Meet Seafood Made From Mushrooms

Vegan seafood alts are leveling up.

Close-up image of beautiful bunch mushrooms.

(Bushko Oleksandr /

Vegans today have more meat and fish substitute options than ever before. Even non-vegans are pleasantly surprised by the delicious meatless burgers, almost forgetting that they are eating pure plants. Seafood is the latest food to go ‘’faux” and scientists have now perfected its plant-based alternative. 

Now a team of experts from food science, microbiologists and a two-star Michelin restaurant are coming together to create plant-based seafood that’s close to the real thing.

Plant-based seafood options are falling behind other animal protein alts
Scientists from the Technical University of Denmark are working with the Michelin-starred Alchemist restaurant in Copenhagen, to create the closest plant substitute there is, according to The Guardian, seafood’s fibrous  texture is hard to recreate accurately, leaving few available dining options for those who want to enjoy the cuisine with plant-based options. 

Dr. Leonie Jahn, the lead scientist of the project, attributes the slow progress of plant-based seafood options to the limited choices in the consistency of alternatives. “It has these layers, the texture is rather soft but you have some resistance and chewiness, that’s quite difficult to reproduce,” she says. 

Fermenting fungi on seaweed creates that seafood texture
The team is experimenting with fermenting filamentous fungi, a microorganism found in soil, on seaweed to try and mimic seafood's touch and feel. Filamentous fungi have already been used in meatless meat products, but their focus has always been their nutritional value and not their texture according to New Food Magazine

Dr. Juan is among the 21 recipients of the GFI’s 2021 Competitive Research Grant, granted by the Good Food Institute (GFI), a global nonprofit that promotes plant- and cell-based alternatives to animal products, to research new ways to develop sustainable protein. 

Juan and her team plan to use mycelia, a root-like fungus resembling a yeast, and different fermentation and growth conditions with the goal to identify which conditions can alter fungi texture. Then using those conditions to create ranging scaffolds, which allow the attachment and maturation of cells in a certain way, to manipulate the fungi to grow the way meat cells would, according to the magazine article.  

Faux seafood to taste like it came from the sea
An additional challenge the team faced was whether or not the seafood felt like seafood but also tasted like seafood. “We scientists are not good at understanding how to make things delicious, and this decides whether people will eat them,” Dr. Juan told The Guardian. This is why her team is working with top chefs and flavor experts at The Alchemist to develop the flavoring of the seafood substitute. 

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The Alchemist restaurant in Copenhagen earned two stars in the famous Michelin guide in 2020 within its first opening year for its unique dishes. Their standard for incredible and tasting food extends to their collaboration with Juan and her team, to “create a product that is so delicious in its own right, that it is chosen over other foods on the sole criterion of tastiness,” head chef and owner Rasmus Munk tells the news release. 

When the perfect plant-based seafood alternative is ready, there is little doubt that it will become an instant crowd pleaser. And even more so, will increase the awareness of oceans and marine life and a solution towards a more sustainable future. 

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