Researchers at Oregon State University are working on a project that reduces the fat content in fried seafood using fish protein found in surimi. Surimi, refined fish proteins that can be made from a variety of species, is popularly used for fried dishes (fried surimi seafood) in Asian countries with a very low fat content (approximately 2%).
“After doing some initial tests with typical fried U.S. products like chicken nuggets and French fries, we saw that the fried surimi product was consistently low in fat,” said Jae Park, Professor at OSU’s Dept. of Food Science and Technology and OSU Seafood Research and Education Center (Astoria, Ore.). “We thought if it’s the fish protein that is minimizing the fat uptake, how can we use that on other fried seafood to get the same results?”
After two years of research, Park and his team have developed a fat blocker solution from surimi protein that has successfully reduced the fat content of fried shrimp.
“Typically when you fry chicken nuggets or fish, you get a fat content of about 16% and 10%, respectively,” said researcher Angee Hunt. “When we fried the breaded shrimp by coating it with our fat blocker solution, the treated shrimp had 15–20% less fat compared to untreated shrimp.”
The scientists believe that the fish protein creates a protective layer around the food to reduce the fat uptake and retain the moisture, without altering the taste or texture of the product. Through more work, the researchers hope to achieve their goal of reducing fat by 50% or more.