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Transglutaminase

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I've been getting more and more into the modernist techniques and I've been working on a couple of dishes that require transglutaminase.

 

I bought a packet of Activa EB, I think that's Activa RM in the States, the calcium independent version.

 

I've tried it on various products with no luck, I've tried it dry and in a paste form to no avail. I've used lots and a little bit with no difference. The last try I got some pork chops, used dry on 1 batch and paste on the other, vac packed them to get maximum pressure, chilled them for 24 hours and pulled them apart with no more difficulty than if I used corn flour.

 

I've spoken to the chef at the company I bought it from and he says it sounds like I'm doing everything right but they've sold plenty of it from that batch they received with no other complaints. He says to send some back to them and he'll try it and see.

 

I was just wondering if anyone else has had a problem like this and if I'm doing something really stupid.

 

I've got another tester in the fridge now that I'm going to cook before unwrapping to see if that helps, not the solution I want though to have to cook it before I can do anything else to it.

 

Any help would be much appreciated.

post #2 of 26

Wurzel from the best of my knowledge - I've never seen / used Activa EB just read about it.   It is a cure-cook type used in the processing of sausages and surimi etc.

 

It must sit in contact (usually a ground mixture) and then be cooked for it to bind the ingredients.

 

It is not the same as Activa RM - other than they can both be sprinkled dry onto a protein.

 

---- Edit to add. Test your meat-glue. It might simply be bad, as it has a very short shelf life compared to other powders.

 

 

Quote:

 

 

IV. Storing and Testing TG
Ajinomoto ships Activa products in vacuum sealed foil pouches. Unopened, these pouches are good for 18 months if stored below 21°C (72°F). Once open, however, the enzymes become vulnerable to moisture. Opened pouches should be tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer. The freezing temperatures will not hurt the enzyme and the low humidity in the freezer will prevent degradation. Never leave large quantities of TG out on the counter, especially in open containers—they will quickly become garbage. Remove only the amount needed using clean, dry utensils and return the rest to the freezer. Keep the working container closed when not in use. A vacuum sealer is useful for breaking a batch of TG into small packages for sealed storage in the freezer.

How to test meat glue: a) Rub a lot of meat glue into a piece of raw chicken; b) if it just smells like chicken your glue is no good; c) If it smells like wet dog you're good to go!

How to test meat glue: a) Rub a lot of meat glue into a piece of raw chicken; b) if it just smells like chicken your glue is no good; c) If it smells like wet dog you're good to go!

There is a way to test if your meat glue is still working. Get a small scrap of raw meat (we use chicken). Apply a liberal amount of meat glue to the meat and massage it in. Sniff the meat (don’t inhale the powder). If the meat smells like a wet dog or a wet wool sweater, your glue is good. If it doesn’t, your glue is bad. The next time you get a fresh shipment of TG, run the “wet dog” again and get a sense for how strong the smell is. After a while you will be able to tell how good your glue is (how high the enzymatic activity is) by how strong the wet dog smell is. Don’t wait too long to sniff after you massage in the glue because the smell dissipates after a couple of minutes. The wet dog smell is, I believe, caused by the small amount of ammonia released in the TG reaction. With one notable exception (see the above section on Safety Nutrition and Taste), I have never detected this smell in a finished product. The ammonia dissipates before you eat the product.

 

copy'd from http://www.cookingissues.com/primers/transglutaminase-aka-meat-glue/


Edited by MichaelGA - 5/2/13 at 11:14pm

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #3 of 26

Oh my wet dog, you guys,  Let me know what restaurant you're cooking at and I'll avoid it!   What are you making, meat sculptures??? 

Maybe you should keep this kind of stuff in the professional chef forums where we mortals don't dare to tread. 

And remember, just because something so far has not been shown to be dangerous, that doesn't mean it won't be discovered later.   When i was a kid it was considered perfectly safe to have xray machines in kids' shoe stores.  Until they discovered it wasn't. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #4 of 26

There are 2 or 3 different kinds. I have used all powders. I have found it good on fish. I really have no use for it on anything else.

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

@siduri - Transglutaminase is a natural enzyme found in all meats, all we're doing is adding a bit more than is naturally there to achieve our goals. It has a bit of bad reputation thanks to the excessively negativemedia portrayal, nefarious uses by big food companies and, to my mind at least, the abhorrent use by some restaurants to make 'steak' out of trimmings and cheaper cuts. I truly believe that anyone doing that should be prosecuted for endangering life if they are making fake steak and selling it anything but well done. I'm using it for reshaping of a product that will always be cooked well done so there is no problem with the outside of the meat being on the inside and the enzyme itself is completely broken down at temperatures above ~60°C.

 

@MichaelGA, thanks a lot for that, I'll pull it out of the freezer and try the chicken test, very helpful.

post #6 of 26

That's reassuring, wurzel.  The trans sounded like some transgenetic experiment, and long chemical words are offputting.  I still think it's weird to be gluing meat - with something that produces ammonia and smells like wet dog, albeit for a little time.  I had never heard of the stuff from media or anywhere else, i just like food to be made of food.  I'm put off by the fake meat made with soy protein, "soy milk" and other stuff that's "natural" but the result of some elaborate process.

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 

I agree Siduri, as chefs it makes us feel all sciency and clever but I think in general we'd be much better off using normal sounding names instead of chemical names, it just scares people. One of my favourites is calcium hydroxide, sounds like it would kill you in 3 seconds flat doesn't it? My nan called it pickling lime...

 

Personally I will ensure my waiting staff understand these ingredients I use and are capable of explaining what it does and why I use it. Also, I'd never use any of them on more than a couple of dishes so as not to limit anyone who chooses not to eat it, I don't want to lose customers over my own cleverness wink.gif

 

I think food is going through a transitional period right now where the industry has been given a license to experiment and do crazy things. I'm sure 90% of the oddities that arise from this will disappear in a few years tops but the remaining 10% will be accepted and incorporated into the mainstream. I'd say sous vide cooking is the best example of the latter, there really is no better way to cook tougher cuts of meat. Foams and airs may well be an example of the former, I don't see them being around for too long myself.

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

That's reassuring, wurzel.  The trans sounded like some transgenetic experiment, and long chemical words are offputting.  I still think it's weird to be gluing meat - with something that produces ammonia and smells like wet dog, albeit for a little time.  I had never heard of the stuff from media or anywhere else, i just like food to be made of food.  I'm put off by the fake meat made with soy protein, "soy milk" and other stuff that's "natural" but the result of some elaborate process.

 

Ahh, another chance for the friendly neighbourhood biochemist to come for the rescue... 

 

Ok, glutamine is a natural amino acid - every protein has some. Most will know it in form of its salt, glutamate. That's why glutamate actually carries the savoury umami flavor- it is a mechanism of our body to tell us "look, there, protein rich food, I need that right now". Incidentally, the reason why I do not like to flavor with MSG - it is cheating exactly this system, and such things never go too well.

 

Anyway, glutamine has a free carboxy-amide group, looking like this Glu-(CO)-NH2. Now, there are other amino acids with free amino groups, such as lysine. It's terminal amino group looks like this: H2N-Lys

 

Transglutaminase does the following, hence the "trans" part of the name which has nothing to do with transgenics:

 

It takes the glutamine and for example the lysin:  Glu-(CO)-NH2. + H2N-Lys and exchanges the NHgroups between the both, so we end up with Glu-(CO)-NH-Lys. The two are now cross-linked, as we call it. Essentially, if the both amino acids were on different proteins, those proteins are now glued together. Of course, that leaves us with one amino group NHand a proton H, which recombine to make NH- which would be ammonia, hence the wet dog smell.

 

This is a perfectly natural thing, happening in your body all the time, tightly regulated, of course. However, if you drop huge amounts of it on meats, it'll efficiently glue them together.

 

I have no problem with applying that in the kitchen - as long as you do not use it to make crappy ingredients appear better - such as industrial pseudo-ham...

 

Now, to the application. Enzymes like transglutaminase are fickle things. They do not like too much heat, they do not like too much cold, they do not like to few or to much salts or acids in their environment. In the lab, we control these parameters very finely - I am seriously surprised that it works in the kitchen at all. Even under lab conditions, I do not expect a certain enzyme to work 100% consistently. So if it doesn't work, just write it off. Probably not even your fault - the little princesses of proteins have a temper ;)

post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 

Nice explanation GeneMachine, I understood at least half of it biggrin.gif

 

So, would you not expect the cross linking to work efficiently in a meat fridge at around 1°C? That could be my problem if so.

 

I had another crack at it yesterday before I send it back to the supplier. I cut the meat up smaller than before to maximise contact and had it in the fridge overnight. Today I cooked it before unwrapping it and it was stuck. Not perfectly, I could pull it apart but it would serve my purpose at least. That would make sense if it's a temperature problem right? As every part of the meat has slowly gone from 1°C to 74°C it's all passed through the optimum binding temperature. Am I making sense or talking out of proverbial?

post #10 of 26

I'd expect the crosslinking to work very, very slow at 1°C - I'd have to look up the specifics, but generally, you would want to keep it at room temperature for as long as food safety allows. Those enzymes are generally optimized to work fastest at body temperature. That's their natural environment, after all.

 

In the lab, if want to stop an enzymatic reaction, we usually slam it into an ice bath. Similar to your meat fridge. Not much going on there. When you cooked it before unwrapping, you definitely got some activity going on before heat deactivating it at probably around 42-47°C. Insofar, yes, your guess makes sense!

post #11 of 26

Ok, I read up some more. Now, I do not know exactly what kind of transglutaminase you are using - it is not a single specific enzyme, it is a huge class of molecules. However, most should indeed work best at temperatures between room and body temperature. So, this is the biochemical point of view - I would suggest adding it to your meat, wrapping it, then dropping it into a water bath at probably 32-35°C for 20 minutes or so. If that works with the food safety angle, that is.

 

If you got any more information on the specific type of transglutaminase you have, I could probably give you the optimum temperature for the fastest reaction.

post #12 of 26

With most preparations ie; Activa RM or Biobond WM etc. the particular TG enzyme is 'selected' to work in conjuction with a particular protein that makes up the bulk of the mixture.   

 

For activia RM it is Sodium caseinate with a maltodextrin carrier and a small amount of TG designed to rapidly bind sodium caseinate.  

 

The majority of them are designed to work quickly and in the lower food safety range of temperatures.

 

The only downfall of this 'fast-acting' is that the enzymes bond to the proteins that they are packaged with.

 

It makes for a very reliable bond though - if your mixture is still viable.

Thus the wet-dog test!

 

:)

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the help, I am loving this forum.

 

Done the wet dog test, definitely stinky but not very strong, maybe my batch is not the freshest. I guess with the TG reacting with the sodium caseinate, if it hasn't been kept well temperature wise all the way here it could be half dead right?

 

I shall persevere as I've found a way to make it work more or less, hopefully the next batch I get will be better.

post #14 of 26
Quote:
if it hasn't been kept well temperature wise all the way here it could be half dead right?

absolutely - it needs to be sealed in oxy / moisture barrier packaging with an a desicant and moisture absorber in the pack. 

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #15 of 26

Many apologies Wurzel - I hadn't actually looked up anything in Modernist Cusine...I  was just going from memory of services past.

 

Here is a paraphrased quote from MC'

 

 

 

Quote:

 Transglutaminase needs moisture, protein, and time to work.  Refrigeration for 12-24 hours is usually required to set an Activa gel completely, but the setting time can be reduced to just one hour by warming the solution to 45C for 10 minutes or to 55C for 5 minutes, before rapidly chilling it.  Take care to not heat TG above 60C before the gel has set, or the enzyme will denature and become useless.   (Activa RM)

 

 

I typed that out - not copy-pasted, so if something seems odd please check again ... it's damn late... yet again.

 

----------

 

btw - what are you working on?  I'd love to know - PM me if you don't want to share publicly! 

 

/cheers

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #16 of 26

Interesting to follow all these chemistry explanations, and particularly since nobody is going to grade me on them!  

 

I would still like to know, Wurzel, what are you making with this stuff?  meat sculpture?  a meat fort?  a meat basket to fill with sauce?  the mind wanders...

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

I don't mind sharing at all, I'm working on a smoked python 'carpaccio' dish. I'm sure in the states you can get nice big pieces of python but here in the UK it's quite small. If it were bigger I'd cook whole and slice like smoked salmon but the small size makes it pretty unusable so my solution is to glue the pieces together into a sausage and slice nice round pieces of it.

 

Thanks for the quote Michael, I don't remember reading that at all, I think the amount of info that book blasts into your brain I'd have to read it all a few times to remember half of it. I'll definitly give warming it up a try.

post #18 of 26

Smoked python carpaccio with (organic enzyme) glue - wow, wurzel.  I think i'll pass.  I didn;t know python was eaten at all, but i guess as snakes go, it must be plenty meatysmile.gif.    Sorry if my questions divert your thread from your question.  I understand that much of professional cooking has to do with stretching the imagination to new experiences.  Good luck with it. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #19 of 26

Some of the other less exotic things that i've seen done include;

 

- shrimp carpaccio wrapped around slivered sous-vide vegetables with a ground peanut and chili dipping salt

 

- reverse two fillets of fish and attach together to even out cooking and presentation

 

- attaching chicken skin to various fish loins to get a really crispy crunchy outter layer (think battered fish with no fish just crusty chicken skin)

 

- bacon enveloped haloumi that gets crispy on the outside and very creamy on the inside (think mozza stick without batter or crumbs just bacon holding it together)

 

- shrimp and various other fish noodles (no binders to mask flavours)

 

- seafood cakes without eggs / flour / potatoe... just bound crab / lobster / shrimp etc.

 

- bacon wrapped pork loin or anyother food 

 

- creamy creamy zero-fat yougurt with out added milk proteins or thickeners

 

There are a very large number of uses - almost as endless as the imagination.

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 

I bet even Blumenthal's fervid imagination didn't grasp what he was introducing to the restaurant world when he started using it. I think right now I'm most interested in it's used for non-meat proteins, I can see some interesting applications there if I can get the damned stuff to work properly. And sticking bacon to anything of course...

 

@siduri, no worries there, we're all here to learn. I can but hope our conversation here has at least shown you not to write off new techniques and ingredients automatically, even if you don't want to come to my restaurant and try my creations crying.gif

 

Another interesting aspect of this product and other 'modernist' binders and gelling agents is gluten free food. With more and more people finding out how destructive gluten can be I think it's only going to get more important to chefs to be able to cook without it where possible.

post #21 of 26

Transglutaminated python carpaccio. Ok. That is.. interesting. I'm in London every odd year for business purposes. Next time, I'll drop you a message, Wurzel - I think I know where I am going to eat then!

 

Now, one really basic question, while I can - and will, as you have seen above - pontificate on the biochemistry behind the whole thing, I have to admit that I never used it in the kitchen myself. I am thinking of a very mundane application: Would it work to slice open a pork or veal filet, put in some stuffing, and then reseal the cut with transglutaminase? Thinking about something like a pork loin stuffed with dates, apricots, pine nuts and so on, then resealed to give a perfect cross-sectional pictures as if it never had been cut open?

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneMachine View Post

Would it work to slice open a pork or veal filet, put in some stuffing, and then reseal the cut with transglutaminase? Thinking about something like a pork loin stuffed with dates, apricots, pine nuts and so on, then resealed to give a perfect cross-sectional pictures as if it never had been cut open?

 

Absolutely - works wonders.   Pretty much every commercially available IQF chix cordon bleau /  kiev / swiss melts / broccoli & cheese will be closed using a bit of TG.   Same with bacon wrapped stuff.

 

I've carefully roll cut tenderloins before... pounded out flat, spread with a thin layer of stuffing (usually herb or fruit) then rolled back up and sealed the seam.  Carefully cook sous-vide, then sear with a torch and cut into portions.   Perfect little pin-wheels that don't fall apart very beautiful presentation.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #23 of 26

guys i already tried activa (tg) never heard of it until i ordered activa (rm) and received the (tg).. tried it on a filet, sprinkled over both sides of each part and put it together, rolled it and kept it in the fridge for next day and nothing happened at all... does anyone knows what's the difference between all those names GS, TG, RM etc etc and is there a special way to use it maybe i did something wrong?

 

thx

post #24 of 26

I haven't looked it up in a while but I am pretty sure "TG" isn't a formulation but just the abbreviation for "meat glue" writ large.  If you actually received RM (the best all purpose formula, from what I have seen) you ought to be good on your fish roll.

 

That said...

 

You might need more than you think.  A good dusting on all contact points of the fish (like icing sugar on a slice of cake). 

 

Like so many other things with fish, make sure it is good and dry before dusting.

 

Your role needs to be good and tight, really tight!  Any sign of air pockets in your plastic wrap, pop with a pin, and torque that roulade some more.

 

Also, the TG is pretty fussy about degrading...(you probably already know this...)was kept in the freezer?  You can test it with a little water.  take a really small amount of TG and make a paste with it, give it a bit and sniff.  If it has a "wet dog smell" (this is a cliche, but as a dog owner, an accurate one!) the enzymes should be doing their thing.

post #25 of 26
Thx allan, but is it ok to use RM with beef or only fish? And i heard an idea abt Vacuuming after rolling, do you think that's better???
post #26 of 26

Yup. RM is as close to all purpose (again, from experience) and will work anywhere it comes into contact with protein.  There is another that is better for slurry applications (will remain active in slurry form for extended times).  

 

Sealing after forming is a good idea, to a point.  I would pop some tiny holes in the plastic wrap first, just to allow the pull a good chance at pulling out any air pockets. 

 

Is your plan to form your roll, then cut and cook?  Or are you planning on SVing the fish?  If you are doing a low temp cook, you can pretty much cook it shortly after forming.  The TG kicks in very fast at those temps.  If you are cooking this way, be sure to salt brine the fish first (best practice in SV, anyway) to firm the meat.

 

You can also "bulletproof" the process by adding a touch of gelatin powder to the fish to give you more available protein for the TG to bond to.

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