In the depths of the seas there is an unexpected treasure that can also be used in the kitchen: the marine plankton. Let’s find out how to use plankton in cooking and bring starred cuisine home!
This microorganism, although often overlooked, is gaining a prominent place in the menus of the most exclusive restaurants and in the kitchens of renowned chefs.
Yes, it is not only the nourishment of fish like sardines, but it can become an amazing ingredient to use in cooking.
Plankton: what it is and what it means
Before finding out how to use this ingredient in the kitchen it is worth taking a step back and understanding that what is the plankton and what it is for.
Let’s start by saying that it is a microscopic life form that thrives in water and includes a wide range of organisms, such as algae, small crustaceans and bacteria, which form the basis of the marine food chain.
Substantially, as already mentioned, it constitutes nourishment for fish and marine species that populate the seas and expanses of fresh water.
The term “plàncton”, from “plankton” in French and “Plankton” in German, has origins in the Greek πλαγκτόν, which means “wandering”, derived from πλάζω, which means “wandering”, referring to its propensity to be passively transported from the currents.
There are two types of plankton: The plant plankton or phytoplankton (microscopic algae that produce oxygen through photosynthesis) and the animal plankton or zooplankton (what animal is plankton? These are smaller animal organisms, such as copepods and larvae of various marine animals that feed on phytoplankton and form the basis of nutrition for many larger fish).
The identification and isolation of a precise genre of a plant plankton safe for human consumption marked an important milestone in food research. Thanks to the cultivation and freeze-drying process of this particular variety, an intense green powder was obtained which opened new horizons in the panorama of nutrition and gastronomy.
Plankton: properties and benefits
But what makes it so special to use it in the kitchen? First, it is an amazing source of nutrients. Its composition makes it a valuable addition, offering health benefits such as:
- Proteins – It is a source of complete proteins, containing all the amino acids necessary for the construction and maintenance of body tissues.
- Essential fatty acids – Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), it contributes to heart health, brain function and reduced inflammation in the body.
- Vitamins – Contains vitamin C (important for the immune system and the action of fighting free radicals) and vitamin E (antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative damage).
- Minerals – It is rich in minerals, among which iron stands out (fundamental for the transport of oxygen in the blood), phosphorus (vital for the regulation of PH and the well-being of bones and teeth) and calcium (essential for bone health and the correct functioning of muscles and nerves).
- Antioxidants – The microorganism contains a variety of antioxidants that can help fight oxidative stress in the body, contributing to the prevention of disease and premature aging.
How to use plankton in cooking
It can be used in different forms in the kitchen, each offering the chance to experiment with unique and innovative flavors.
It is essentially sold in powder form and can be used as a powdered ingredient or rehydrated using water (1:3 ratio). Here you are how to use plankton in cooking:
- Added extras – The powder is versatile and can be added to flavor sauces, soups and condiments or to prepare fresh pasta and various types of dough. It is a way to give a marine touch and enrich the flavor of dishes.
- Cream or sauce– The preparation of a cream or sauce based can be used to enrich pasta, rice or vegetable or fish-based dishes.
- Marinades for fish – Just add a little to give a distinctive marine flavor to the fish marinade and enrich the aromatic notes of the dish.
- Ice-cream – It may seem strange to some, but it can be used to prepare a savory ice cream to serve with fish carpaccio, tartare and other seafood dishes.
What does plankton taste like?
The marine plankton it can become a real ace in the hole in the kitchen, but you need to know what to expect.
This ingredient offers a wide range of marine flavors that add complexity to dishes. Its presence can transform the taste of a dish, giving a distinctive note that brings out the essence of the sea.
The flavor of the sea which is reminiscent of sea urchins (with truffle notes and hints of matcha tea) is so interesting that it has inspired creative chefs and lovers of gourmet cuisine, who seek to broaden the range of culinary experiences and surprise guests. palates of the diners.
Plankton: the price as a sore point
The cost is a bit of a sore point: 1 kg costs more or less 3,000-4,000 euros (3150-200 euros for 50 g), which makes it a very valuable ingredient. So, who eats plankton it should be used sparingly (both due to the cost and the strong flavor it gives to dishes).