«Sushi Samurai» visits vast algae farm in Spain

Director of the World Sushi Skills Institute (WSSI), Hirotoshi Ogawa, visits the Spanish Bank of Algae in Telde, Canary Islands, Spain, April 4, 2019. EPA-EFE/Quique Curbelo

TELDE.- A Japanese expert known as the «Sushi Samurai» was in the Canary Islands on Thursday to sample seaweed produced at the Spanish Bank of Algae to explore the potential of the farm.

Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa, who was appointed an ambassador by the Japanese government to share knowledge about the Asian country’s culinary delicacies around the world, was visiting an algae research facility on the island of Gran Canaria to taste the vast range of seaweed the farm cultivates.

Ogawa highlighted the «numerous possibilities» the algae at the Spanish Bank of Algae (BEA) had to offer, adding that he was confident the produce «could be exported,» particularly to his home country where these marine plants are «very famous and important» to Japanese nutrition.

The bank cultivates over 1,800 species of algae, of which Ogawa tasted several varieties.

The Japanese sushi master said he was surprised at the huge variety of species the tiny island harbored.

The much-loved nori variety that Japanese cuisine heavily relies on is not bred there although the celebrity chef did say he would be able to use some of the types of seaweed that were farmed to decorate his dishes or to make makis and nigiris (rolls of rice with raw fish and seaweed).

«Currently there is a lot of movement across Europe and in particular in countries in the south of the continent, where the sector offers a lot of possibilities,» Juan Luis Gómez Pinchetti, scientist in algal biotechnology at the Institute of Oceanography and Global Change at Las Palmas University, said.

«The Canaries is in a spectacular strategic zone to develop this type of production because it is very well positioned within the blue economy sector,» the scientist added.

«Algae are very healthy and in future they will be used more,» the Japanese expert added.

The BEA is a research project that belongs to the Scientific and Technological Park of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which is subsidized by the regional and national government.

Ogawa is a sushi craftsman who has traveled the world to spread his passion for sushi delivering courses in over 40 countries via the World Sushi Skills Institute of Japan.

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