a bit about… Transglutaminase, the “Meat Glue”

Lately I’ve been working in the lab with the enzyme transglutaminase, notable for its use in the food industry and the molecular gastronomy persuasion of fine dining.

The transglutaminase I am working with, and the one used most often in food applications, is the fermentation product of the bacterium Streptoverticillium mobaraense. Activa RM produced by Ajinomoto Company Inc. seems to be the most popular formulation (Ajinomoto commercialized MSG over a hundred years ago, is the largest manufacturer of aspartame, and provides many other amino acid products for food, pharmaceutical and lab applications.)

The enzyme catalyzes the formation of bonds in proteins (any proteins: meat, dairy, tofu, eggs, wheat, wool, hair…) and therefore can be exploited in multifarious industrial applications:

-to make dairy products creamier

-to alter the texture and water holding capacity of emulsified meat products

-to create restructured meats (for cold cuts, portion control, unprofitably small pieces of meat)

-to increase the lift and shelf life of puff pastry

-to increase wool and fabric strength

The culinary possibilities for this enzyme are equally numerous and diverse. Often, transglutaminase is used to stick different meats to one another, (“surf and turf” and “turducken” bring new imagery to mind) and many food bloggers have done this at least once.

Heston Blumenthal and Wylie Dufresne, the star chefs who brought the enzyme to the kitchen, have used it to alter textures and push boundaries for what can be done with meat. Dufresne, for instance, made the famous shrimp noodles from 99% shrimp…a low carb pasta option.

I’ve heard Ajinomoto might send a sample to you for free if you ask nicely enough. Thicken your protein shake! Make yogurt bars! Craft artistic harlequin sushi with purely seafood! Stick bacon to anything!  Mosaic steaks and sandwich meats! The possibilities are really endless.

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~ by ishadatar on August 10, 2010.

One Response to “a bit about… Transglutaminase, the “Meat Glue””

  1. [...] the molecular gastronomy crowd has figured it out, they can do all sorts of fancy things with it:http://ishadatar.wordpress.com/2…This answer .Please specify the necessary improvements. Edit Link Text Show answer summary [...]

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