Surimi, imitation crab
Imitation crab is a popular product made of cut fish, well-known as surimi, and ingredients that improve the structure. As might be suspected it is an imitation of crab. For already 800 years surimi is used as a basis for many products in Japan. In 1975 imitation crab was invented by Y. Sugino en K. Osaki.
Sorting, cleaning and again sorting
The fish is sorted to specie. By sorting them to specie the machinery can be adjusted more specifically which makes the process more precise. Afterwards the fish is cleaned with cold water. The larger unwanted parts are removed. Afterwards the fish is sorted to size. This aids the cutting process so that as few fish as possible is lost.
meat are removed, but also fat and inorganic salt are removed. Part of the proteins get lost. To accomplish this, the fish is put into water to soak. Later, the dirty water is sieved from the fish.
The above mentioned phases can happen on the fishing boat as well as in the factory.
pressure so that the structure of the fish is not damaged.
Sugar and sorbitol are added to the fish. These additives make sure that the proteins of the fish itself are not damaged due to freezing. Besides that, it also gives a good flavor to the end product and a longer storage life.
mixing the fish, which at this moment is already called surimi, it is packed in big polythene bags. These are filled with 10 kg of surimi.
The bags of fish frozen fast to a temperature of 20°C below zero. In freezing the fish fast many and small ice crystals are formed. This damages the fish less than when it is frozen slowly, in which the ice crystals receive much time to grow and to become large. The fish is kept at this temperature until it can be further processed. This can take a few days but also several weeks. The time of storing the fish depends on the supply and demand of imitation crab.
Heating upThe final imitation crab is produced from surimi. The surimi is heated to a temperature of 4°C below zero. This temperature is high enough to obtain good cutting surfaces, but it is low enough to avoid the growth of microorganisms.
Mixing and storingThe pieces of surimi are mixed with several ingredients. Starch, protein (plasma), vegetable oil, salt, real crab and aromas are added. The starch that is added will in the end be 6% of the total weight. Therefore it is very important for the structure. It forms and stabilizes the structure and it adds extra freezing stability. The plasma increases the strength of the jellyness and gives the product a more smooth and white appearance. Vegetable oil is added for the appearance and the structure. The aromas and the real crab lend the imitation crab its real flavor of crab.
The mixture can be stored in a tank for a few days if it is stored with a temperature around zero.
Forming, boiling and coolingAfterwards the mixture is molded into bars of 25 cm long with a diameter of 1.2 mm. Because of the natural fish proteins the bars have a smooth appearance. The shape of these bars is fixed by boiling them for a few minutes. Now, the structure of the mixture is formed. The bars are again rapidly cooled down to a temperature of 3°C below zero to avoid micro-biological growth.
The bags with bars are pasteurized by means of steam to kill vegetative microorganisms which increases the storage life.