Plankton, the new ingredient for gourmet dishes

Written by EFW Staff

Plankton, from whale’s food to precious ingredient

There’s an innovative green ingredient that is literally on everyone’s mouth in the recent months and make its appearance in the cuisines of the chef of the world, gaining a great success. It is usually called plankton, but is it that plankton that the whale eat? No, it is not the same thing! Whales eat zooplankton as krill, which consists in small crustaceans. In the cuisines of the big starred restaurants, instead, the chefs cook with phytoplankton, entirely of plant origin.
More precisely, just an unicellular seaweed has been insulated from the phytoplankton, it is called Tetraselmis chuii that is cultivated in specific plantation made with lots of transparent flowerbeds and long Plexiglas tubes where the photosynthesis take place. After 4 months the crop can be harvested with a yield of 1 gram of lyophilized product per litre of water, that will enrich refined and starred dishes.


Plankton, taste and properties

Neither seaweed nor fish as you can think, the taste of plankton is really sophisticated and thick, it remind a crustacean, with a herbaceous aftertaste for a real sensorial experience. This is at the core of the food chain of all the ecosystem because it feeds from the microorganisms to the cetaceous. Thus, it is at the centre of the creation of the sea-life and it is rich in plenty of properties like iron, calcium, iodine, phosphorus, fat acid, omega 3 and 6, vitamin E and C and magnesia, just to mention some of the minerals that it contains.

How to use plankton for cooking?

Plankton has been considered as edible food for the human being in 2014 after more than 5 years of research and experiment, but actually at the moment it isn’t within everybody’s grasp. In fact it is sold wholesale at the price of 3000/4000 euro per kilo! It is lyophilized, thus powdered and has to be dilute in water with 3 or 4 parts of water per part of plankton. It has to be measured out carefully and used above all as seasoning of some dishes. Chefs suggest to use it inside the bread dough, in a mayonnaise, as decoration on the dish or a risotto, not adding it to the broth but at half of its cooking.

The recipe of the chef

In Italy, this ingredient entered our houses, even if virtually, thanks to the famous culinary TV show Masterchef Italy, that in one of the episodes of the sixth edition put to the test the participants with this peculiar ingredient. The winner of the sixth edition, Valerio Braschi, gained the positive opinion of the panel during the final challenge, thanks to its starter of plankton foam. If you are not scared by the ingredients, but above all the production process, try to prepare this dish. Here you are the recipe:

The recipe: “Sea in a spoon with plankton foam” by Valerio Braschi



150 gr of potatoes
2 gr of plankton
4 sea scallops
1 handful of cocoa beans
EVO oil


Boil the potatoes in abundant salted water, drain (keep the cooking water), peel and smash. Mix the same weight of cooking water with the potatoes and sift it. Mix the plankton and mix. Cook in bain-marie for 15 minutes. In the meantime open the sea scallops and take the shellfish, giving a quick wash. To cook them, burn the aromatic herbs in a pan and use them to smoke the sea scallop for 5-6 minutes, then cut in thin slices.
In another pan, sear the cocoa bean and grind them roughly.
Create your finger food placing in the bottom the plankton foam, then the sea scallop slices and decorate with cocoa beans.

Recipe adapted from Masterchef Italia 6
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EFW Staff