cant remember the name..

    1. Have you tried using kelp or other seaweeds? Many health food stores carry a variety of dried seaweeds, like nori, and besides being very good for you, I think a small amount would give the fishy/umami/briny flavor otherwise imparted by anchovies. Re: bacon, smoked paprika (found in specialty stores, often imported from Spain in small tins labelled "pimenton") is a great way to add a rich, smoky flavor to something like red beans or chili w/o the meat. I've found most soy-based bacon strips to be completely tasteless, very processed and with a texture like leathery paper. Fake "canadian bacon" (the round pink slices) often has a little more taste and a better texture. I've also used the loose "gimme lean" fake sausage meat to good effect; it works similar to Italian-style sausage or ground meat.

      1. I don't know if this would "REPLACE" the flavor of anchovies but I have seen recipes for caesar dressing that use, sorry about the spelling...I can barely pronounce it, worchessetire sauce. I have never tried it but, like I said I have seen it in recipes where folks where against using anchovies.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bolivianita

          Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, at least Lea & Perrins does. They're listed on the ingredients list.

          1. re: efdee

            You can get a vegetarian version of Worcestershire sauce at places like Whole Foods. I've attempted to use that in place of anchovies a few times. Not bad, but you need to account for the fact that anchovies are not a liquid and this is.

            I'm a vegetarian but I frequently cook for people who are not, tweaking recipes to make them either entirely vegetarian, who partly vegetarian, meaning my part is veg. and the others aren't. I'm not sure what step your anchovies get added in the broccoli rabe recipe but any chance that you can seperate the dish into two seperate servings at this time? I know it might seem ridiculous to make two seperate versions of recipes, but I've found that lots of times I can tweak the order in which I do things so that everything cooks together up until the final step, at which point I'll move my stuff out while I had the meat to the rest of the dish. Seriously, I'm not kidding with's easier than it sounds on many occasions (not every dish, but many). And, I guarantee you you'll score major points with your the vegetarian girfriend, friend, daughter, etc. this has scored major points with me.

            Oh, and I second the vote for Morningstar products, though I must say that the non-vegetarians in my life love the sausage patties and burger crumbles in recipes, but are a bit turned off by the bacon because of its smell. I think it's great, though! Good luck

            1. re: efdee

              You can use Picapeppa sauce instead.

          2. I know where the anchovies melt them in the olive oil. I'm veg but know the dish:) I've a Thai veg cookbook packed away...I'd probably try a shaker/sprinkle thing of Japanese seaweed; they have it in the Int'l section of Harris Teerer. As for Bacon, Morningstar sausage patties are amazing. For Bacon flavor I'd try the Veg Baco-bits I buy over at Weaver Street. Really very close!

            1. seaweed all the way!