Aquatic Ingredients Provide a New Wave of Opportunity
In the April 1998 Ingredients section entitled, “Discovering Treasures of the Deep,” we took a hypothetical submarine journey in search of new ingredients derived from marine sources from around the world. Since five years have passed, I thought we probably should make a second trip, this time exploring products from fresh and salt water.
I suspect that if we compare this trip to our maiden voyage, there will be some interesting differences observed along the way.
First, with the current emphasis on healthy foods and the subsequent development of nutraceutical products, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many of the aquatic ingredients that are making a splash today are being promoted for their potential health value, playing a possible role in fortifying or enriching a wide range of applications. While surfing on the Internet (I did not mean that as a pun), I came across a nutraceutical product made with a blend of 10 organic sea vegetables. I’m not sure how successful these products are, but their formulation does reflect the potential value that ingredients derived from the sea have. Furthermore, once unlocking the secrets of these ingredients, they have relevance in the formulating of health-promoting foods and beverages.
Second, I think we will be seeing a broader range of uses for these aquatic ingredients. For example, a few years ago when you thought of seaweed, most likely ingredients such as carrageenan and alginates came to mind. Today, seaweed may be used as a processing aid in the manufacture of beer. Or the marine plant may be extracted for its minerals such as calcium. Or it may be used in the formulation of nutraceutical products that have potential in reducing hypertension. The same is true for other treasures of the deep, such as fish gelatin, which is finding increasing use in nutraceutical products.
Third, technological developments combined with culinary expertise are helping traditional and not-so-traditional ingredients provide new opportunities in the marketplace. Fish may be raised that not only have sturdier attributes but also may be more decorative in appearance. Enzymes can help restructure applications, creating products that combine different seafoods. Spices and flavors representing different regions of the world are helping to transform or upscale familiar seafood dishes. And flavors are being developed through improved technologies that create even more authentic tastes of the sea.
Fourth, we’re seeing a growing emphasis on the individual components of ingredients. Over the years, our discussions have focused on fish oils, then omega-3s, then the precise ratios of the acids EPA and DHA. Ten years ago, we might have talked about shrimp, now we’re discussing chitosan, an interesting ingredient derived from the shells of shrimp and other shellfish. In the future, as our knowledge grows, there will probably be other ingredients derived from by-products of the sea as well, and this means an emphasis or renewed emphasis on different components.
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No matter how many differences—or for that matter similarities—between our two trips, one can still be sure that we will find a variety of surprises waiting for us over the next few pages. In fact, our first stop will not be in the middle of a deep ocean, but rather in an unlikely place: in the middle of the Midwest, in a tilapia-producing “greenhouse” operated by a major processor of soy, corn, and other grains.
From there, we’ll visit places like Norway, where the shells of shrimp produce an ingredient which may play a role in weight loss; Ireland, where a mineral concentrate is derived from seaweed; Japan, where a coral powder is produced that may have nutraceutical applications; and Australia where tuna oil, one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, is produced. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg—speaking of which, we’ll also be stopping off at Antarctica, where schools of krill provide oil high in omega-3s.
As usual, and perhaps more literal when considering our underwater situation, I will try to provide “in-depth” coverage of each of the ingredients that we will be seeing.
With that, it’s all aboard! I’m not so sure yet how we’re going to get to the farmlands of Illinois in a submarine, but I’ll do the best I can. And for those who don’t know what tilapia are, either bring a dictionary or pay close attention.
Farming tilapia in the Midwest
When thinking about Archer Daniels Midland, words such as “soy,” “corn,” “wheat,” and even “cocoa” immediately come to mind. For that reason, I was in for an unexpected experience when I learned, during a recent visit to the company’s facilities in Decatur, Ill., that the processor also “farms” tilapia, a freshwater fish that has a mild taste.
According to the company, more than 200 million lb of the fish was consumed by Americans last year. This increase in popularity has propelled the fish into the number 10 spot of the top ten aquatic foods consumed by Americans.
Representatives from ADM gave me a step-by-step tour of the company’s self-contained system for the controlled production of tilapia—from the egg to the plate. The process tries to duplicate what happens in nature, without the variable elements, of course.
More than two million tilapia are in production at any given time. All the fish that ADM markets are born in this greenhouse-resembling facility, which consists of breeding tanks, a hatchery and nursery area, a grow-out stage, and a shipping area. The water used contains no antibiotics of any kind.
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The fish are fed an all-vegetable diet—there is no animal protein in the meal they are given. I had the opportunity to witness a late afternoon snack: the feeding frenzy that resulted (make sure that you stay a safe distance from the tank, otherwise you’ll get very wet) reminded me of the classic movie Piranha. The fish are said to eat about 10% of their body weight per day. While breeding fish are said to grow to about 5 or 6 lb, market fish typically reach about a pound and a quarter.
Another interesting moment in the process was watching fish hatching from eggs. If you looked carefully through the walls of the tank, you could actually see little eyes and fins emerge—the miracle of creation. The eggs, by the way, are taken immediately from the female, then conditions are created, such as elevating temperatures or optimizing chemistry, that lead to the successful production of the tilapia. In one holding tank, there reportedly were about 100,000 little tilapia about eight weeks old swimming around.
In the breeding tank, there is said to be three girls for every guy—a ratio that works very well if you’re talking about the love life of tilapia. Crossing the darker-colored female with the lighter-colored male is said to produce a faster-growing, cold-water-tolerant fish.
In the finishing or grow-out area, the tilapia are now about 11 weeks old and three inches long. There are about 15,000 fish stocked in each tank. They stay in this area for about seven months until they reach market size.
When the fish are ready for the market, a truck is backed into the building, a conveyor is dropped into the tank, the fish are conveyed up into the truck and out the door, and they are delivered alive in oxygenated water to their different destinations. Markets include Chicago, New York, Toronto, San Antonio, Phoenix, and other places.
The ADM representative noted that the company is currently exploring production of what he called “ornamental tilapia” for an upscale or more expensive product.
In addition to raising tilapia, ADM’s facility is involved in hydroponics—the farming of produce without soil.
ADM is known as a leading processor of soybeans, corn, wheat, and other products, as well as an innovative developer of ingredients and nutraceuticals derived from such grains. However, although its tilapia production facility has been in existence for a while, I don’t think it has received adequate media exposure in the industry. Hopefully, this story will help shed some valuable light on a well-kept secret, because tilapia offers potential benefits in the areas of health, culinary dishes, and future ingredient development. For example, try to imagine a tilapia dish combined with a soy-based side entree, or perhaps tilapia used as an ingredient in a corn-based chowder.
For more information about tilapia farming, contact Archer Daniels Midland Co., 4666 Faeries Pkwy., P.O. Box 1470, Decatur, IL 62525 (phone 217-424-5200).
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Marine ingredients have application in beer
Two new ingredients derived from marine sources have been developed for the brewing industry by DSM Food Specialties, A Fleminglaan 1, 2613 AX Delft, The Netherlands (phone 31-15-279-23-55; fax 31-15-279-32-00; www.dsm.com).
A purified, standardized seaweed extract, marketed under the name Maxafloc™, may be used as a wort fining agent. According to the manufacturer, the ingredient improves wort separation and increases wort recovery while helping in the precipitation of copper and iron from the boiling wort. It also shortens boiling time in the kettle and fermentation; improves the clarity of wort and beer; and increases the beer’s colloidal stability by removal of haze-forming proteins and beta-glucans. An additional benefit is the reduced frequency of cleaning of the heat exchangers.
A free-flowing powder derived from collagen—called Maxafine™—may be used to accelerate the sedimentation of yeast and protein during maturation in the brewing process. By accelerating the sedimentation of yeast and protein, the ingredient reduces beer haze in the maturation vessel and shortens maturation time. It also improves beer filtration efficiency and reduces beer losses in maturation. Other benefits of the ingredient include a reduction in the dosage of filter aids and an improvement in beer colloidal stability.
Both ingredients are classified as processing aids.
Seaweed has antihypertensive, mineral potential
Seaweed has been a dietary staple in Japan and China for centuries. Both cultures have attributed a number of health benefits to the marine-derived ingredient. Although I don’t expect the typical Midwesterner to be consuming dishes such as steak and seaweed or scrambled eggs and algae in the near future (possibly tilapia would be a good accompaniment with these dishes, however), I do think that seaweed does offer a number of potential benefits that other parts of the world have recognized, and as a result its potential value should be more closely examined.
To do this, let’s visit several different places around the world.
• First, we’re off to Ireland. A mineral concentrate derived from small red seaweed Lithothamnium harvested off the southwest coast of Ireland is available from Marigot Ltd., Strand Farm, Currabinny, Carrigaline, Co. Cork, Ireland (phone 353-21-378727; fax 353-21-378588). Called AquaMin, the powdered product is neutral in taste, offering a variety of essential nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.
The convenient product has excellent bioavailability and may be used to fortify a range of foods and beverages, such as fruit juices and spreads, dairy-based products, soy-based desserts and yogurts, confections, and cereal-based products. The ingredient is available in different grades suitable for food applications: AquaMin F, a very fine powder with a calcium content of 31–34%, and AquaMin TG, which has been agglomerated to enhance its flow characteristics and direct compression properties and which has a calcium content of 30–32%.
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Most recently, another grade has been developed: AquaMin S, an acid-soluble version which allows food manufacturers to add calcium to low-pH systems while maintaining the quality and taste of the product.
• Our next stop is to the Land of the Rising Sun. A Japanese seaweed (kombu) which has potential for treating thyroid disease and lowering blood pressure is available from Orcas International, Inc., 230 Rte. 206, Building 4, Ste. 3, Flanders, NJ 07836 (phone 973-252-7100; fax 973-252-7104; www.orcas-intl.com).
In Japan, kombu is used in the preparation of fish, meat dishes, and soups, and as a vegetable with rice. The ingredient, in a powdered form, has application in sauces and soups, or may be added to rice in the same way, for example, as curry might be. Some kinds of kombu are used in making an infusion similar to tea.
Kombu contains a number of components which may have healthy properties. For example, it contains high levels of organic iodine (for treating thyroid disease); algin (for providing strong blood anticoagulant activity and reducing blood pressure); a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium and potassium; and dietary fiber.
The sweetness of kombu is imparted by mannitol, which is sometimes extracted from the seaweed and may be used as a sweetener in foods developed for diabetics.
• A kelp, known as wakame in Japan, also offers potential beneficial properties. This product, a traditional Japanese favorite that is increasing in popularity because of its vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, is available in a dried form from Riken Vitamin Co., Ltd., 800 E. Northwest Highway, Ste. 724, Palatine, IL 60074 (phone 847-777-6960; fax 847-705-7074). The product, which has a mild flavor and is easy to use, is promoted by the company as having anti-hypertension properties.
• A fresh-water, single-celled green algae (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) offering health benefits is used in the formulation of a nutritional supplement available from Sun Chlorella USA, 3914 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503 (phone 800-829-2828; www.sunchlorellausa.com).
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The algae is reportedly rich in protein, chlorophyll, and vitamins and minerals, including carotenoids and antioxidants. According to the manufacturer, these components can provide a number of health advantages, including detoxification properties, escalated energy levels, reduction of blood pressure, and treatment of gum disease. Furthermore, a component contained within the nucleus of the chlorella plant, a nucleotide–peptide complex, has been shown to accelerate cell growth and division, stimulate the body’s natural immunity, and promote healing.
Chorella has a tough, fibrous cell wall which makes it difficult to digest. However, the manufacturer uses a process (called Dyno®-Mill) which breaks down the cell wall naturally, allowing the fiber in the cell wall to performs its benefits in the digestive tract and helping maximum assimilation of its other healthy nutrients.
The supplement is available in tablet, granule, or liquid forms. Chlorella has been used as a health food in Japan, and because of the emerging nutraceutical market, may have increasing potential in the United States.
Oils from marine sources offer health benefits
Studies have shown that fish oils high in omega-3 fatty acids, principally docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), may provide a number of benefits in the areas of cardiovascular health, brain development, joint health, asthma, and even mental disorders such as depression.
Let’s look at several products in the marketplace and the advantages they offer:
• A variety of systems for delivering tuna oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids (Hi-DHA™) is available from Clover Corp., Ltd., P.O. Box 458 N., Sydney 2060, Australia (phone 61-2-9956-8200; fax 61-2-9956-7696; www.clovercorp.com.au). Tuna oil is reportedly one of the richest sources of DHA.
The company recently introduced for the baking, food, and nutritional markets a spray-dried powder containing 50% tuna oil in a stable and protected microencapsulated form. Called Driphorm 50, the functional food ingredient can either be dry-blended, reconstituted as a stable emulsion, or added directly to wet food products. Applications for the encapsulated oils may include infant formula, breads and other baked goods, and dairy products.
Another product available from the company is Gelphorm Hi-DHA™, a gel which may be used in yogurts, drinks, soups, and ice creams. In Australia and New Zealand, the product is undergoing stability trials in applications such as processed cheeses and UHT milk.
In a related story, the company has licensed its first-generation microencapsulation technology (Driphorm 25) to U.S.-based Martek Biosciences Corp. Under the agreement, Clover also agreed to contract manufacture Martek’s DHA and ARA oils, establishing an additional market in the U.S.
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Exclusive North American representative of the company’s products is Hauser, Inc., Functional Food Ingredients, 70 W. 36th St., Ste. 600, New York, NY 10018 (phone 212-643-2310; fax 212-643-2316; www.hi-dha.com).
• A stable krill oil high in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), phospholipids, antioxidants (especially vitamins A and E), and peptides has been developed by Neptune Technologies and Bioresources, 500 St-Martin Blvd. West, Ste. 550, Laval, Quebec, Canada H7M 3Y2 (phone 450-972-6291; fax 450-972-6351; www.neptunebiotech.com).
Krill are small shrimp-like crustaceans that inhabit the waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island, Russia, Japan, and Antarctica. The most dominant species is Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), from which the company, using a cold-extraction process, produces its stable Neptune Krill Oil, a product that may offer a variety of health benefits.
Although the exact mechanism of action of the ingredient is still currently being studied, it is the synergy of its multiple bioactive components that provides its health properties. For example, ongoing clinical trials are suggesting that the product may help reduce cholesterol and manage hyperlipidemia and arteriosclerosis; may help provide symptomatic control of inflammation due to arthritis; minimize the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome; and protect against ultraviolet B rays and skin cancer.
Furthermore, according to the manufacturer, because of the high antioxidant potency of the pigments and flavonoids found in the oil, research is underway to evaluate the preventive role that the ingredient may have in relation to the expression of genes that control cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, and malignancy.
Copies of these studies and more information about the potential benefits of the oil may be obtained from the product’s distributor, CPB International, Inc., 21 Union Valley Rd., Newfoundland, NJ 07435 (phone 973-208-6288; fax 973-208-6290).
• Fish oil concentrates, formulated to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA and EPA), are marketed under the name Marinol™ by Loders Croklaan, Lipid Nutrition, 24708 W. Durkee Rd., Channahhon, IL 60410-5249 (phone 815-730-5200; fax 815-730-5202; www.lipidnutrition.com). The products, which offer opportunities for enrichment of omega-3 fatty acids via dietary supplements or functional foods, are available in different delivery forms, including encapsulated in soft gels, in powders, and as bulk oil in drums.
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According to the manufacturer, the glyceride form of these fish oil concentrates can particularly have application in functional foods, medical foods, enteral foods, and infant nutrition.
• Fish oil produced from menhaden, a herring-like fish, is marketed under the name OmegaPure™ by Omega Protein, 1717 St. James Place, Ste. 550, Houston, TX 77056 (phone 713-623-0060; fax 713-940-6122; www.omegapure.com). Providing long-chain essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA), the product leaves no aftertaste and is said to be ultra stable. FDA has approved it as a direct GRAS ingredient in several food categories. However, additional categories are now being considered for approval by FDA. These categories include quick breads, nonalcoholic beverages, chewing gum, confections and frostings, dairy product analogs, gelatins and puddings, sugar substitutes, and many others.
• Various EPA/DHA powders under the brand name Vana/Sana have been introduced by Kievit, P.O. Box 189, 7940 AD Meppel, The Netherlands (phone 31-522-238138; fax 31-522-238100; www.kievit.com).
The company also offers microencapsulated omega-3 and 50% natural fish oil concentrate in powder form.
Duplicating the fresh-taste characteristics of seafood
Remember when you were a kid and you pressed your ear against a shell and heard a sound that reminded you of the sea? In a similar fashion, flavors today are being created that reportedly provide the authentic flavor profiles of foods derived from the sea, providing the processor with advantages such as convenience, consistency, safety, and, of course, authentic flavor profiles of a broad range of creatures from the deep.
Here are some examples:
• A range of seafood extracts, marketed under the name Marinextracts, are available from Activ International, Inc., 4005 20th Ave. W., Ste. 220, Seattle, WA 98199 (phone 206-378-0669; fax 206-262-9311; www.activ.fr). Obtained by hydrolysis of seafood followed by concentration, the natural extracts are said to give the characteristic fresh taste of sea-food.
Offered in paste and powdered forms, the extracts include crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, salmon, clam, and scallops. They may be used as a natural base for the composition and flavoring of such products as soups, sauces, terrines, and ready-to-eat dishes.
In addition to these extracts, the company produces a variety of other ingredients derived from marine sources. These may include fish and shellfish, culinary bases, aromatic compositions, flavors, frozen pulps, and a wide range of natural colors and processed colorings especially adapted for the seafood industry and which may be used in surimi seafoods, salmon burgers, cooked shrimp, and a variety of other products.
Furthermore, the company recently developed an experimental laboratory for the testing of surimi in Europe. According to the company, the laboratory allows for flavorings, colorings, and raw materials used in the production of surimi/flavored fish sticks to be tested.
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• A line of seafood flavors marketed under the name SavorySelect® are available from McCormick Flavors, McCormick & Co., Inc., 226 Schilling Circle, Hunt Valley, MD 21031 (phone 410-771-7525; www.mccormickflavor.com). The flavors, which are said to add the taste of freshly caught seafood to a variety of foods, include Natural & Artificial Clam, Natural & Artificial Crab, Natural & Artificial Fish, Natural & Artificial Lobster, and Natural Shrimp Flavor WONF. These flavors are all available in a dry form and may be used in soups, chowders, dips, sauces, marinades, snack seasonings, rice and stuffing side dishes, and main meal entrees.
• A leading European producer of natural seafood extracts, Bjorge Biomarin AS, was recently acquired by Firmenich Inc. The acquisition will reportedly provide the flavor and fragrance company with first-hand access to natural seafood extracts, contributing significantly to the range of natural ingredients currently available to its flavorists. According to the company’s CEO, “the pooling of technical expertise and resources will further strengthen our culinary application capabilities to meet the demands of consumers worldwide.” For more information, write to Firmenich Inc., 250 Plainsboro Rd., Plainsboro, NJ 08536 (phone 609-452-1000; fax 609-452-6077; www.firmenich.com.)
• A line of natural seafood flavors was recently introduced to the North American market by the Japanese company Senmi Ekisu Co. Ltd., a partner with Mitsubishi International Corp. The full line of flavors are said to impart not only a rich taste and aroma, but also function as water-retention agents. For more information about these seafood flavors, write to Mitsubishi International Corp., 520 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022 (phone 212-605-2408; fax 212-605-1810).
• Seafood extract powders, including clam, smoked fish, lobster, crab, tuna, oyster, and shrimp, are featured by Nikkken Foods, 1820 S. Third St., St. Louis, MO 63104 (phone 502-292-3285; fax 502-292-3283). The powders may be used alone or in combination to enhance the flavor of the finished product.
Flavors help transform traditional seafood dishes
Not surprisingly, the increasing emergence of Hispanic foods and Pan Asian cuisines into the mainstream, as well as a desire for exciting flavor/spice combinations and textures and an interest in healthy eating, are all having an impact in the area of seafoods. A wide range of flavors and coatings are being developed that can help transform traditional dishes, upscaling them, giving them a new twist, or helping to differentiate them in the marketplace. For example, Red Lobster recently served a Teriyaki Glazed Fish, served with island salsa. The grilled fish was basted with a tangy citrus and ginger teriyaki glaze and served with a cool pineapple–mango salsa.
Here are some of the most recent developments in flavors and coatings that have a definite potential:
• A variety of batter and breading options for providing fried shrimp with flavor and a crunchy texture is available from Southeastern Mills, Inc., P.O. Box 908, Rome, GA 30162 (phone 706-291-6528; fax 706-295-5411).
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A wide range of shrimp coating systems have been developed for fryer or oven reconstitution. The system used depends on the customer’s specific needs: for example, lightly breaded shrimp are suitable for appetizers or Asian dishes, while a heavier breading pickup or tempura batter is applicable for shrimp baskets, sandwiches, and other heartier foods. In addition, the company can customize formulations which can help differentiate the product in the marketplace.
Among the systems offered by the company include Lightly Breaded Creole Shrimp, a light, crispy coating featuring the flavors of black and red pepper, tomatoes, onion, and garlic; Salsalita Breaded Shrimp, a crunchy, salsa-inspired system combining tomatoes, lime, and jalapeño in a flavorful but not too spicy coating; Mexican Biscuit Shrimp, a special coating (inspired by the company’s Southern-Style Biscuit Mix) which provides a tender, biscuit-like tempura batter complemented with cumin, red pepper, and oregano; and Tortilla Bread Shrimp with Flavorettes, a crunchy, mildly spicy corn chip breading whose visual appeal and taste is enhanced by multi-colored particulates (flavorettes). Samples of these systems can be requested from the company.
• Everyone has probably heard of the phrase, “Packed like sardines.” Well, that phrase probably should be amended to “Nutritionally and flavorfully packed . . . like sardines.” Recently, the simple sardine may be getting a new makeover in terms of appearance and flavor—one that might upscale the product into the category of a gourmet delicacy while providing the consumer with its traditional nutritional benefits.
Bela-Olhao sardines (Waldbaum species), imported from Portugal, are packed in olive oil that has been infused with a variety of delicate flavorings such as lemon or piri piri, a local hot pepper. The product is offered in six varieties, including lemon sauce, tomato sauce, olive oil, hot sauce, and soybean oil, as well as a skinless, boneless type in olive oil.
Furthermore, according to the manufacturer, the fresh canned sardines are bright, silvery, and shiny; do not smell fishy; and may be used in a variety of recipes, including pasta salads, stuffed potatoes, teriyaki style, and hors d’oeuvre.
A low-fat source of protein, sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids and contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, and B-complex vitamins. A single 3.25-oz serving of sardines reportedly provides 20% of the daily value for calcium and 12% of the daily value for iron.
The fresh-canned sardines are imported and distributed by Blue Galleon, 260 Boston Post Rd., Wayland, MA 01778 (phone 866-469-2352; fax 508-401-0008; www.mybela.com). The brand is nationally distributed in natural food stores, grocery stores, and specialty food shops.
• Sauces, seasonings, and coatings for seafood applications that reflect Pan Asian cuisines are being developed by Griffith Laboratories, One Griffith Center, Alsip, IL 60803-3495 (phone 708-371-0900; fax 708-371-0900; www.griffithlabs.com).
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Pan Asian is described as the confluence of Asian (especially countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia) and Western flavors. It is said to be marked by aromatic ingredients such as ginger and sesame, the spiciness of sweet and hot pepper, along with the simplicity of roasted or grilled meats and seafoods. The result is a range of ingredients in mainstream applications that can be added to various menus, and that provide flexibility to the chef.
One example of a formulation is Pan Asian Crusted Salmon, which has a crunchy Pan Asian-style breading with subtle notes of lemongrass, chili, coriander, toasted sesame, and soy sauce.
Another example is Miso Crab Rangoon Appetizer, consisting of cream cheese, a miso base, and chopped surimi crab as the filling, with miso breading and a glaze.
• No, there is no such thing as a wild crabster. However, a Maine lobster product stuffed with crab or shrimp has been recently introduced into the market by IceBrand Foods, Inc., 92 Waldron Way, Portland, ME 04103 (phone 207-797-2850; fax 207-797-9405).
Called Lobster Splitz™, the stuffed Maine lobster product was developed as an alternative to traditional steamed lobsters for foodservice and retailers. The combination of lobster with crabmeat or shrimp filling creates a flavorful combination as well as some interesting textures.
Still, I would have like to have seen a wild crabster or even a lobshrimp outside our portal. Such a creature would probably have made for an interesting ingredient.
Shrimp-derived chitosan reels in applications
Food-grade chitosan, produced from shells of fresh Norwegian Pandalus borealis shrimp, is marketed under the name ChitoClear™ by Primex Ingredients ASA, 800 Third Ave., 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10022 (phone 800-221-9011; fax 212-588-1589). The shrimp-derived product has self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe status, allowing it to be used in the U.S. as a food ingredient, in addition to its current use as a dietary supplement ingredient.
Chitosan is a nontoxic, soluble product derived from the polysaccharide chitin, found in the shells or exoskeletons of shrimp, crab, and other shellfish. According to the manufacturer, it offers a number of functionality and health benefits as a food and beverage additive.
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As a hydrocolloid, it may be used as a thickener, an emulsifier, a gelling substance, and a coating. As a preservative, its antimicrobial effects have been utilized in meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables. It may be used as a clarifying solution in the processing of beverages, and its moisture retention property makes it suitable in foods that call for a slow release of flavor and aroma.
Recent research is demonstrating the benefits of chitosan in nutraceutical food formulations, where it plays several key beneficial roles, including cholesterol reduction and dietary lipid binding. Because chitosan has a lipid-absorbing ability, its addition to snack foods such as potato chips, bread sticks, and biscuits may reduce the bioavailable calories. Furthermore, studies have shown that chitosan may reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as help in weight loss.
The manufacturer is reportedly the leading European producer of chitosan and has three manufacturing sites along the coast of Norway. The company is offering premium food-grade chitosan products in the U.S., including more than 95% deacetylation.
Enzyme has application in seafood products
An enzyme with the ability to cross-link proteins may be used in seafood applications to add value to trim, improve portion control, provide texture modification, and improve raw handling of restructured products. The enzyme, a transglutaminase marketed under the name Activa™ TG, is available from Ajinomoto USA, Inc., Country Club Plaza, West 115 Century Rd., Paramus, NJ 07652 (phone 201-261-1789; fax 201-261-6871).
According to the manufacturer, the enzyme cross-links proteins through the formation of covalent bonds. The two amino acids that it uses to cross-link are glutamine and lysine. Any protein or combination of proteins that contains a sufficient amount of these two amino acids may be effectively cross-linked. The enzyme is active over a broad temperature range and a fairly wide pH range.
The enzyme may be used to restructure such products as fish, scallops, shrimp, calamari, clams, and surimi. Furthermore, for marketers interested in creating innovative combination products, the enzyme may be ideal. For example, fish of different color and texture can be joined to create novel products with texture and eating characteristics that make them appear to be naturally produced.
With developments like these, maybe it’s possible to create a crabster after all.
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Edible-grade gelatins come from aquatic sources
A range of fish gelatins, produced by England-based Croda Colloids Ltd., have application in hard- or soft-shell gelatin capsules, microencapsulation, tablet binding and coating, and functional foods. Made from naturally occurring collagen present in cold- and warm-water fish skins using an acid extraction process, the products are purified and concentrated sources of protein.
Although fish gelatins are not new, they may be an emerging ingredient for a number of reasons. First, they offer an alternative to other (animal) sources of gelatin. Second, they are available in kosher grades suitable for Passover as well as Halal grades. Third, they offer a variety of functionality advantages: their light-colored gels are neutral in taste, have low odor, and offer a range of Bloom gel strengths. Fourth, with trends reflecting the continued promotion of health, fish gelatins may be recommended for a number of pharmaceutical and nutritional applications. In fact, it is interesting to note that some new patents describe nutraceutical products using fish gelatins. Their functionality underscores their effectiveness as suitable delivery systems for future products in the areas of health.
Fish gelatins produced by Croda are distributed by The O.C. Lugo Co., Inc., 321 Main St., New York City, NY 10956 (phone 845-708-7080; fax 845-708-7081).
Coral-derived powder can fortify foods with minerals
Coral powder (also known as coral sand) for fortifying processed foods with calcium, magnesium, and other minerals is available from Marine Bio Co., Ltd., 7F Ikeda Bldg., 1 Kita-Norimono-cho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101 Japan (phone 03-3252-6351; fax 03-3252-6355; www.marine-bio.co.jp).
Composed primarily of the shells and skeletons of reef-building coral found in waters off semi-tropical Okinawa, the powdered product contains approximately 35% calcium, 2% magnesium, and other essential minerals. According to the manufacturer, the yellowish-brown powder is tasteless and odorless.
In addition to fortifying foods, the product may be used as a nutritional supplement.
Acquisitions may have impact on marine ingredients
A producer of DHA-rich algal oil (DHA Gold®), Omega Tech, Inc., was recently acquired by Martek BioSciences Corp. Martek is an innovator in the research and development of DHA for use in functional foods, infant formula, dietary supplements, and other health products. The company will reportedly focus primarily on the food industry. For more information, write to Martek BioSciences Boulder Corp., 4909 Nautilus Court North, Ste. 208, Boulder, CO 80301 (phone 303-381-8100; fax 303-381-8181; www.martekbio.com).
A taste-free long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid marine oil for food applications is manufactured by Roche Vitamins Inc. Recently, the division was acquired by DSM and will become a unit of the company.
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Final stop is worth its salt
Before we finish our journey, I would like to make one more stop and look at an ingredient that we probably take for granted. It’s not new, it has been used for a long time, but it has played—and continues to play—a key role in food formulating. Its inherent characteristics allow a wide range of functional applications within the food industry—there are more than 14,000 known uses for it. It has been used as a flavor enhancer, it improves the texture and color of products, and it serves as a preservative.
I’m talking, of course, about salt, and in particular, sea salt.
It began this article talking about farming tilapia. And, in a sense, sea salt is also farmed, using a solar evaporation technique. Salt water is captured in shallow ponds and allowed to evaporate by means of the sun and wind. During the process, a salt bed forms on the bottom of the pond. The salt is harvested, washed, screened, and packaged. The typical crop takes one to five years to produce.
One of the leading producers of sea salt is Cargill Salt, P.O. Box 5621, Minneapolis, MN 55440 (phone 1-888-358-7258; www.cargillsalt.com).
Two of its products—California Sea Salt and California Sea Salt Extra Coarse Topping—are intended for topping pretzels, crackers, and wafers. They are commonly used in tomato processing and in many other general food processing applications.
Because of technology and communication advances, the world has grown smaller. Not surprisingly, the waterways have also grown smaller. Research developments throughout the world are spreading more quickly. Flavors from different parts of the world are being assimilated into the mainstream. And acquisitions are helping to combine the scientific efforts in different parts of the world. All of these developments—or ripples, if you will—are having a major impact on the ingredients that we have seen on our journey over the past few pages.
We have traveled—if only figuratively—to many different spots all over the globe, and this time we have uncovered such secret treasures of the deep (or not so deep) as fresh-water tilapia, antihypertensive sea-weed, and calcium-providing coral. I think we have seen the number of potential opportunities that these and other such ingredients offer.
But hopefully there are still many more ingredient treasures left to be found.
And they’ll be waiting for us on our next journey.
In the meantime, it’s time to surface and for me to say, “Land Ho!”
by DONALD E. PSZCZOLA
Senior Associate Editor
Register online for the 2003 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo. Register at www.am-fe.ift.org
Next month, ingredient developments will be highlighted in the 2003 IFT Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO® Preview.