SARASOTA -- Mote Marine's food lab started in 2014 and many Bay area restaurants are already serving their 'sea vegetables' and farm-raised Red Fish.
“They really look beautiful if you look at it," said Mote Senior Scientist Kevan Main, as she looks at a fresh crop of purslane. "It’s a very beautiful colored leaf.”
Main, along with other scientists at Mote Marine’s Aquaculture Park, have developed first of its kind technology to grow local seafood for the local community.
Mote is growing Red Fish in tanks and using the nutrients from the Red Fish to feed ‘sea vegetables,’ Saltwort and Purslane, which are found in nature along Florida’s coastline. The vegetable is extremely healthy for you.
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“They are high in vitamins and antioxidants," said Main. "So it is really good to eat.” Mote's food lab started last year and Main said it's been a huge success.
The Aqualabs have been selling their fish and veggies at farmers markets and local restaurants like The Seafood Shack in Cortez.
“This is the pickled Purslane. It’s been marinated in the white vinegar, sugar, Juniper Berries and a little bit of garlic,” said Chef Gerard Jesse, garnishing a plate of Pacu Ribs with Purslane.
Jesse uses Mote’s sea vegetables in almost all of the dishes, especially the Purslane because of its flavor.
“It actually has that crispy succulent salty flavor to it,” said Jesse.
Seafood Shack has been in Cortez for 45 years but came under new management last year. The restaurant tries to use as many locally sourced and natural ingredients as possible. Jesse said he is thrilled that Mote is undertaking their food lab project.
“It’s beyond cool, it’s fantastic! I love it, you know. What they are doing, I’ll always support what they are doing,” he said.
The Aquaculture lab is looking to add more ‘sea vegetables’ to their growing site over the next couple of years and well as build a larger facility.