Lean meat from fish or land animals is first separated or minced. The meat then is rinsed numerous times to eliminate undesirable odors. The result is beaten and pulverized to form a gelatinous paste. Depending on the desired texture and flavor of the surimi product, the gelatinous paste is mixed with differing proportions of additives such as starch, egg white, salt, vegetable oil, humectants, sorbitol, sugar, soy protein, seasonings, and enhancers such as transglutaminases and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
If the surimi is to be packed and frozen, food-grade cryoprotectants are added as preservatives while the meat paste is being mixed Under most circumstances, surimi is processed immediately into a formed and cured product.
Typically the resulting paste, depending on the type of fish and whether it was rinsed in the production process, is tasteless and must be flavored artificially. According to the USDA Food Nutrient Database 16-1, fish surimi contains about 76% water, 15% protein, 6.85% carbohydrate, 0.9% fat, and 0.03% cholesterol.
In North America and Europe, surimi also alludes to fish-based products manufactured using this process. A generic term for fish-based surimi in Japanese is "fish-puréed products" (?????? gyoniku neri seihin).
The fish used to make surimi include:
Milkfish (Chanos chanos)
Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
(Oreochromis niloticus niloticus)
Big-head pennah croaker (Pennahia macrocephalus)
Golden threadfin bream (Nemipterus virgatus)
Cod (Gadus morhua)
Bigeyes (Priacanthus arenatus)
Pacific whiting (Merluccius productus)
Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma)
Various shark species
Although seen less commonly in Japanese and Western markets, pork surimi (??) is a common product found in a wide array of Chinese foods. The process of making pork surimi is similar to making fish surimi except that leaner cuts of meat are used and rinsing is omitted. Pork surimi is made into pork balls (Chinese: gòng wán; ??) which, when cooked, have a texture similar to fish balls, but are much firmer and denser.
Pork surimi also is mixed with flour and water to make a type of dumpling wrapper called "yèn pí" (?? or ???) that has the similar firm and bouncy texture of cooked surimi.
Beef surimi also can be shaped into a ball form to make "beef balls" (???). When beef surimi is mixed with chopped beef tendons and formed into balls, "beef tendon balls" (???) are produced. Both of these products commonly are used in Chinese hot pot as well as served in Vietnamese "ph?".
The surimi process also is used to make turkey products. It is used to make turkey burgers, turkey sausage, turkey pastrami, turkey franks, turkey loafs and turkey salami.
Surimi is a useful ingredient for producing various kinds of processed foods. It allows a manufacturer to imitate the texture and taste of a more expensive product such as lobster tail, using a relatively low-cost material. Surimi is an inexpensive source of protein.
In Asian cultures, surimi is eaten as a food in its own right and seldom used to imitate other foods. In Japan fish cakes (kamaboko) and fish sausages, as well as other extruded fish products, are commonly sold as cured surimi.
In Chinese cuisine, fish surimi, often called "fish paste," is used directly as stuffing or made into balls. Balls made from lean beef (???, lit. "beef ball") and pork surimi often are seen in Chinese cuisine. Fried, steamed, and boiled surimi products also are found commonly in Southeast Asian cuisine.
In the West, surimi products usually are imitation seafood products, such as crab, abalone, shrimp, calamari, and scallop. Several companies do produce surimi sausages, luncheon meats, hams, and burgers. Some examples include: Salmolux salmon burgers and SeaPak surimi ham, salami, and rolls. A patent was issued for the process of making even higher quality proteins from fish such as in the making of imitation steak from surimi. Surimi is also used to make kosher imitation shrimp and crabmeat, using only kosher fish such as pollock.
Chemistry of surimi curing
The curing of the fish paste is caused by the polymerization of myosin when heated. The species of fish is the most important factor that affects this curing process. Many pelagic fish with higher fat contents lack the needed type kind of heat-curing myosin and are not used for surimi.
Certain kinds of fish, such as the Pacific whiting, cannot form firm surimi without additives such as egg white or potato starch. Before the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, mad cow disease), it was an industrial practice to add bovine blood plasma into the fish paste to help its curing or gel-forming. Today some manufacturers may use a transglutaminase to improve the texture of surimi.
List of surimi foods
Yong tau foo