Kuhlbarra – An Exclusive Look Into The Barramundi Experience
Rise and shine! The team got up in the wee hours to head to Kuhlbarra, Singapore’s largest commercial fish farm, which is near the southern waters of our little red dot. Kuhlbarra was born out of one man’s passion for aquaculture and sustainable farming. He is none other than Joep Kleine Staarman, who founded the sustainable open ocean farm for premium barramundi(also known as the Asian sea bass) in 2007.
We were given a glimpse of the agricultural practices behind the barramundi farms – how the barramundi fish gets transported, processed and delivered to consumers’ doorsteps, all within 48 hours. Besides our local patrons, Kuhlbarra also supplies their barramundi to countries like the United States of America, Australia and Hong Kong.
To promote the barramundi’s ability to thrive, the farm had to be built strategically at the south coast of Singapore. The pristine waters, optimal temperatures and strong currents provide an oxygen-rich environment.
The farm was made up of what looked like several enormous reservoirs situated in remarkably clean waters. The reservoirs were so spacious and deep that each of them can house up to 4000 barramundis. The barramundis are first sourced from the motherland of barramundis, Australia, before they are placed in a nursery in Pulau Semakau for quality control and checks, before finally entering these reservoirs.
The barramundis sure were heavy!
Termis shared that barramundis live deep in the reservoirs and it will take a feeding session to lure them to the surface. A pellet shooter operated by a motor boat will fire food pellets upwards so they create a ripple effect when they hit the water. In the wild, a barramundi detects its prey near the water surface through the ripple effect caused by the prey’s swimming patterns. This feeding session thus serves to replicate the barramundi’s natural eating conditions.
As part of their farm-to-fork model, Kuhlbarra adopts a harvest-to-order approach. This means that the barramundi is harvested, processed and delivered only upon customers’ order to ensure optimal freshness. After the feeding session, a larger boat with a lifting hook circled the reservoir. With the help of the hook along with the gargantuan strength of 3 to 4 men, the net within one of the reservoirs was raised to reveal hundreds of great barramundi which were quickly reeled out and immersed in 4-degree Celsius cold water. Besides putting the fish in hibernation, the cold temperature retains the texture of the barramundi and prevent diseases from emerging. Staying true to their code of unbroken cold chain, the barramundi is then sent to a cold room where the fish are filleted, deboned, vacuum packed, and sent out, all within 48 hours to ensure the utmost freshness of their barramundi.
Kuhlbarra is collaborating with 4 restaurants under the Unlisted Collection group, Cheek by Jowl, Salted & Hung, The Market Grill and Pollen, to bring you the Barramundi Experience. Known for their sweet and clean taste, and firm texture, barramundis are extremely versatile and suited for an array of cooking techniques.
Pollen, is an upscale space decked with large dining room windows that frame a view of the sea.
The Cured Barramundi (available on the set lunch menu, 3-courses – $55++ / 5 courses – $85++) was served alongside a watermelon salsa, avocado puree, watermelon vinaigrette and fish floss. The dish was garnished with breakfast radish, thinly sliced watermelon and baby purple basil. The perfectly-seasoned barramundi had a mellow taste which was elevated by the creaminess of the avocado.
Salted & Hung
Salted & Hung is a contemporary Australian restaurant helmed by executive chef Drew Nocente. We were served a portion of pan-seared barramundi ($36+) with clams in a thin layer of prawn stock. Again, the barramundi was cooked to perfection. Its skin was lightly crisp and its flesh was oozing a subtle sweetness.
Kuhlbarra’s farm-to-fork concept rewarded me with a greater appreciation of Kuhlbarra’s efforts towards sustainable and ethical aquaculture practices for local barramundi farming. Indulge in the barramundi experience and order at http://www.kuhlbarra.com/ now! Do contact them at their hotline for bulk or corporate orders.
Note: This is an invited tasting.