Innovative Food Alternatives: Vegan Chili Crab Pie
SITizens get creative in constructing innovative food products
The SIT and Massey University Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day 2021 showcased SITizens’ creativity in constructing innovative food products. The Vegan Chili Crab Pie emerged as one of the top three projects, with its plant-based take on an existing product familiar to Singaporeans and global consumers.
(From left) Julene Chua, Nur Afiqah Binte Mohammad Yusof, Wong Siew Eng, Ong Wai Peng, Chua Wei Xuan, and Kam Xue Ting, with their creation – Ready-To-Eat (RTE) Vegan Chili Crab Pie.
As a nutritious source of protein, meat is a major component in the consumption patterns of most people worldwide. It is this critical reliance on meat for the sustainability of the food system that results in much attention being paid to trends in meat consumption and the alternative protein space. With conversations around environmental and welfare issues gaining traction in Asia, consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of a meat-heavy diet on health and the environment.
Students from the joint SIT and Massey University Food Technology Programme – Julene Chua, Nur Afiqah Binte Mohammad Yusof, Wong Siew Eng, Ong Wai Peng, Chua Wei Xuan, and Kam Xue Ting – created a vegan version of the Chili Crab Pie in response to the evolving consumer demand for meat-free alternatives.
Based on their market research, focus group sessions and consumer surveys, they found that there were limited options of meat-free Asian products. The team collaborated with industry partner Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing to extend their range of meat-free products, and successfully developed a ready-to-eat (RTE) Vegan Chilli Crab Pie, which is not only vegan, but also convenient for the busy consumer.
The RTE Vegan Chili Crab Pie developed by the students.
Extensive trials and multiple experimentations with novel plant-based ingredients were conducted to replicate the taste of meat and flavour. The high protein product requires minimal preparation and provides the full experience of a chilli crab dish – without the mess that comes with deshelling the crabs.
Freshly-baked pies from the project team’s lab trials.
“The most challenging part of this project was achieving the crab meat’s flaky and fibrous texture and taste. Another aspect was to ensure that the pie crust remained crispy and flaky after reheating the pie,” said team member Wai Peng. “The numerous product iterations paid off when more than half of our sensory evaluation panellists could not tell that our pie was vegan, and felt that it resembled the typical taste and texture of chilli crabs,” he added.
The team was commended for marrying a popular local dish with an unconventional product concept, as well as making the product a convenient dish to prepare.
The annual Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day by SIT and Massey University is a culmination of learning outcomes from final-year Food Technology students. It presents an opportunity for graduating students to pitch their food products and business cases to both faculty and industry partners, applying the knowledge acquired over their four years of studies. These innovative projects include a comprehensive look into the students’ idea generation, prototyping, proposals for scaling up, capital and operating cost estimates, food safety, and risk analyses.
Image credits: SITizens Julene Chua, Nur Afiqah Binte Mohammad Yusof, Wong Siew Eng, Ong Wai Peng, Chua Wei Xuan, and Kam Xue Ting