Then found out it isn’t quite what I thought it was.
There were hundreds of little, purple, pimpled objects that looked like earlobes, or maybe tiny kidneys. And then there were … what, exactly? Something that looked like a blood clot half-smothered by sand. Something else resembling a squashed breast implant. A scrap of rubber, maybe, that had sprouted lime-green fur.
Sounds appetising, right?
It isn’t. Well, some of it is, mainly in Korean cuisine. But what it is, is fascinating.
They’re called tunicates and they’re invertebrates that have been siphoning, filtering, and squirting water for hundreds of millions of years. Many of these creatures are composed of colonies of organisms called zooids, nestled together in a gloopy “tunic.” This sheath is made partly of cellulose, and functions as a sort of gelatinous exoskeleton, like strong, squishy armor. Sea pork can be bologna-pink, purple as bloody liver, or the creamy beige of roast turkey. The name is said to come from the fact that dead tunicates sometimes resemble slabs of glistening fat.
For a good explanation of this non-pork stuff, you should read this piece.
Sea Pork (Aplidium stellatum) – Flickr – Andrea Westmoreland