It looks like your average prawn dumpling. It may even smell like it. But the shrimp meat within isn’t fished off the ocean or reared on a farm. It began life in a petri dish. This is Shiok Meat’s prawn dumpling prototype, made with stem-cell-grown shrimp meat. Three of their pilot eight dumplings were showcased at the Second Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit on 29 March. Says co-founder Dr Sandhya Sriram, “When we opened the steamer, everyone got a whiff and said that they smelt like the ocean. The taste (sweetness) is exactly what regular shrimp tastes like. We have to do a bit of tinkering on texture for sure, and are already working on it.”
Still in its R&D phase, tinkering is an everyday affair for this company started last year. Dr Sriram and co-founder Dr Ling Ka Yi, who met as Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) colleagues, are more than up to the task. Dr Sriram has been working on stem cells from her undergrad to postdoctoral research days. A few years ago, she left full-time research to manage her other technology startups. Dr Ling, on the other hand, is a developmental stem cell biologist with over a decade of experience. She did her Bachelors and PhD at University of Wisconsin-Madison and was last a research fellow at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR.
What spurs them on is the goal of launching their cell-based shrimp meat first in fine-dining restaurants and specialist groc