Gonad size, color, texture and taste of Mesocentrotus nudus sea urchins collected from a barren can be improved by a short-term cage culture while being fed fresh Saccharina japonica kelp during May-July. We investigated the effect of S. japonica feeding during May-July on the improvement of gonad flavor in M. nudus collected from a barren. After feeding, we analyzed the odor-active volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the gonads using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and GC-sniffing analyses and compared to those from the gonads of wild sea urchins from an Eisenia kelp bed (fishing ground) and a barren. A total of 48 VOCs were detected from the gonads of cultured and wild sea urchins. Of them, a larger number of odor-active compounds were detected in the gonads of cultured sea urchins (25) than in those from the Eisenia bed (14) and the barren (6). Dimethyl sulfide from the gonads of sea urchins from the barren was described as having a strong, putrid odor. Sea urchin-like aromas were attributed to 2-butanol, 2-ethylhexanol, benzaldehyde and ethylbenzene from the gonads of cultured sea urchin and those of the Eisenia bed. Kelp feeding decreased the putrid odor from dimethyl sulfide, and enhanced pleasant, sweet aromas.
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