Uh…I swear I have not lost my mind. There exist such a thing. An enzyme called transglutaminase acts as a bonding agent for different types of proteins. It is not a new discovery. It’s mostly used in industrial applications like improving the binding of sausages or restructured steaks but has recently found usage in restaurants that would like to create more consistent portion sizes. In upscale restaurants, it may be used to create something unusual like this tuna-scallop example from my Harold Mc Gee seminar last year.
I do not really see an application in the home kitchen. But a girl has to try and satisfy her curiosity , right? I was able to get an Ajinomoto representative to send me a sample of Activa -its brand name- a couple of months ago since I couldn’t find it anywhere( It has since become available at Lepicerie).
I finally found the opportunity to play with this ingredient last weekend as the “Hungry” Hubby was making kebabs again and I had him set aside 4 pieces of tenderloin for me. Activa is in powder form. All you have to do is to sprinkle it liberally at the point where you want to fuse the meat , press it firmly and refrigerate overnight.
We salted the chunks of meat before throwing it on the grill. That way , we could make sure that seasoning did not affect the bonds that formed.
I know I did not do a very professional job glueing the pieces together, but at least the chunks held.
The small piece that broke off in the picture was a natural separation of the meat.
There was no weird after-taste that came about from the use of Activa. The meat remained succulent, retained it’s texture and beefy taste.
The Ajinomoto rep told me that once the packet is opened , it is important to seal and freeze the remaining powder as it loses its effectivity very quickly once exposed to air. That is another reason I think this will be my first and last experimentation with transglutaminase.