Vegan seafood that looks, tastes and has a similar texture to the real thing been made using a 3D printer for the first time.
Scientists claim to have created “desirable” plant-based and friable salmon fillets, shrimp and even calamari rings that taste good – while maintaining the healthful profile of real fish.
While plant-based alternatives to beef, pork and poultry are commonplace in shops today, researchers say more mock seafood options are needed because of “unsustainable” fishing practices, which can deplete the supply and harm the environment.
Creating vegan alternatives to seafood that match the nutrition and taste of the real thing has previously proved difficult.
Now a research team in Singapore has 3D-printed an ink made from microalgae protein and mung bean protein, and their proof-of-concept calamari rings can even be air-fried for a quick, tasty snack.
Graduate student Poornima Vijayan, who was part of the National University of Singapore (NUS) research team, said: “I think it’s imminent that the seafood supply could be very limited in the future.
“We need to be prepared from an alternative protein point of view, especially here in Singapore, where over 90 percent of the fish is imported.”
People around the world eat a lot of seafood, but the oceans are not an infinite resource.
The researchers say overfishing has depleted many wild fish populations and that lack of sustainability, combined with heavy-metal and microplastic contamination, as well as ethical concerns, have pushed some shoppers toward plant-based alternatives.
But such alternatives are still difficult for vegan seafood lovers to find.
While some mock seafood products — such as imitation crabmeat made from minced and reshaped pollock or other white fish – are already in shops, making mimics from plants has proved to be a challenge.
She said: “The goal is to get the same texture and elastic properties as the calamari rings that are commercially available.
And while this plant-based mimic might provide a seafood fix for people with allergies to mollusks, which includes squid, Huang isn’t sure whether people could be sensitive to its ingredients.
He said: “I don’t think that there are many known cases of allergies to microalgae proteins or mung bean proteins.
“But we don’t know yet because it’s still a new combination.”
Now the team plans to develop several prototypes and assess how easily they can be developed for large-scale food manufacturing.
Huang expects that in the next few years the calamari-like products could be available in fine-dining restaurants or specialty outlets.
Vijayan added: “I think people will like our plant-based mimic.
“From a novelty perspective, it has that seafood taste but comes from only sustainable plant-based sources.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Continue reading: Would You Eat 3D-printed Vegan Seafood? ...