Moai Caviar is known as 'Umibudo'. That's the Japanese word for 'Sea Grapes' or 'Green Caviar'. These green sea grapes look remarkably like berries or grapes. Their 'poppy' structure makes eating these sea grapes a unique experience. The little balls dissolve on your tongue, releasing a pleasant briny flavor. This is a visually attractive ingredient with a gel-like, juicy mouthfeel.
Dutch, 3-Michelin Star chef, Jonnie Boer, calls it 'the caviar of seaweed'. He's very enthusiastic about this Dutch version. Along with chef Nelson Tanate, they're using this Moai Caviar in signature dishes right away. They paired it with oysters, goat's cheese, and various acidic and saline vegetables.
What's unusual is that Moai Caviar was developed in collaboration with an underwater farmer, Hendrik Staarink. Hendrik has been growing aquatic vegetables for years. Last year, he joined forces with a production location in Westland. So, the search for other underwater vegetables continues.
"These sea grapes are genuinely fresh. That results in an unrivaled flavor and mouthfeel," says a Koppert Cress spokesperson. This Dutch company is the one introducing this product. "We're now able to cultivate these sea grapes ourselves. We can offer them as a fresh product. The flavor is, therefore, optimal."
"In your mouth, it feels like its been freshly harvested from reefs in the Pacific Ocean's subtropical waters. Until now, sea grapes have only been available, pickled. That's changed now. Before you use the preserved variety, you have to desalinate it, using tap water. That unique 'poppy' quality partially returns. But, this alternative is never as good as fresh. Fresh sea grapes have that lively bite."
Moai Caviar is perfect for topping canapés, served with cocktails. They can also be used functionally in various dishes. These include fish, seafood, shellfish, tempura, sushi, soup, salad, or rice dishes. It can be combined in deserts, to make them that extra special. "Simply rinse them gently and allow to dry. You eat them raw, like sashimi. Quickly dunking Moai Caviar in ice water improves its texture and flavor. But be careful not to pour dressing over these sea grapes. They'll wilt," says the Koppert Cress spokesperson.
The word 'Moai' originates from a group of elders in Okinawa, Japan. This is one of the original 'Blue Zones'. 'Blue Zones' are areas across the world where people live measurably longer. Moai Caviar can be traced back to Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In their natural environment, these plants grow rapidly. They're an important source of healthy food for locals. These sea grapes are traditionally used as salty vegetables. They contain valuable nutrients, and all its parts are edible.
Moai Caviar is available year-round. It's cultivated and transported in freshwater. Moai Caviar can easily be kept for up to seven days at a room temperature of 17-25°C. It should be kept out of direct sunlight.