One of the Christmas traditions I honor every year involves my dad's side of the family (all eighty of us!) getting together on boxing day for a gift exchange, a potluck feast, and a lot of booze. This was Allysia's first year experiencing this debacle and my first year as a vegetarian, so when we were tasked with bringing an appetizer I wanted to make something to show off how vegan food doesn't have to be super different or weird. Enter: Vegan Shrimp Surprise Dip!
The non-vegan version of this dip is something that my mom has been making for special occasions since I was a kid. It is a delicious combination of tangy cocktail sauce, fresh veggies, cream cheese with shrimp sandwiched in the middle of it all. If we were going to make this familiar dish for my practically-carnivorous family, we would need a reasonably facsimile for shrimp. Luckily, I remembered spotting these in one of the local stores.
The story behind these beauties is an interesting one. The company's founders have a daughter named Sophie (hence the name Sophie's Kitchen) who loved seafood, but also happened to be allergic to it. With this in mind the parents developed a vegan alternative that looks and tastes like seafood without any of the animal products. Judging by the rate at which my family demolished the dish I'd say they succeeded on all counts.
With that said, let's get on with the recipe!
Vegan Shrimp Surprise Dip
1 tub vegan cream cheese (we used Tofutti brand)
1 package vegan shrimp or other seafood
1 jar spicy seafood cocktail sauce (or replace with homemade)
1 1/2 cups Daiya shredded vegan mozzarella
1/2 large green pepper, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Assortment of crackers (for serving)
1. Using a large spoon, scoop the vegan cream cheese into a 9-inch pie plate. Use the spoon to smooth the cream cheese out so it covers the bottom of the plate evenly. Sprinkle pepper over the cream cheese.
2. Take the vegan shrimp and dice them. The shrimp from Sophie's Kitchen are quite large, so I split them down the center and then cut them into pieces.
3. Spread the diced shrimp across cream cheese in a layer and then pour on the seafood cocktail sauce. Homemade cocktail sauce can be made using lemon juice, freshly grated horseradish, and vegan worcestershire sauce (lots of recipes can be found easily online), but I like the stronger "tang" of the store-bought stuff.
4. Cover the cocktail sauce with a layer of Daiya. Use more or less than stated if needed.
5. Cover the Daiya with the diced green pepper and tomato pieces. We garnished ours with a few leftover shrimp, just because.
The funny thing about garnishing the dish with two giant vegan prawns is that all of the omnivorous humans instantly rushed to grab and devour them, not even realizing their non-meaty nature. And there you have it! This semi-traditional dip was devoured by vegans and non-vegans alike, though the carnivorous family cat wasn't too impressed.
See you next time, internet.