Make a guess: How long would it take to prepare this juicy, tender slab of baby back ribs?
For me, it was just about 15 minutes.
That’s because I didn’t have to concern myself with cleaning, marinating and cooking. I just had to remove it from its vacuum bag, thaw it and heat it up.
This product is among a few ready-to-eat items offered by FoodRific, a startup founded by Mr Winston Cheong, 54, who’s formerly in the finance and IT industries.
“I saw a need for ready-to-eat food (as opposed to ready-to-cook food) for the country, for households as well as for the industry of pubs and restaurants,” said Mr Cheong when we met at his central kitchen in Admiralty.
“There are a lot of people that are just realizing that when they have something ready-to-eat, they can have dinner in half an hour and it’s something nutritious,” he added.
Convinced of the gap in the market, Mr Cheong and 3 relatives decided to start Foodrific last year. Mr Cheong took 7 months to work out the supply chain, get the necessary licensing and experiment with different recipes to get the right flavors for the ribs.
Now, he typically has his stock flown in weekly from Brazil. In the central kitchen, Mr Cheong will marinate the meat in a variety of flavors and vacuum seal the ribs in individual bags.
This ensures cleanliness and helps maintain batch consistency during the cooking process as the sauce is sealed with the meat, he said.
The sealed ribs are then given a “water bath” as they’re fully submerged in water and slow cooked in a boiler for 22 hours at about 60 deg C.
Mr Cheong said: “Because it’s cooked at a low temperature, you don’t have much vitamin loss and mineral loss”.
Floating in the boilers are many hollow plastic balls, which are used to control the rate of water evaporation.
Once the ribs are cooked, they are frozen and kept for distribution.
The preparation of each batch of ribs and the sauce takes 2 full days in the central kitchen before they are up and ready for sale on e-commerce platform Qoo10.
Mr Cheong believes his products will do well as more Singaporeans are likely to look for more convenient and time-saving ways to enjoy nutritious food.
For now, he’s selling his products online only, but he hopes to make his ribs available in local supermarkets by the end of this year.