Vegan food has come a long way. From realistic faux beef patties to vegan seafood, imitation animal products keep getting better. This is why when I read about Trader Joe’s new plant-based Vegan Salmonesque Spread at VegNews, I thought it would be well worth giving it a shot, to see if it was any good.
The vegan salmon dip is flavored with capers and dill, and is mainly made of vegan cream cheese, vegan mayo, and flecks of soy-based imitation smoked salmon.
I’m pretty familiar with plant-based red meat. I’ve had a ton of Impossible and Beyond burgers, both of which I like perfectly well, and eat on a semi-regular basis when I catch either on sale. But vegan seafood substitutes are relatively new territory for me, so I was extra-interested to see how I’d feel about vegan smoked salmon.
I am delighted to say that Trader Joe’s Salmonesque dip is good—great, even. It’s creamy, gently smoky, and honest-to-God tastes like real smoked salmon dip, since it captures that smoke essence so well. While the flakes of soy-based salmon aren’t super noticeable on their own, I don’t think they’re the point. The real point is to catch the vibe of smoked salmon dip, which this product does admirably.
One thing I did notice was that the dip is pretty tart. The noticeable sourness in it means it reads a little more like a Greek yogurt-based dip than a cream cheese one, but that’s certainly not a knock. Maybe it’s a mental thing, but that yogurt-like flavor made the dip feel somewhat lighter overall. This is good in a way, because regular smoked salmon dip can be pretty heavy (rich oily fish, fat-heavy dairy, and mayo will do that to you).
I could definitely see this included as part of a vegan spread at a party. Hell, non-vegan people probably wouldn’t notice that it isn’t real salmon if you didn’t tell them. I dipped pita chips into it, but any crudité veggies would work just as well, if not better, since they’d add a crisp and cool element to each bite. I think it’d be great on a bagel sandwich as well, along with some red onions, tomatoes, and cucumber to create a mock lox sandwich.
At $4.29 for an eight ounce tub, it’s definitely worth purchasing if you’re interested in trying it out yourself, especially if you enjoy creamy, smoky, and tart flavors when it comes to your dip. It’s also one of those small things you can enjoy to chip away at small bits of your animal-based consumption. Now please excuse me while I go toast a bagel.