And there are hopes that the first butter of its kind in the world, developed by Cork-based iASC, the Irish Atlantic Seafood Company, could take off after completing trials with a company which supplies luxury in-flight meals to British Airways and Lufthansa — their butter could become a key filling ingredient in the airlines’ crab crayfish ravioli dish.
Managing director of iASC, Colin Ross, who founded the firm with his Prestige Catering business partner, chef James Grimes, said they were delighted with the success of the butter, but have much bigger plans for the future.
“Everybody who launches a product believes in it but we have a truly unique product in this shellfish butter,” Mr Ross said.
“It is the only one of its type in the world. We were the first to come up with a process to make long-life protein butter.
“But we have a range of products in development and have plans to launch 20 more products over the next five years.
“We feel that the seafood realm is under served in terms of innovation. But that’s changing.
“And we want to be setting the trend and on the crest of that wave.”
iASC began in 2011 when the pair pitched an idea to BIM’s head of innovation, Susan Steele. They developed mussel butter and took part in Bord Bia’s Foodworks programme, which resulted in the development of the world’s first Umami butter — Umami is the ‘fifth taste’, after salt, sweet, sour and bitter. They developed a patented system to dry, sift, sieve and blend rope-grown Irish mussels and wild, brown crabmeat, before adding dried flakes of Dillisk seaweed and seasoning to an export-standard Irish butter.
Irish Shellfish Butter won the BIM Seafood Innovation of the year 2013 at a prestigious Blas na hÉireann/Taste of Ireland awards.
It can be used in starters, patés, terrines, spreads, and grills, mixed with cream, and used in main courses in, on or under fish. It can be used in soups, pastry, souflés, in rissotto, lentils, and in mash.
Unlike ordinary butter, it doesn’t soak up flavours in the fridge, and doesn’t ‘weep’ at room temperature. It can be frozen for up to two years and has a 90-day shelf life if chilled.
“It is a completely natural, sustainable, 100% Irish product packed with flavour,” Mr Grimes said.
“It brings out the natural flavours of the food it’s cooked with. It’s an easy fix for the home cook or for the adventurous chef.”
It has been used by world-renowned multi-Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire in his acclaimed Reflets restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel in Festival City, Dubai.
It has also been hailed by legendary Edinburgh-based seafood chef, Roy Brett, by Mitch Tonks, the Devon-based seafood champion, by French chef Pascal Aussignac, who is putting it in snails in his Comptoir Gascon restaurant in London, and by Vincent Menager, the executive chef of the five-star Sofitel Hotel in London, who is using it in his gourmet macaroni lobster and cheese dish.
The product has been listed in Selfridges and is due to be on the shelves of its London foodcourt before the end of the year.
iASC is working with six distributors in the UK and Scotland, the product is listed with some Musgrave stores here and the firm is in talks with Tesco Ireland.