Something fishy about marine polony ingredients

06 March 2013 - 03:01 By Andrea Burgener

Andre Burgener has been immersed in all things food since she took over the making of the family's lunch box sandwiches aged eight (her mom could make a mean creme brulee and a staggering souffle, but could never butter the bread all the way to the edges.


NOT quite. But while we're seething about horses and donkeys sold as beef, let's look at that favourite on the sushi go-round: crabsticks.

I can't believe we still keep eating crabsticks as if they are, well, crab. This marine polony was "invented" in the 1970s in Japan, and is standard on every middle-grade sushi menu, as well as - bizarrely - on many pizza menus. For anyone who still doesn't know, virtually all crabsticks are made from fish.

That's right, the swimmy things with scales, not the crawly things with a shell. All fish. No crab. Usually a fake flavourant is used; sometimes - if you're in the crabstick pound-seats - a little crab flavour from the shells. Colourant makes up that Hello Kitty pink stripe. Those allergic to egg should know that egg white is used in many brands as a binding agent.

Perhaps one could live with all this if the things were delicious, but they're repulsive. My four-year-old got it right the last time we were at the sushi counter, where of course he grabbed the "crab". "It tastes like SpongeBob SquarePants," he declared with glee. Great if you're four, but not what most of us look for in a seafood meal.


WHEN we were little, my lovely aunt Lore was the coolest grown-up we knew.

She straightened her long blonde hair by ironing it, smoked tons of Texan a day, worked for an advertising agency in the Bo-Kaap (in the 1970s, when ad agencies seemed like all-day discos), and cooked exotic things.

This is as close as I can get to her recipe for a delicious item called Bishop's Bread.

It's like a fruit cake with hardly any cake. Just glowing bright glace fruit, nuts, and the odd raisin. It's brilliant with brie or on its own as an Easter lunch door-closer.

For three loaves (it lasts forever, so no point in making less): 600g raw nuts (no peanuts) / 4 cups chopped glace fruit / 1 cup glace cherries / 1 cup candied ginger / 1 cup raisins / 1 cup sultanas / 2 cups flour / 2 tsp baking powder / 1 tsp salt / four eggs, beaten / 1 cup sugar.

How: mix flour and baking powder with nuts and all fruit. Make sure every piece is coated with flour. Add eggs and sugar, and mix well again. Spoon this lumpy mixture into three baking paper-lined loaf tins. Press down to smooth top, and bake for 1½ hours at 160C. Remove and sprinkle each loaf with a few tablespoons of brandy while hot. Once cool, serve in very thin slices.