Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Transglutaminase, Applying a bit of Science for Technique

Now I have spoken about Transglutaminase in prior blogs, even given photo examples of dishes where I put this to good use. But I wanted to elaborate a bit more, especially for the guests of the last dinner and cooking class. The last dinner featured Activa in a few dishes; Chicken Rouelles; Shrimp Chorizo; Filet Mignon. We did a great demonstration and explained the stuff and how it works. The class members all got 2 100g bags of the RM and GS to play with at home. None of this would have been possible if for the amazing customer support of Ajinomoto.

I contacted them a few months back to inquire about their products directly. I mean the stuff is a whopping $82 + for a 2 lb bag online. I thought I would start buying in bulk at a cheaper rate. They were kind enough to send me some samples to play around with to see which I liked best. My first experiment was pretty basic, playing with scraps and trying to form a bond.

When I decided that the next cooking class would venture outside of some peoples comfort zone and feature cooking sous vide with the immersion circulator, I decided to bring in some additional techniques as well. I added a few dishes to exhibit the Activa, some NZorbit, Agar and more. When Gary Boell of Ajinomoto heard about my class, he contacted me directly.

Gary was asking to meet me personally and work on a few techniques. I happily obliged and he arrived to my house one afternoon with 20 lbs of terres major, a lab jacket, arm length gloves, a power drill, a 2 feet extension with a fan blade, a few rubber totes and many packages of Activa RM, GS, TM and YG. We had a blast. He demonstrated some of the possibilities of the stuff. He brought along some great plastic molds in the form of perforated plastic casings that we used to stuff the meat into perfect rounds. I had previously used the old standby of plastic wrap!

We spent the better part of 3 hours playing around with the stuff and discussing the possibilities. I immediately wanted to try a seafood application and was thinking lobster. However, after examining "Ideas In Food" I found they successfully made a shrimp chorizo. That would be perfect for my next dish. So I used their idea and created my own formula and recipe for spicing the chorizo. Angie's Mother, being such an amazing Mexican cook inspires me to use chiles and spices that are not known by many.

Anyhow, we used all the terres major, and we discussed bonding seafood, chicken, and even dairy or dessert applications. Gary was kind enough to get Alex Talbot and I in contact on the phone. We discussed some options for activa YG in dessert and cheese applications. It is amazing stuff as well.

After this was all said and done, a few days later 2 boxes arrived. One box was full of samples of all the activa products, enough for all the class members. The other box was full of detailed folders on the use of their products. What an amazing company. The care and consideration they put into their product is something else. With all the huge accounts they have, the meat packers, world known chefs and more, they took the time to advise me on their product personally. Amazing. Special thanks to Gary Boell and Alex Talbot for taking the time to speak with me regarding the Activa products.

Activa is a protein binder or glue if you will. It contains salts, carbohydrates and enzymes that catalyze the bonds between proteins. Once the meat has absorbed the activa, it is undetectable in any trace. It is a natural product, some contain gelatin and others do not. It is a product that is helping Chefs to achieve results before impossible. It needs credit for its place in the advancing science of food industry. I like the possibilities that it brings to the table. It enables me to think outside of that standard box, to create and manipulate form and shape, and to combine ingredients not commonly combined. For instance, Filet Oscar, or a scallop molded into the center of a steak, just for instance. Also the ability of the YG allows us to transform common ingredients into uncommon forms, such as a warm mousse that holds shape, or a hot panna cotta.

Shrimp Chorizo
Adapted from Ideas in Food

2 lbs raw shrimp cleaned
5 grams cumin
10 grams smoked paprika
10 grams chile de arbol
10 grams guajillo chile
5 grams sweet paprika
2 grams oregano
20 grams pressed garlic
10 grams salt
Olive Oil
7 grams activa rm

Roughly chop about 1/2 of the shrimp. Puree the remaining shrimp with all ingredients except the activa. Puree to a paste. Remove paste to a bowl and combine with chopped shrimp. Add the activa in 2 sessions, folding each into the batter.

Pipe the mixture into perforated bags forming sausage shape. Cook sous vide at 58* Celsius for 20 minutes then cool in ice bath immediately.

Slice the chorizo and sear briefly in olive oil and serve.

The above recipe was my own creation based on the existing one that Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa had previously created. I added quite a few more ingredients and this chorizo had a nice bold and smoky flavor. Perfect compliment to my dish. (Pictured Below in previous post.)

I have also used the activa to form the chicken logs if you will. Cooked sous vide makes for a perfect shape and the chicken turns out moist and tender, like nothing you would imagine for a traditional breast. Here are a few photos! Enjoy!


John Paul Khoury said...

Really nice. Kudos on introducing your class to transglutaminase!

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Anonymous said...

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Erik Slater said...

I am curious how you applied the transglutaminase to the chicken and bacon? was it dry and you rubbed the chicken with it and then applied the bacon? or was it in wet form? I have had no success with this ingredient. I want to wrap halibut with pancetta using it.


Pajo's Boutique Catering said...

It depends on your application, are you using RM? GS? If GS you have to make the slurry properly in order to activate and hydrate it. The RM is easier to use. But, RM is only greatly effective when you store the product on intense vacuum overnight to bond the protiens. During cooking, the vacuum needs to remain in order to preserve the bond. For Halibut, dry well and get your pancetta ready, sprinkle both the fish and pancetta on all area that you intend to bond, sprinkle liberally. Best to wrap in plastic wrap for meddallions or place in vacuum bag for sealing. Seal overnight and cook sous vide at desired temperature and then pan sear to finish and get that crisp. You will notice the pancetta will want to peel away at the seam, so best to sear the seam side down first.

Christoffer said...

I've bought "transglutaminase, activa eb", what's special with it? i can't seem to find out if it's Rm or Gs?


Anonymous said...

EB I am not familiar with. But from general reading it is used for binding of protiens without the need to heat for securing the bond. So raw applications will work.

GS was initially designed for seafood but is great for meat and seafood but must be hydrated by means of a slurry, which must be done correctly.

RM is a dry application which works well. This is what I tend to use the most. There is a lot of reading online if you google search. Good luck!