Essential in the kitchen of the future

The gradual introduction of algae in Western cuisine is one of the demands of those responsible for managing future food, since they are postulated as an alternative source of food for a growing world population. They can be classified as plants that live in aquatic environments and are classified into three groups according to their pigmentation: brown or pheophyceae, red or rhodophyceae, and green or chlorophyceae. Although they are found both in salty and fresh waters, the marine ones are the most extracted, due to their variety and quantity.

Numerous studies have shown that algae provide vitamins A, C and those of group B, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and iodine. There are also those with protein content, so they can complement vegetarian, vegan or special diets. In January 2008, Merichell Plaza, Alejandro Cifuentes and Elena Ibáñez, from the Institute of Industrial Fermentations of the CSIC, published a study in Trends in food Science & Technology that identified algae as functional foods, because they contain antioxidant, antiviral, antihypertensive compounds. and others that may be beneficial to health.

In Asian cuisine, seaweed is a widely used ingredient. Documents have been found that demonstrate its food use in the fourth century in Japan. This country, along with China and Korea, are the current top consumers. The expansion of Asian cuisine in the world has gone hand in hand with the use of these plants. The nori seaweed used in the preparation of maki sushi has become one of the symbols of Japanese cuisine worldwide.

Some varieties have entered European culture with force, such as kombu seaweed (Laminaria ochroleuca); its iodized and slightly smoked flavor make it very suitable for soups, rice dishes and creams, where it also adds thickness. Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), with a marine flavor and crunchy texture, is used in salads and as a garnish for fish, meat and seafood dishes. In addition to sushi, nori seaweed (which includes different species of the Porphyra genus) is applied, boiled, in soups, creams, tortillas, croquettes and many other preparations.
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