Two seafood products – review ★★★☆☆

1) Salmon Jerky

Sainsbury’s Ready to Eat Hot & Spicy Salmon Jerky (55g) £1.75

  • Flavour: ★★★★☆
  • Nutrition: ★★★☆☆
  • Value for money:★★★☆☆

Gluten/Grain free. Paleo-ish.

I came across this recently and just had to try it out. Salmon Jerky? I’ve made my own beef Jerky and love it, although some of the commercial snack versions too often contain ingredients I’m not happy with such as monosodium glutamate, colouring and preservatives. This Salmon Jerky, has pretty reasonable ingredients list, although there is quite a lot of sugar in there.

Like most dried meats this salmon packs a lot of protein and healthy fats for a small package. The macros in this little 55g pack work out at 17.5g of fats / 11g carbs / 15g protein. I reckon it contains about 1000 mg of Omega 3’s. Unfortunately, the sugars push up the carbs, with an unnecessarily high 2 teaspoons of sugar (10g) in each pack. I’m horrified to see that this is just 10% of your recommended daily allowance! I.e. our elected government reckons its fine to eat 20 tsp of sugar per day. No way!

These little strips of dried fish are very tasty – sweet and spicy, yet still distinctly salmony. As a snack on its own it’s easy to wolf down the entire 55g in a couple of minutes. I’m not sure of the best way to use these other than as a snack. Perhaps added to a salad?

At £1.75 this little 50g pack seems rather expensive compared to fresh farmed salmon, which will give you the same omega 3s and protein for ¼ the price, but that’s missing the point: fresh salmon needs cooking and this is a ready-to-go product. It is actually very similar in cost to Sainsbury’s other ready to eat salmon products, but what you get here is the novelty of a semi-dried jerky-style product which you can eat with your fingers without too much mess.  As a not-so-low-carb, high-protein, paleo snack this isn’t bad, even at £1-75 and is almost certainly a better choice nutritionally than many of the commercial protein bars out there, even the ‘paleo’ branded bars. Compared to the snack-packs of supermarket beef jerky this is very similar in macros, but a bit cheaper.

Similar products:

2) Seaweed ‘Crisps’

itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins, (various flavours) 3x5g, £2.00

  • Flavour: ★★☆☆☆
  • Nutrition: ★★☆☆☆
  • Value for money:★★☆☆☆

Available from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Amazon, Ocado

These ‘thins’ are made from dried nori (laver) seaweed harvested from ‘crystal clear’ Korean seas and marketed as a healthier vegetable crisp. They are sold in ‘multipacks’ containing three smaller packs, each enclosing a plastic tray, which in turn holds a vanishingly small 5g of paper thin snack.

There is a certain irony in this seaweed product being sold in an excess of plastic that inevitably will find its way into the very ‘crystal clear’ Korean oceans from whence the seaweed came. All of this packaging is necessary because  these tiny sheets of sea-weedy goodness very quickly lose their crispness when exposed to the air. In fact each mini-tray has a small moisture absorbing silicon-gel pack in the bottom to ensure they reach you in perfect weedy crispiness. (Or should that be crispy weedieness?)

The basic salted variety of itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins has a nice short ingredients list we can all live with. Inevitably, the more complex flavours (Wasabi, Sweet Soy etc) have additional ingredients, including some highly processed ones such as corn oil, corn starch and soy sauce, but at least they are all gluten-free.

Nutritionally there is little to comment on here. Macronutrients are negligible, but seaweed is famed for its micronutrient content, especially iodine and B12 – for which it is one of the few vegetable sources of these essential nutrients. One 5g plain pack contains 9µg of B12 (300% NRV) and 122µg of iodine (81% NRV).

To put that into perspective, a 120g fillet of cod would contains twice as much iodine but only half the B12.

But here I run into a problem. I can’t find any reference to Nori (Laver) seaweed containing anything close to these levels of B12. One source [ref] suggests that the drying process converts active B12 into B12 analogues which in one study actually reduced participants’ B12 status. Vegans beware!

Taste wise, these sea vegetable crisps are OK. The added flavouring masks the underlying bland green-ness of the laver and distracts you from the sense that you are chewing grass.

The bottom line is these snacks are a bit silly. They only really work as a stand alone snack, and you need to eat a whole pack (5g) at once as they go soft quickly. Unlike crisps, using them to scoop sauces, humus or cream cheese does not work as they instantly lose their crispiness making them taste more like compressed grass than ever.

I reckon they represent a novelty or opportunity to show off, rather than an actual food, generally speaking, but they are not nasty or offensive. Just a tad weird and exotic.

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