Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
OmniSeafood’s golden fillet, one of six plant-based seafood products it makes, can be deep-fried and is perfect for a dish of fish and chips.

Seafood and chicken next for plant-based food entrepreneurs who are aiming to slow overfishing, climate change

  • OmniSeafood’s line of six plant-based products, including fish fillets, deep-fried golden fillets, minced tuna, and crabmeat aims to slow seafood consumption
  • Another company keen to help save the planet by jumping into the plant-based protein race is Next Gen, which is offering Tindle – ‘chicken made from plants’

The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy claims that, with current fishing practices, there could be no more fish in the oceans by 2048.

While some marine scientists say a fishless ocean is an unlikely scenario, related issues such as overfishing, microplastics found in seafood and other types of pollution are serious concerns for people who are mindful of the seafood they eat.

One of these is David Yeung, founder and CEO of Hong Kong’s Green Monday Group and OmniFoods, which three years ago introduced plant-based OmniPork to help mitigate pork consumption.

At a presentation at the Cordis Hong Kong hotel on World Ocean Day last month, he gave some sobering statistics: in 1950, annual global seafood consumption was 20 million tonnes; 70 years on, it has ballooned to 180 million tonnes.

David Yeung is founder and CEO of Hong Kong’s Green Monday Group and OmniFoods.

“Can the ocean endlessly supply food to us?” Yeung asked. “The problem is there is no way the ocean and the world can keep up with that kind of appetite we have been building.”

Yeung underlined another telling fact: Hong Kong consumes far more seafood than other places. “The global average of per capita seafood consumption is 20.3kg per year, while Hong Kong is 3.5 times the global average,” Yeung says. In 2017, Hong Kong was the second highest consumer per capita of fish and seafood in Asia at 70.75kg, second only to the Maldives at 90.41kg.

China-Japan fish fight could make UK’s Cod War look like small fry

A way to slow seafood consumption is to offer plant-based alternatives that are as tasty and nutritious. OmniFoods is doing just that, unveiling its OmniSeafood line of six plant-based products, including classic fish fillets, deep-fried golden fillets, minced tuna, and crabmeat.

Like OmniPork, OmniSeafood can be adapted for Asian and other types of cooking. Its classic fillet is suited for Sichuan shui zhu yu, or whole fish boiled in an oily broth covered in chillies, or for pan frying. Its golden fillet can be deep-fried for a dish of fish and chips, its minced tuna slips easily into tacos or sushi rolls, and its crabmeat mixes with other ingredients to create a refreshing salad.

OmniSeafood is made with non-GMO soy, peas and rice, has no trans-fat or cholesterol, and contains omega-3.

A tin of OmniTuna.

While it is not yet available at the retail level, diners can sample dishes made from OmniSeafood at Kind Kitchen in Central, and at all Green Common stores except the Alexandra House location. Ming Court in Wan Chai and restaurants in the Cordis Hong Kong hotel will offer OmniSeafood on their menus from mid-July.

Another company keen to help save the planet by jumping into the plant-based protein race is Next Gen, with Tindle – billed as “chicken made from plants”. It contains only nine ingredients compared with fellow alternative protein makers Beyond Meat’s offering that uses 18, and Impossible Foods’ which has 19.

Because Tindle is plant-based, its production has less of an impact on the planet than raising and slaughtering chickens does, requiring 74 per cent less land, 82 per cent less water, and producing 88 per cent less greenhouse gases, the company claims, citing Blue Horizon’s 2020 Environmental Impacts Of Animal And Plant-Based Food Report.

Tindle plant-based chicken dishes at Katsumoto Sando in Central.

The product was launched in Singapore and is now in Hong Kong, on the menus of 16 restaurants including Katsumoto Sando, Big Birdy, Alvy’s, Bo Innovation, Potato Head, and Cococabana.

Currently, Tindle plant-based chicken is available only in restaurants, where chefs are developing innovative ways of using it that might help determine in what form it will be available for retail later.

Marc Jolly is the growth director for Asia Pacific for Tindle’s producer, Next Gen. He says global meat consumption is expected to rise 35 per cent by 2050, and by even more in Asia. That growth is not sustainable, he stresses.

A green revolution: the rise of plant-based ‘meat’ in Hong Kong

The company understands that consumers like eating meat and are not going to give it up easily. “From a meat eater’s perspective, a lot of the vegan or veggie plant-based meat options have been only ‘average’,” Jolly says.

That is why Tindle “has to taste great, and it has to be something chefs can really work with ... [throughout] our whole design process we had chefs involved – so it’s made with chefs, for chefs”, he says.

Tindle is formed into patties that are like a malleable dough. In its raw form, it can be moulded into shapes, torn into strips and then, just like chicken meat, grilled, pan-fried, deep-fried, roasted, and even poached.

Chef Mustika Wayan of Poem restaurant with Tindle spinach chicken salad.
Chefs transform it into varied dishes. At Uma Nota, Tindle is convincing as a chicken skewer that is breaded and fried with a vegan avocado mayo.
At Poem, it works well marinated in a savoury sauce and fried as part of a salad, and serves as an alternative protein in a rich and satisfying coconut-based curry.

Jolly says Tindle’s ingredients include soy, wheat starch, gluten, sunflower oil, coconut oil, oat fibre and natural flavouring. “The nutrition is very similar to chicken. The protein, calories and fats for 100g, we’re the same, but Tindle doesn’t have cholesterol and it does have dietary fibre.”

Hong Kong’s reluctant celebrity chef: ‘I never planned to do TV’

W Hong Kong’s executive chef, Rafael Gil, doesn’t use plant-based products much, but when given the opportunity to try Tindle he took it and was “shocked” by the results.

“What I like about Tindle is you can play around with it, you have the base [product], and then add your condiments, season it, and then do different formats, like skewers, balls, patties,” he says.

“To be honest when I received the sample [that looked like dough], I thought this will not work – but I was shocked when I tested it. I made a simple burger patty, seasoning it with salt, pepper and olive oil.

The W Nachos Tindle Fiesta by W Hong Kong executive chef Rafael Gil. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“For me, the most crazy thing was the texture. It has a very similar texture to chicken, the fibres. That surprised me.”

He has created the W Nachos Tindle Fiesta, a vegetarian burger using a deep-fried Tindle patty that is seasoned with tequila and jalapeños, covered in breadcrumbs and served with Cheddar cheese and guacamole, with nachos on top.

Gil says he appreciates Tindle’s versatility that provides him with another option when faced with increasing requests for vegetarian or vegan dishes.