The shrimp weren’t bad, but a greasy layer of fat would have definitely helped the flavor. (All right, they were downright weird. I’ll leave mock shrimp to the restaurants.) The mock shrimp had the texture of shrimp, but smelled oddly sweet, and even tasted a little sweet – and odd. Here’s the strange part, though. I flip the package over to read the ingredients, and all is looking familiar except for one item – curdlan.
What the heck is curdlan? I look it up (love the computer) and this is what it says: “Curdlan gum is a microbial fermentation extracellular polymer prepared commercially from a mutant strain of Alcaligenes faecalis var. myxogenes.” I’m not a scientist, but I think that means that it’s a weird substance from weird bacteria. So, it’s at least natural.
What does it do? “Curdlan gum is tasteless and produces retortable freezable food elastic gels.” Ok, so it makes things gell-like and thickens things (curdling). Curdlan was approved by the FDA in 1996 as a formulation aid, processing aid, stabilizer and thickener or texturizer for use in food.
Scroll down a bit on the search page and I see curdlan and WHO (World Health Organization). Why do they care about curdlan as a food additive? Oh, this was a fun read! They studied the effects of curdlan on rats, lots of other animals, and humans. In short, it says it's safe; hence it’s in my mock shrimp. Although, you may experience constipation, increased flatulence, occasional diarrhea, weight loss…..
Don’t be scared of curdlan. I had never heard of it, looked it up, and thought it interesting. Here’s a list of things you may find curdlan in. Keep your eyes peeled and scream when you find it. It’ll be kinda like Pee Wee Herman’s “secret word” game. Curdlan. Aaaaagghhhh!