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Forsea Puts Its Cultivated Freshwater Eel to the Taste Test

Courtesy of Forsea
Courtesy of Forsea

Forsea Foods, a cultivated seafood start-up, recently hosted its first official tasting of cultured freshwater eel at the chic Tel-Aviv restaurant "a." The exclusive event welcomed an intimate gathering of 40 guests, including investors, journalists, key opinion leaders in the food industry, representatives from the Japanese embassy, and various Japanese food companies based in Israel. On the menu were three culinary fish creations, with Forsea's cell-cultivated iteration of unagi kabayaki—grilled fresh eel on a bed of aromatic rice—as the centerpiece.


Pioneering Sustainability in Seafood


Forsea Foods is on a mission to save wild eel populations and other at-risk species. The company has pioneered a new approach to cultivating fish tissues outside their native water habitats by applying organoid technology. Forsea's patent-protected method creates an ideal environment for fish cells to spontaneously assemble into three-dimensional tissue structures with their natural composition of fat, muscle, and connective tissue. This innovative method mirrors the natural growth process of these tissues in a living fish, aligning cell-based technology more closely with nature.


Scalability and Commercial Viability


One of the significant advantages of Forsea's method is that it bypasses the scaffolding stage and reduces the dependence on costly growth factors. This makes the process highly scalable, raising its commercial viability and achieving price parity with traditionally aquafarmed eel meat. Wild eel populations have been experiencing severe supply shortages due to overfishing, while aquafarming of eel remains difficult, and breeding eel in captivity is still elusive.


This shortfall occurs amidst a surge in demand for the Japanese delicacy, not only among the Japanese population but also across Asia, the United States, and Europe. Consequently, the wholesale price of freshwater eels has jumped to as high as USD60 per kilo.


"Forsea's unique organoid technology has the potential to overcome many of the industry bottlenecks in bringing cultivated meat to the consumer plate," asserts Roee Nir, CEO and co-founder of Forsea. "Since the start of the year, we made significant advancements in improving our cell lines. We also have been working diligently to enhance our recipes. This event was a great opportunity for us to present our unprecedented achievements to partners and industry stakeholders."


The Event
Courtesy of Forsea - The Event

A Gourmet Experience


At the closed dining event, guests enjoyed the first tastings of Forsea's cultured eel unagi filets. The creation embodies the flavor and smooth, tender texture of traditional eel unagi. It is free of pollutants such as mercury, industrial chemicals, and microplastics. Moreover, it is highly sustainable, helping protect the aquatic environment and its inhabitants.


Celebrated Israeli gourmet chef Yuval Ben Neriah, a specialist in Asian cuisine and owner of the five elements-inspired restaurant Taizo in Tel Aviv, played a pivotal role in fine-tuning the finished product to capture the authentic flavor and sensory attributes of the Japanese specialty.


"As a chef who spent many years tantalizing diners with fine Asian cuisine, this project with Forsea has been particularly exciting as it marks my first venture into future food and the world of cell-cultured seafood and its resonating sustainability message," says Ben Neriah, chef of restaurant "a." "The feedback from the diners was indeed uplifting. Several remarked that they wouldn't have guessed that the unagi was cell-cultivated had they not been informed."


Executive chef Katsumi Kusumoto, who started the vegan restaurant SAIDO in Tokyo, also contributed to bringing Forsea's inaugural unagi product to culinary perfection. Unagi has been a famous specialty of Chef Kusumoto for many years. Forsea projects that its debut product will be primed for commercial roll-out by 2026 and is currently forging connections with strategic partners in Japan.


A Milestone in Food Innovation


Takahashi Seiichiro, Japan's Deputy Chief of Mission to Israel, congratulated Forsea's achievements: "I would like to thank Forsea for choosing eel, an endangered species but indispensable for the Japanese and Asian diet. While we Japanese have been eating eel for more than 5000 years, we understand that cultivating eel is no simple task. Therefore, I believe that introducing the first cell-cultured eel is the accomplished result of great comprehensive corporate efforts."


Forsea's groundbreaking event not only showcased the company's innovative approach to seafood cultivation but also highlighted the potential for sustainable food solutions. With their debut product poised for commercial roll-out by 2026, Forsea is set to significantly impact the future of food.

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