Researchers are working harder to develop delicious and environmentally friendly substitutes for traditional seafood as worries about unsustainable fishing methods and their effects on the ecosystem continue to increase. Although the refrigerated grocery store aisles may be stocked with many different animal substitutes, there are still few options for plant-based seafood.
The effects of overfishing, together with concerns about contamination and ethical issues, have increased consumer demand for seafood substitutes that may both appease palates and protect the seas. A team from the National University of Singapore has reportedly grabbed the lead, displaying their creative method for producing alluring vegan seafood that not only tastes great but also closely resembles the nutritional profile of genuine fish.
Due to varied textures, flavours, and nutrient composition of fish meat, making convincing plant-based seafood has proven to be quite difficult. Dejian Huang and his research team at the National University of Singapore, however, think a breakthrough is imminent thanks to their innovative use of plant-based proteins and cutting-edge technology.
“Plant-based seafood mimics are out there, but the ingredients don’t usually include protein. We wanted to make protein-based products that are nutritionally equivalent to or better than real seafood and address sustainability,” said Huang, principal investigator of this research.
The group created a protein-based ink using mung bean and microalgae protein that can be printed in different shapes using a food-grade 3D printer.
They can reproduce the appealing textures of fish meat while addressing sustainability issues thanks to this ground-breaking ink. By overlaying the protein-based ink, the team has been able to replicate the flaky, chewy, and greasy textures that seafood lovers adore.
The team’s most recent accomplishment is 3D printing a proof-of-concept: plant-based calamari rings that promise a mouthwatering snack experience using Natural Machines’ Foodini printer. They created a high-protein vegan paste that resembles regular calamari’s nutritional profile by adding mung bean and microalgae protein.
The product is brought to life by this 3D printing technology, which not only creates the appropriate textures but also gives it structure and aesthetic appeal. These vegan seafood substitutes have a wide range of possible uses, including treating allergies as well as dietary preferences and limits.
The researchers are optimistic about the product’s future on the market even if there is still work to be done to improve the texture and other aspects of it.
Given the limited availability of seafood, Poornima Vijayan, a graduate student and important member of the study team, emphasises the significance of their work.
“We need to be prepared from an alternative protein point of view, especially here in Singapore, where over 90% of the fish is important,” she warns, highlighting the necessity of innovative solutions.
The company plans to produce these delicious plant-based calamari rings on a massive scale and wants them to be sold at upscale restaurants and specialty shops.
Consumers will be captivated by the fusion of taste and sustainability, which will provide them with a guilt-free seafood experience.
Want to try 3D printing your own foods? Checkout our Foodini 3D printers below!