Food tech startup Kuleana is reinventing the Native Hawaiian fish dish poké. By launching its plant-based tuna across Poké Bar restaurants in North America, consumers will now have the opportunity to try out vegan poké.
San Francisco-based Kuleana focuses on addressing the lack of vegan versions similar to cuts of sushi-grade raw fish. Through a new agreement, its plant-based tuna will be available at 40 Poké Bar locations in California, Texas, Georgia, Oregon, and New York.
Fish-free raw seafood
Founded by Jacek Prus and Sònia Hurtado in 2019, Kuleana develops sushi-grade plant-based fish alternatives like bluefin tuna to salmon.
In an interview with Green Queen, Hurtado said: “We saw a huge white space when it comes to seafood alternatives. People love raw fish and since it is such a unique texture we see it as a good challenge to create something new.”
The co-founders further shared that they want to replace seafood with sustainable alternatives. “We are really concerned about how we’ve been treating our oceans, from plastic pollution to crude fishing methods that unnecessarily kill many animals as bycatch or through habitat destruction. We were specifically drawn to Blue Fin tuna, as it is often a critically endangered species, and an important contribution to the marine ecosystem as an apex predator.”
We are really concerned about how we’ve been treating our oceans, from plastic pollution to crude fishing methods that unnecessarily kill many animals as bycatch or through habitat destructionCo-founders of Kuleana
All plants tuna
The 100% plant-based tuna is created with the help of world-renowned chefs and R&D experts. The product is developed in a way to replicate the taste and texture of traditional tuna.
“Our priority is to serve delicious plant-based tuna that doesn’t sacrifice when it comes to environmental and social responsibility, and is of course an uncompromisingly delicious culinary experience,” Prus said in a statement. “This partnership demonstrates the growing demand for plant-based protein alternatives. We are humbled to be providing an accessible and delicious plant-based solution to the foodservice sector.”
The tuna is made from radish, algae, and bamboo fiber and contains omega-3 DHA, iron, and vitamin B12. The cholesterol-free food has less than 0.5% of saturated fat. Compared to a traditional tuna fillet, 100 grams of Kuleana tuna holds 5 grams of total fat.
Yoon Ju, CEO of Poké Bar said that he is excited to have the first plant-based tuna bowl in the poké industry. “With this partnership, we aim to provide an all-inclusive poké experience to all our Poké Bar family; both domestic and international, thus continuing to do our part to promote sustainability.”
Furthermore, Kuleana has the backing of investors like Reddit founder Alexis Ohania, Y-Combinator GoodSeedVentures, Cruise founder Kyle Vogt to achieve its mission of putting an end to the unsustainable fishing industry.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong-based food tech Green Monday unveiled a new OmniSeafood range. It contains 6 products including an ambient shelf-stable “OmniTuna”. These products will be created from soy, pea and rice protein.
Food giant Nestlé recently made its first foray into the alternative seafood sector with a plant-based tuna under its Garden Gourmet label.
Lead image courtesy of Kuleana.