Chefs at Copenhagen’s world-famous two Michelin-starred eatery Alchemist are to explore an innovative method of making sustainable alt-seafood products through growing fungi on seaweed.
Funded by the Good Food Institute (GFI), a team led by Dr Leonie Jahn, coordinator of the microbial foods group at the Technical University of Denmark, will use filamentous fungi – microorganisms found in soil and other environments – to ferment the seaweed. Then, the Alchemist team will work to recreate the texture and taste of seafood before finalising a product that will be a fusion of both fungi and seaweed.
“I think there’s huge potential here – there aren’t a lot of seafood alternatives on the market but there’s certainly a need for them,” said Jahn. “This is also an area that hasn’t been explored before.”
Once the method is applied successfully, the alt-seafood dish may be chosen by head chef Rasmus Munk to join the menu of the Danish restaurant – and a version could be available for consumers to purchase.
“Our main goal with the project is to attempt to create a unique and delicious product that is good enough to be served at a fine dining restaurant, using natural ingredients with seaweed providing flavours of the sea and the mycelium adding to an attractive texture,” said Diego Prago, head of research at Alchemist.
It is estimated that the global demand for seafood will double by 2050, accelerating the alarming extinction of nearly half of the EU’s marine habitats and driving both the need and demand for sustainable alt-seafood products.
Seren Kell, science and technology manager, concluded: “This is an incredibly exciting project which will explore innovative ways of using fungi to deliver the distinctive flavours and textures of seafood – using it to create whole-cut seafood, create scaffolds to give structure to cultivated meat products, and finally developing its texture and fermenting seaweed to create an entirely new seafood product.”
Drawing expertise of the standard of the team from Alchemy spells an exciting move for mainstream public acceptance of alt-seafoods. This is an exciting development.