Surimi: Good for your wallet, and the environment!

Crab Leg meat and Shrimp both made
with Surimi. (wikimedia commons)

   Have you ever enjoyed a California Roll? Then you’ve had Surimi! What is surimi? Sometimes called Imitation Crab in the US it’s a low cost alternative protein made from many different kinds of whitefish.
   Surimi is made by first rinsing filleted or minced fish (usually Alaskan Pollack) then, mashing it to create a gelatinized fish paste to which various amounts of starch, vegetable oil, egg white, or sometimes flavoring are added, depending on the desired texture of the final product. Frozen in this form it has a shelf life of up to two years, however, it is usually immediately formed into the shape it will be used in (ie sticks, shrimp, etc) then heated and cooled which cures it in that shape, much like jell-o, or pectin in fruit preserves. 
   While it is processed and can be artificially flavored, it’s a low cost substitute for many more expensive kinds of seafood proteins like shrimp, lobster, crab or other kinds of fish. It also decreases demand on fisheries of those more uncommon species, utilizing a fish with a more stable population which, unprocessed, would be much less salable. It’s also more than 15 percent protein by mass. For comparison, lobster is 19 percent, but the difference in cost easily makes up for the difference in protein density.

Here are some links to surimi distributors with recipe ideas, like this Spicy Garlic Seafood dish! ->