Animals Restaurants Science

As The USA Adopts Dry-Aged Fish, These Are Key Facts To Know About It

We’ve all heard of dry-aged steak and the incredible flavors that can develop from that process by now. In recent years in the United States, that practice of preservation has extended beyond beef and into the world of fish.

At the forefront of that movement is Liwei Liao, aka “The Dry Aged Fish Guy.” Over the past couple of years, his seafood market, The Joint, has turned into a hub for dry aging quite a few different kinds of fish. You’ll be able to find roughly a dozen or so in his cavalcade of dry-aging refrigerators stationed throughout the market.

Liao and his team are servicing not just the local neighborhood in Sherman Oaks, California, but are also supplying restaurants with dry aged fish all across the state’s coast. Overall, there’s at least 30 restaurants in the Golden State now serving dry aged fish, with demand growing exponentially.

As this movement continues to expand in California (and elsewhere), here’s a few things to know about how dry aging works, where it’s rooted from, and how we can benefit from it.

Dry Aging Fish Is Rooted In Japanese Traditions

While relatively new to consumers in the United States, dry aging fish has been happening in Japan for hundreds of years as a means of necessity. It takes time for fish to make it from getting caught to the restaurants that sell it, and what happens to the fish in that time span is critical to keep it from going bad. Dry aging techniques from Japan played a huge role in that, and is where a lot of the modern practices originate from.

Outside of Japan, you can find specialists in dry aging fish in places such as Hong Kong, Austin, and of course, Liao’s Los Angeles-based fish market. In Hong Kong, chef Max Levy dry ages fish for his two izakaya (Okra Hong Kong and Okra 1949), while chef Jay Huang at Austin’s Lucky Robot has a variety of dry aged sushi and sashimi available.

The Joint stands out from these places because it is both a supplier to restaurants and a service to consumers. You can actually walk in and get a dry aged cut to take home and experiment with for yourself.

Dry Aging Fish ‘Cleans’ It, And Can Be Different From Aging Steak

When it comes to dry aged steak, you’re probably expecting multiple weeks’ worth of aging, a crust that can contain mold on the outside, and a deep change in flavor that includes some funkiness.

Can fish get dry aged to that point? Yes, but the main goal here is to keep it fresh longer and get rid of excess blood, slime, and moisture. Liao continually pointed out to Foodbeast that you’ll notice a lack of a strong fishy smell, a cleaner flavor, and a slightly firmer texture in dry aged fish as a result.

Most small fish are only dry aged for a few days to achieve that result, while larger cuts of big fish like bluefin tuna can take a couple of weeks or more.

It’s Easier And More Forgiving To Cook At Home

Because excess moisture is removed in the dry aging process, fish tends to not curl up, shrivel, or shrink if its gone through a few days of dry aging. The result is a more tender and juicy piece of fish that can be slightly overcooked and will still maintain that unctuousness.

If you do go to The Joint and pick up a cut of fish to cook, this might help you feel a little more reassured in not screwing things up. Of course, you can also just make some incredible sashimi out of the fish.

In Terms Of The Science, There’s More Questions Than Answers

Liao told Foodbeast that each different kind of fish that he dry ages at The Joint has to be experimented on to find the right conditions to get a proper dry age on it. Over tons of trial and error over the years, he’s been able to dial in the correct parameters for each kind of fish his spot commercially produces.

In terms of the actual science behind it, however, published research remains scant. A search in scientific databases found a single article from 2020 on the subject. Thus, most of what we know about dry aging fish comes from what is understood about how the fish changes from years of tradition and practice.

As consumers, however, the biggest things we can take away is that dry aging keeps fish fresh longer, makes it easier to cook, and changes fish in ways that makes it more delicious.

If you’re interested in trying dry aged fish, or learning more about the process, check out the full Foodbeast video featuring The Joint on Facebook.

Edibles Science Sweets

Cloud 11 Cannabis Confections Make Edibles A Gourmet Experience

Photo by Autumn Communications

It’s fascinating to watch how cannabis is becoming more present in our everyday lives. From the colorful and creative branding, to the inventive ways in which we consume it, what was once taboo, has now become a household name.

Alone, edible cannabis has experienced considerable innovation due to growth in demand. Companies today have a heavy focus on developing faster-acting and more strain-specific edibles as consumers become more savvy. Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm Headset compiled data which shows that sales of adult and medical use rose 60% across seven state markets in 2020.

One company taking the edible experience further is Cloud 11, a Los Angeles-based cannabis-infused confections brand. The founders Chef Nick Pritzker and Eleven Madison Park alum Chef Mauela Sanin set out to introduce gastronomy to edibles, set on elevating “the experience of cannabis itself.” Buoyed by advances in infusion technology, Cloud11 delivers a truly haute confection.

Their first offerings include three desserts; Salted Peanut, Strawberry Pink Peppercorn, and Black Sesame Yuzu. Salted Peanut is like a buttercup in a tuxedo, it has a tiny crunch before the salty sweet ganache sweeps you away. Strawberry Pink peppercorn, however, is a creamy drop of sweet bitterness that melts on your tongue. While Black Sesame Yuzu is deep and rich, every bite deserving to be savored. I must say that these confections are closer to a delicacy than a snack. 

Photo by Autumn Communications

Chocolates come with 2mg and 4mg THC/CBD options which are available online via white-glove delivery exclusively in Los Angeles. Flavors come in 11-piece tins with two-size options. Single tins include one flavor and dosage while double tins offer two flavor and dosage options. If you’re looking to truly elevate your dinner party or impress a special someone, you can visit Cloud 11 confections here.

Adventures Science Technology

Scientists Turn Plastic Waste Into Vanilla Flavoring

Plastic plays a considerable role in our everyday lives. From the beverages we drink, to our packaged foods, plastic is used in every way imaginable. The upside is simple, it makes life easier. The downside is that its pervasiveness also has a tendency to impact our environment negatively.

Plastic waste pollutes from pavements to the Pacific. Humankind is often impulsive with innovation. In other words, things are created faster than ways to manage them. A fun fact is that there’s been more plastic manufactured within the first 10 years of this century than the whole of our previous one. Now we produce and throw away over 380 million tons of plastic each year.

That sounds bleak. But it’s not all plastic doom and gloom. There have been and will continue to be countless approaches to reducing plastic waste. Popular approaches include community clean ups, recycling of used-products, reusing products and “upcycling”. These are simple methods everyone can make a part of their daily habits. Yet while those methods tend to imply a necessary mindset shift, science has found another approach altogether. 

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have discovered a way to upcycle plastic waste into vanilla flavoring. This is not a joke. Vanillin is a popular chemical used in the food industry and is often referred to as “imitation vanilla”. In 2018, global demand for the chemical exceeded 37,000 tons. That’s more than the demand for natural vanilla beans. One huge red flag is that 85% of vanillin is synthesized from fossil fuel chemicals. So clearly it isn’t the most eco-friendly of flavors. 

The research was published in the scientific journal Green Chemistry and uses engineered E. coli bacteria to convert TA (terephthalic acid) to vanillin.  Terephthalic acid and vanillin’s chemical compositions are very comparable and the engineered bacteria only needs to make a few changes to the hydrogens and oxygens that are bonded to the same carbon foundation.

Creating the same conditions for brewing beer, scientists heated a microbial broth to 98.6 fahrenheit for 24 hours. This effectively converted 79% of the TA to vanillin. According to Joanna Sadler, of University of Edinburgh, “This is the first use of a biological system to upcycle plastic waste into a valuable industry chemical and it has very exciting implications for the circular economy.”

It will be exciting to watch how this develops. Who knows, in the future maybe ice cream, yogurt, pastries and many more will be produced from plastic waste. The next steps for the University of Edinburgh research group is to continue modifying the bacteria to improve conversion. My hope is that efforts such as these will inspire more intelligent approaches to global issues.

Alcohol Beer Food Policy Science Sustainability

Finnish Brewery Showing How All Waste, Even Goose Poop, Can Be Used To Make Beer

Photo courtesy of Ant Brew and Lahti European Green Capital

Each year, the European Commission designates one city as the “Green Capital of Europe” in recognition of their efforts towards sustainability. 2021’s Green Capital is Lahti, Finland, where 99% of the town’s household waste is already repurposed.

To show just how far you can go to reutilize waste to make other things, Lahti brewery Ant Brew has created a line of “Wasted Potential” summer craft brews that all use waste, ranging from fruit pulps to goose poop.

Photo courtesy of Ant Brew and Lahti European Green Capital

The goose poop won’t actually go into the beer (although the fruit pulp will), but is instead being used in a food-safe way to smoke the malt used to make one of Ant Brew’s waste-inspired beers. That particular stout will help local parks get cleaner by removing goose droppings from the premises.

Also in the lineup is a witbier that is brewed with orange peels from a local market’s juice pressing station, imbued with fruit purees just past their best by date but still great as an ingredient for beer.

Other ingredients that will be used in the Wasted Potential Beers include roadside weeds, wild herbs, and mosses.

Photo courtesy of Ant Brew and Lahti European Green Capital

While only Finnish folk will be able to drink this beer once it’s released for the summer, the entire world can take a lesson from what Ant Brew and Lahti are doing in the brewing realm.

The biggest takeaway here is that if you really put your mind to it and get creative, virtually any waste can be repurposed to make something unique and useable.

Science Sustainability

Slaughter-Free, Cell-Cultured Chicken Set To Debut In The USA This Year

Photo courtesy of Upside Foods

For years, we’ve been getting teasers of what lab-grown meat could look like, with videos and commentary on cell-cultured meatballs, fried chicken, and more promising a future where meat could be made without killing animals.

That future could take a monumental step forward this year, as Memphis Meats, which just changed its name to Upside Foods, announced that it plans to debut a cell-cultured chicken in the USA by the end of 2021.

Photo courtesy of Upside Foods

Upside’s product, called Upside Chicken, is made by taking a sample of chicken cells and placing it in a nutrient-rich environment. The cells have everything they need to grow on their own and develop into chicken meat.

Claims that Upside makes about this chicken is that it could have a massive impact from a sustainability point, and also limits bacterial contamination since the meat is “cultivated in a clean facility from cell to harvest.” The company is also working with the USDA and the FDA to ensure quality standards of production are met.

Photo courtesy of Upside Foods

Similar to a plant-based meat purveyor like Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat, Upside’s goal is to limit the environmental impact of modern meat production. Instead of taking out meat entirely, however, Upside is using a slaughter-free method that makes the exact same chicken we all know and readily consume.

Pending regulatory approval, Upside plans to launch their chicken product by the end of the year, although no official launch date has been confirmed as of yet. Upside has confirmed to Foodbeast, however, that the plan is to debut their cultured meat in restaurants first.

What we do know, however, is that previous studies have shown that at least a third of Americans are open to trying the product, meaning there is a market and a possibility that cultured meat weaves itself into the future of how we produce and eat meat.

Health Science

Study Finds That US Schools Have The Most Nutritious Food Amongst Places We Buy From

Photo: Africa Studio // Shutterstock

We get our food from a whole lot of different places, whether it be grocery stores, ordering from restaurants, or at work.

Turns out that where we get our food from has some correlation to the nutritional quality of those meals, and the ones with the highest quality actually come from schools.

A recently published study from Tufts University that looked at nutrition data patterns found that from 2003-2018, school meal quality rose to the point that they were our most nutritious food source (2018 is the most recent year that national data for this is available).

Just under a fourth (24%) of the meals consumed at schools were of poor nutritional quality by 2018. In order from lowest to highest percentage of badly balanced meals, the next best food sources were grocery stores (45%), entertainment venues/food trucks (52%), and restaurants (80%).

It should be noted that the above numbers were in terms of meals served to kids. For adults, meals consumed at schools were not evaluated, but the most nutritious food source was grocery stores (33%), followed by food trucks/entertainment (45%), work sites (51%), and restaurants (65%).

A press release from Tufts University attributed the high quality of school meals to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which created new standards for school and early child care nutrition. The policy contributed to a 33% drop in proportion of poor quality meals served at schools over the last 13 years.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act also resulted in highly equitable changes across the board, with the nutritional improvements coming from school meals being on par across ethnicity, education, and household income.

In contrast, other food sources had “significant disparities” when it came to improvements in quality across these different demographics.

While it’s great that we know where the most nutritious food can come from, it should be noted that just nine percent of all calories consumed by children in that time period came from schools. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, it’s likely that number has even been lower in more recent years.

The study overall found that across the United States, all major food sources could improve on the nutritional quality of their meals, and special attention needs to be given to the equity of how the food is bettered.

Health Science

USA Set To Add Sesame As 9th Major Allergen Requiring Labeling

Photo: Shawn Hempel // Shutterstock

The United States currently requires foods that contain eight different major allergens to be labeled with a warning for those who may react to them. These include tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat, milk/dairy, fish, shellfish, and eggs.

Soon, the country will also be adding sesame, the ninth most allergenic food source in the United States, as the ninth major allergen to require those warnings.

Sesame’s updated status comes with passage of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 14th. The Senate already passed the bill back in March, meaning it now heads to President Biden’s desk. According to Allergic Living, the President is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The USA is not the first country to add sesame as an allergen, as the EU, Australia/New Zealand, and several other countries already do so. However, this represents a major step forward in getting more awareness around these lesser known food allergens and making sure consumers are aware if a product contains something they could react to.

As part of the FASTER Act legislation, the FDA will also begin developing and implementing a risk-based model for establishing other food allergens that may also be labeled in the future. Some of the other common food sources this might pertain to in the future would be celery, mustard, or sulfites.

The Secretary of Health and Human Service has 18 months to work on this, as well as reporting on potential therapeutics that could treat allergens and ways to help prevent their onset.

Congress’s passing of the FASTER Act marks some of the biggest food safety legislation enacted since 2011, when President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) into law.

Science Video

Guy Literally Slaps Chicken And Steak Until They’re Perfectly Cooked

A couple of years ago on Reddit, someone decided to ask how much energy it would take to cook a chicken by slapping it. The internet, of course, responded as best it could, with answers saying how fast you would need to slap it (over 3,700 miles per hour) or how many times total (over 23,000 times).

Of course, this was all just theoretical until recently, when science YouTuber Louis Weisz did the unthinkable and cooked a whole chicken and steak purely through the power of slapping.

Weisz accomplished this culinary feat through some science and robotic ingenuity, putting together a piston, a cutting board for slapping, and some aerogel for insulation. This kept all of the heat generated by slapping the meat inside of the food, meaning that it wouldn’t get lost and the entire thing would cook.


Eat your heart out @gordonramsayofficial ##mythbuster ##science ##chickenslap ##engineerscience ##extremescience ##physicsmemes

♬ WII SHOP TRAP – Flixterr

It took a few attempts, but Weisz managed to get a steak up to a perfect medium rare (about 60 degrees Celsius) and keep a whole chicken at 55-58 degrees Celsius long enough to kill any bacteria and render the meat cooked. While he didn’t eat the chicken (one of the protective bags broke into the meat), the steak was tasty, even though the texture was a little off from all of the slapping.

Weisz wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, however, since the energy needed to cause all of that slapping is a lot more than what your oven would use to cook the same chicken. Nonetheless, the world of culinary science has solved another puzzle bequeathed to it by the internet.