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Surimi, a fish substitute, pros and cons of its use in cooking

25 mayo, 2021

It’s been a few years since these curious somewhat insipid bars appeared on the market, the surimi, which were initially advertised as crab sticks, although as we will see they are far from it. It is actually a japanese invention with thousands of years, coming from the practice of the Japanese fishermen to take advantage of the remains of fish or species with little commercial outlet to elaborate what in principle was called kamaboko.

From the 70s on, the consumption and production of surimi soared. East “Minced fish muscle”, which is what its name means, has been so successful that it is already consumed all over the world, whether in salads, soups, rice, etc. Its flavor is supposed to emulate crab meat, but high amounts of Salt, some of fats, colorants, emulsifiers and preservatives, all authorized, of course.

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The provenance of the fish paste used is uncertain. Participate many species such as Alaska pollock, flounder, croaker, Japanese moray eel, hoki (from New Zealand), cod, mackerel and hake, the remains of which, once well washed and clean of skin or bones, are dehydrated and later converted into a gel to Flavorings such as monosodium glutamate, preservatives such as ascorbic acid, salt, colorants, binders, polyphosphates and a long list of ingredients are added.

One thing in their favor is that these bars provide a lot of proteins of high biological value, although with the long processing they have lost most of the vitamins and other virtues of the fish. In addition, the sodium (salt) content is high, so they should be consumed in moderation by people with hypertension.

Due to its low flavor and its artificial color, I am not in favor of its use in cooking, when we have much cheaper and tastier options, especially in Mediterranean countries where fish is so abundant. And for a salad, why not use tuna, bonito or mackerel in oil as an alternative, which are also healthier and rich in vitamins?

Photo | cyclonebill Directly to the Paladar | Giant squid surimi Directly to the Palate | Tuna and surimi salad