Moisture-releasing ingredients may boost acceptance of other fish

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Omega-3 fatty acid

Amid fears of falling fish stocks, adding moisture-releasing
ingredients like diced vegetables or milk could boost acceptance of
less desirable but abundant fish to consumers, suggests new
research.

The healthy reputation of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has exploded into consumer consciousness, based largely on evidence that it can aid cognitive function, may help protect the heart against cardiovascular disease, and could reduce the risk of certain cancers. However, fears about dwindling fish stocks and the presence of pollutants have pushed some academia and industry to start producing omega-3s from alternative sources, such as algae extraction or transgenic plant sources. The researchers behind the current research report that Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus​) has abundant stocks but is not commercially exploited because of its dark flesh colour, oily flesh, difficulty in boning, and poor market acceptance. It has also been labelled as an "undesirable fish rather than a health fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids for human consumption,"​ they said. But the fish is reported to be the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids among marine fish species (2.6 per cent, giving 0.9 per cent EPA, and 1.6 per cent DHA), making it an interesting species for exploitation to a consumer base that is increasingly health aware. Writing in the Journal of Food Science​, Chong Lee and co-workers from the University of Rhode Island and Kyung Hee University in Korea report that addition of moisture-releasing ingredients to a minced fish product and evaluated the sensorial properties of the finished product after moulding, battering, frying, freezing, and subsequent re-cooking. "The present study was attempted to develop an innovative fish mince-based seafood product that is acceptable to foodservice, institutional, and retail sectors, as well as to domestic ethnic and overseas markets,"​ wrote the researchers. Lee and co-workers used three approaches to improve the moistness of the resulting fish nuggets – by varying the added water level (0 to 35 per cent), varying the added water–moisture-releasing vegetable combination (onion, mushroom, green pepper and zucchini), and varying the milk–water combination. They report: "milk was more effective than water in rendering moistness and tender texture. Vegetables were effective in forming and making the cooked product moist with less liquid added by holding moisture release during forming and liquid cells after cooking."​ For the added water, the optimum water addition was found to be 28 per cent, while the milk addition was most effective when a 14:7 milk-water combination was used. "Milk was chosen as one of the moisture-releasing ingredients [because] it not only provides moisture but also serves as a fishy flavour neutralizer,"​ explained Lee. "The mackerel meat has an inherently strong fishy flavour. It is desirable to neutralize this fishy flavour using milk since milk protein is known to have the ability to bind the prominent flavour compounds."​ For the vegetables, the samples containing seven per cent diced onion was found to be the softest, most moist and preferred ingredient. "The mackerel nugget could potentially provide 260-mg omega-3 fatty acids (10-mg LNA, 90-mg EPA, and 160-mg DHA) per piece (approximately 20 g containing 10 g mince),"​ said Lee. Source: Journal of Food Science​ (Blackwell Publishing) Published on-line ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2006.00257.x "Improvement of moisture and texture of high omega-3 fatty acid mackerel nuggets by inclusion of moisture-releasing ingredients" ​Authors: K.H. Lee, H. Joaquin, C.M. Lee

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