Each year, the seafood industry presents a myriad of new products at SENA, some which end up in the New Product Showcase, hoping to win a Seafood Excellence Award. Only two such Awards are selected, the Best New Retail Product and Best New Foodservice Product. Other exhibitors simply present their new products at their booth, often providing samples intended to entice people to purchase their new item. Each year, as I wander up and down the aisles of the Expo, I seek out intriguing new products, hoping to find something fascinating and delicious. This year, I found several items which stirred my interest.
Thai Union, through its Chicken of the Sea brand, has created Yellowfin Tuna Slices, essentially deli slices of tuna. What a cool idea! It is now even easier to make a tuna sandwich, simply piling on slices on your bread rather than the broken pieces you remove from a can and need mayo to keep together. Sliced tuna is also very versatile and you can check out numerous recipes here. I was curious though as to how these tuna slices were produced, and whether they contained any fillers or additives.
Once completed, the tuna is then sliced into approximately one ounce pieces, currently sold in two pound, vacuum sealed packages (about $16) to commercial businesses like restaurants. The tuna slices are available in two flavors, Black Pepper and Cajun, though they have the capability to produce almost any flavor. I had the opportunity to taste both flavors and I was impressed with the tuna's texture and flavor, especially enjoying the spicy heat from the Cajun style. It tasted like tuna and I love the ease of use, how it can so simply used on a sandwich, in a wrap, atop a salad, etc.
I believe these tuna slices could get more people to eat seafood, as it avoids one of the main complaints about seafood, that it is too difficult to cook. With these slices, it is as easy to use as sliced roast beef, turkey or bologna. And the fact that it is basically tuna and seasonings should appeal to people seeking healthier alternatives. Plus, it provides the benefits of Omega-3s, which can significantly reduce the chance of heart diseases. Maybe we can look forward to other sliced fish in the future. The deli counter has taken a step toward the future.
Ocean Hugger Foods, Inc. was founded by Master Chef James Corwell, a native of Atlanta. Chef Corwell was concerned about the state of bluefin tuna, understanding the precarious status of the species. He decided to create an alternative to tuna, something which would help protect and conserve the oceans. His first creation is Ahimi, a plant-based alternative to raw tuna, which can be used in sushi, ceviche, tartare and more.
Ocean Hugger Foods is working on additional products, including Sakimi, a carrot-based salmon alternative, and Unami, an eggplant-based eel alternative.
Barnacle Coast to Kitchen, an Alaskan company that uses seaweed to create a variety of products. The founders, Matt Kern and Lia Heifetz, are natives of Southeast Alaska and would fish and forage bull kelp, preserving the seaweed by pickling it and making salsa. Eventually, they decided to make a business out of their activities, remaining in their local community and using the sustainable kelp, which they harvest from the Alaskan wasters.
Their website describes the kelp, stating: "It’s snappy, salty and savory, with a crisp bite. Bull kelp grows annually, from spore to mature plant in a single year. As it grows, it attaches to the ocean floor via a “holdfast”—a root-like growth that clings to rocks or other anchorages. From there, the stalk can grow up to 80 feet, with a floating bulb at the surface. Bull kelp forests create vital habitat for fish, sea urchins and starfish. Sea otters often wrap kelp strands around their bodies to secure them during rough weather."
Check out the Seafood Source for a recent article on the rise in popularity of seaweed. At prior Seafood Expos, I've tasted a few different products made from seaweed and have enjoyed them, so I was intrigued to check out Barnacle's products. Unfortunately, only the Campfire Kelp Salsa seemed to be available to taste.
I was impressed with the Campfire, finding it to be delicious, spicy and smoky, with rich tomato and prominent garlic flavors. It was savory, with an intriguing umami element, and you wouldn't have known it contained kelp unless someone told you. It was excellent atop a tortilla chip and I could easily see it used in anyway you might use a regular salsa. And it is more nutritious than many other jarred salsas. This earns my hearty recommendation.
To Be Continued...