Kosher prawns ready to come out of their shell


Seafood has been strictly off the kosher menu for thousands of years, but thanks to innovative food scientists, "prawns" could soon become part of Shabbat dinner.

Under halachic law, Jews are forbidden from eating anything from the sea unless it has both fins and scales.

The new product, called Shr!mp, is made by baking red algae with a plant-based protein powder and could be available in Britain from as early as next year.

The fake shellfish has been created in the labs of an American company called New Wave Foods which, according to its website, aims to provide "truly sustainable seafood for everyone".

"We're not reproducing shrimp cells," said Dominique Barnes, co-founder of New Wave.

"We use a process that's similar to baking a loaf of bread."

The product is expected to be available in the UK some time next year, but already kosher restaurants are looking forward to serving it.

Sam Kay is joint owner of the White House Express in Hendon and Golders Green, as well as dairy restaurant Isola Bella – all of which serve fish.

If the "prawns" were given the green light by the London Beth Din, Mr Kay would be happy to put them on the menu.

"You can already buy kosher versions of crab sticks, so why not?" he said.

"As times and trends change, so does the kosher palate which is now much more extensive than it once was."

But would the fake seafood actually be halachically acceptable. According to Rabbi Daniel Epstein of Cockfosters & N Southgate Synagogue, it would depend on the rule of Mar'it Ayin, translated as "visual perception or interpretation".

Rabbi Epstein explained: "If it can be interpreted suspiciously, causing someone to think that a Jewish person was transgressing a law, then we have to be extra careful in how we ensure that the wrong impression will not be inferred.

"If an imitation prawn was placed on a plate in front of me, I would not eat it.

"However, if a sealed bag of these same prawns would be placed in front of me with the packaging clearly showing that the product was kosher... that would be an entirely different story."

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