Faux meat has come a long way from Tofurkey: Meatless, “bleeding” burgers and lab-grown chicken can be found on menus and in grocery store aisles across the country. Now, faux sushi is hitting the national market, too. It’s called Ahimi, and customers at Whole Foods Markets in New York and Los Angeles will be able to purchase the product in pre-made rolls, starting November 1.
The New York City-based company behind the faux fish product, Ocean Hugger Foods, is focused on providing alternative solutions to mitigate the effects of overfishing. Through a method CEO David Benzaquen describes only as the company’s secret “intellectual property,” processors remove the grassy, sweet, and slightly tart flavor from raw tomatoes. The resulting mass is then combined with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and filtered water; the process also creates a texture resembling the mouthfeel of raw tuna.
According to James Corwell, certified master chef and partner in Ocean Hugger Foods, “you’ll never be able to replicate the fat in tuna,” but Ahimi does taste a lot like sushi by design; paired with nori and sushi rice, it lacks tuna’s slick umami but otherwise has the same cool, muted flavor and dense texture. And as Corwell says, it replicates those flavors “without the fat, mercury, PCBs, and toxins” found in tuna.
Just as the Impossible Burger makes its way into new restaurants across the country, Ahimi — which has raised $600,000 in private investment to date — has found itself in the cafeterias at a handful of companies, including Google, Twitter, VMware, SAP, and LinkedIn, for now, with further expansion planned in partnership with Whole Foods.
For now, Whole Foods plans to use the product in sushi, offering a nigiri and roll combo for $11.99 and a California roll version for $8.99. Down the line, the store may offer a poke dish prepared with Ahimi. Ocean Hugger Foods has plans to add more sushi-inspired products to the mix, including eggplant-based unagi called unamiTM and a carrot-based salmon called sakimiTM.