Food Science and
Technology - 92 



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Project Leader and Principal UC Investigators

Professor Norman F. Haard, Department of Food Science & Technology, University of California, Davis

Nora Dimes, Staff Research Associate, Department of Food Science & Technology; University of California, Davis

Maria lzquierdo-Pulido, visiting scientist, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain


It's no secret that rice and seafood make for an exceptional culinary combination. But research into the biochemical properties of rice may pair these two staples in a new and, to most people, an unexpected way.

Pacific Hake

Surimi is a processed seafood product that consumers may recognize as "artificial" crabmeat. This seafood sausage is made from species such as Arrowtooth Flounder and Pacific Hake, that may be abundant in the ocean but have not found much demand in the marketplace.

Seafood processors add to surimi a chemical derived from potatoes (and other sources) to inhibit an enzyme that causes degradation of fish protein. However, the seafood processing industry would like to see a more concentrated inhibitor developed. Rice contains one such inhibitor, and preliminary work on this substance, called oryzacystatin, indicates that it may prove exactly what the seafood industry has been searching for.

Arrowtooth Flounder

In the first phase of this project, researchers determined the oryzacystatin content of 11 of California's major short, medium and long grain types. Next they found that oryzacystatin is concentrated primarily in the outer bran and hull layers of rice.

Researchers partially purified oryzacystatin from rice samples and analyzed its chemical properties, such as molecular weight, stability and specificity. Initial laboratory. Tests showed that oryzacystatin is "a potent inhibitor" of the enzymes responsible for fish protein degradation.

The next step for the food scientists is to test oryzacystatin in the surimi manufacturing process: If, additional experiments bear out what initial research results indicate, rice bran may soon find itself paired up with some types of seafood automatically.

This graph illustrates how effectively oryzacystatin, a chemical component of rice, helps preserve the quality of fish used in surimi. As the concentration of oryzacystatin increases, the degradation of fish protein decreases.

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