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Shaw Wang Rutgers University Piscataway, New Jersey


Surimi is a Japanese term for mechanically deboned fish mince that has been washed with water and mixed with cryoprotectants for a long frozen shelf life. It is used as an intermediate product for a variety of shellfish analog products, such as crab legs, shrimp, and lobster. Minced fish, on the other hand, is a mechanically separated flesh that has not been washed and does not have good freeze stor-ability. Washing not only removes fat and undesirable matter, such as blood, pigments, and odorous substances but, more important, increases the concentration of myofibrillar proteins (primarily actomyosin) through removal of water-soluble sarcoplasmic proteins. As a result, washing improves gel strength and elasticity, essential properties for surimi-based products.

Unlike soy protein, surimi, because of its high concentration of myofibrillar proteins, produces an elastic and chewy texture that can be made to resemble that of shellfish. Because it has this unique property, surimi has been used extensively in Japan for many centuries in a variety of traditional as well as new fabricated products. Surimi technology has led to the development of commercially acceptable shellfish analogs that were not successful in the U.S. market when soy protein was used. It appears that surimi has great potential as a functional protein ingredient that can be substituted for a variety of traditional animal and vegetable proteins. The potential of surimi in developing new products is not limited to shellfish analogs; it has already been realized in developing products based on surimi-meat blends. The virtually unlimited resources of underutilized fish species will ensure a sufficient supply of surimi at a reasonable cost to meet the need for base material for surimi-based products.

The development of surimi technology in the United States began in the early 1980s, utilizing Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma). Within a short period, the U.S. surimi industry established a strong commercial base with technology development assisted by the government and university research laboratories. As a result, U.S. surimi production from Alaska pollock has grown from about 4,000 t in 1984 to an estimated 160,0001 in 1997, employing 19 factory ships and four shore plants. In nine years, the U.S. consumption of surimi analog products rose from 2,7001 (6 million lb) in 1980 to an estimated 80,0001 (176 million lb) in 1996 (1). The world surimi production topped 540,0001 (2) in 1992. As the Alaska pollock resource weakens, Southern blue whiting (Micromesistius australis) caught off Argentine and Pacific whiting (Merluccius prod-uctus) off the U.S. West Coast became the next largest sources for surimi production.

The interest of the U.S. industry in these products stems from the following: the surimi market continues to grow worldwide; new products with high profit margins can be developed; nontraditional fish species can be processed at a profit; and the nonseafood food companies can enter the manufacturing of surimi seafood products without having to become involved in fish processing. This article focuses on the historical background of surimi technology, and the important physical and chemical principles behind the process for manufacturing surimi and surimi-based seafood products.

Traditionally, Japanese surimi was freshly prepared from fresh fish and immediately processed into kamaboko products. Kamaboko is a generic term that includes a variety of products prepared from surimi and is distinguished from texturized shellfish meat analogs, which are a new breed of surimi-based products. The technique for making kamaboko products from minced and washed fish evolved around a.d. 1100, when Japanese fishermen discovered that they could keep the product longer if washed minced fish was mixed with salt, ground, and steam cooked or broiled (Fig. 1). Although all products made from surimi are generally called kamaboko, strictly speaking, kamaboko is one that is mounted on a wood plate and steamed or broiled. There are other narrowly defined products such as chikuwa, which is broiled, and tempura, which is fried.

The traditional surimi production was run on a day-today basis, depending on the supply of fresh fish. Consequently, the surimi industry could not expand to any great extent and remained a small-scale operation. However, in 1959, the surimi industry took a new turn when a group of scientists at the Hokkaido Fisheries Laboratories discovered a technique to stabilize frozen surimi (3,4). This discovery was made from an incidental finding of a cryo-protectant that kept the surimi from freeze denaturation during frozen storage. This technique enabled Japanese manufacturers to stockpile surimi. Previously, most of the surimi was produced on shore, but subsequently about half of the surimi has been produced on processing ships as a result of an intensive joint effort by government and industry to mechanize on-board surimi production. Subsequently, frozen surimi production increased from 32,000 t in 1965 to 380,000 t in 1975, together with a record production of 1.1 million t of kamaboko (5,6).

Homemade Pet Food Secrets

Homemade Pet Food Secrets

It is a well known fact that homemade food is always a healthier option for pets when compared to the market packed food. The increasing hazards to the health of the pets have made pet owners stick to containment of commercial pet food. The basic fundamentals of health for human beings are applicable for pets also.

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