Have you ever eaten "Green Caviar?"

(Image: ayustety)

It's a remarkable seaweed, sometimes also called "sea grapes," "ocean grapes," or "Umibido" (in Japan), which has the texture of caviar and even looks like caviar, as evidenced here.

OK, so the green color gives it a Dr. Seuss quality. But I rather like that, and it's a wonderful alternative to less ecosystem-friendly traditional caviar practices, which sometimes involve stunning mother fish- and this can involve clubbing them- before extracting their ovaries to get at the roe.

Fish roe caviar

(Image: endtab)

James Cook University just announced it has joined forces with South Pacific Seaweeds Pty Ltd., with a $1.4 million investment to help promote Green Caviar (Caulerpa lentillifera) aquaculture. They're preparing to launch the unusual vegetable into what JCU calls "the lucrative Asian seafood market."

Jim O'Brien at the university writes that "in its its primary market of Japan, Green Caviar or Umibudo is considered a

delicacy. With its soft, succulent, ‘string-of-pearls’ appearance, the

seaweed is a popular feature of the local cuisine. The plant’s texture,

peppery taste, aesthetic and nutritional properties make it a favorite addition to salads and side dishes. The European and Australian markets

are emerging in response to tourism and the growing ‘foodie’ culture."

He adds, "Despite a relatively short cycle from planting to harvesting, seasonal

conditions in Japan mean supply cannot meet demand, so the crop is then

sourced from such countries as Vietnam and The Philippines. JCU researchers Prof Rocky de Nys and Dr Nicholas Paul have developed a

means of producing high-quality Green Caviar that can be grown and

exported year round, with improved taste, shelf-life and appearance."

A recent study on its nutritional content, conducted by Patricia Matanjun of the University of Malaysia Sabah and her team, found that Green Caviar contains very high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, minerals, dietary fiber and more.

Orders for South Pacific Seaweeds Green Caviar can be made by calling +61 7 4159 5904. Whole Foods buyers, and those for other markets, please get on the horn.