a food riddle on France 5


The paste used to make surimi consists of fish (40%), water, potato starch, wheat starch, egg white, salt and sugar. © Screens of the World

An in-depth investigation into this crab-flavored product whose reputation is not good. Rififi in the surimi, a documentary broadcast this Tuesday, November 22 at 9 p.m. on France 5.

Everything you always wanted to know about surimi but were afraid to ask… Is it an ultra-processed food product? Or is its bad reputation exaggerated? The in-depth investigation by Philippe Lespinasse, Du rififi dans le surimi, reveals the manufacturing secrets of the small orange sticks sold in cellophane in the fresh aisle of supermarkets.

blue whiting

Shedding light on what this food, invented more than nine hundred years ago in Japan, actually contains is interesting. With a first riddle to solve: as surimi tastes like crab, what proportion of this crustacean does it actually contain? A quick vox pop in a supermarket parking lot shows the ignorance of customers. The overwhelming majority of them do not imagine for a second that there is simply no crab in the sticks they taste as an aperitif!

Wheat starch and sugar

Where does this crab taste come from, then? Flavors made from green crabs reduced to extracts. As for the famous orange color, it is obtained thanks to the use of paprika concentrate. Surimi meat contains about 40% real fish protein obtained from blue whiting or Alaska pollock. To this is added 30% water, potato starch, wheat starch, egg white, salt and even sugar, which we can regret.

Luxury Kamaboko in Japan

However, this does not make industrial surimi a product to be absolutely avoided. But beware, some low-end productions may contain only 25% fish and multiply the additives… Still, to live an exceptional culinary experience, you have to go to Japan. There, some companies produce a luxury kamaboko: the traditional surimi, a delicacy that contains 95% fish.

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