In the industrial area of Singapore, real shrimp meat is grown from microscopic crustacean cell samples. When fed a nutrient-rich “soup” that mimics that of the wild, a single cell can reproduce more than a trillion times per clump of gray, translucent flesh.
This enterprise is headed by Sandhya Sriram and a group of scientists.
Similar work is being done around the world in other startups and research labs growing beef, pork, chicken and high quality specialty foods like bluefin tuna and foie gras, but Shriram is the only company known to focus on recreating shrimp – the main product of many Asian dishes.
The finished Shioka product has the texture of shrimp shrimp and has already been tested to make shumai, a Cantonese dim sum with a yellow dumpling wrapper. But its uses are potentially diverse in Chinese cuisine.
Singapore has become a leading player in a promising technology once ridiculed as “Frankenmeat” after Dutch researcher Mark Post presented the first “test tube burger” to a group of scientists at a press conference in London seven years ago.
Researchers have been able to bring down the price of meat, called cell-cultured meat, or pure meat, from nearly $ 300,000 it cost to make the Post’s debut pie, though not enough to actually sell it to the public. Shumai Shioka, for example, cost $ 300 apiece.
In the edible space race, at least 55 companies around the world are now developing some varieties of cell culture meats, according to the Good Food Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes alternatives to livestock.