Fish & Seafood

Aqua Cultured Foods About to Start Alt-Seafood Products Taste Testing

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Aqua Cultured Foods will commence consumer tastings of seafood alternatives at its West Loop, Chicago headquarters this month, in advance of launching publicly through chef partners and foodservice distributors. The food tech startup will offer participants Aqua tuna rolls, shrimp dumplings and scallop crudo to solicit feedback.

Aqua is developing a range of faux seafood from proprietary mycoprotein fermentation processes. A unique strain of fungi transforms plant-based ingredients into alt-seafood with a mimicked texture, realistic taste and appearance that the company is promoting as a one-to-one replacement for animal seafood. It is also producing minced fillings for applications such as dumplings, ravioli and sushi rolls.

“Public tasting events will help us fine-tune products and learn what preparations are most successful, which will also help us create new menu items with chef and restaurant partners,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo. “Participants should arrive hungry and prepare to be wowed, because they’ve never had plant-based seafood that’s this delicious and this convincing.”

Aqua’s imitation calamari, shrimp, scallops, tuna filets tuna and whitefish are created using fermentation processes that do not use any animal inputs, genetic altering or modification. Unlike plant-based processed foods formulated with starches and protein isolates, its alt-seafood retains naturally occurring fiber, protein and other micronutrients.