It's a long-standing problem in the culinary world. How can you make a meat dish vegetarian and make it taste just as good?
Now an American company is looking to revolutionise the fake-meat industry by creating a vegetarian burger that looks, feels, tastes and sizzles on a grill like a real burger.
The uncooked burger looks like a raw, bloody beef patty but is made is made entirely of amino acids, fats and nutrients culled from plants.
Each ingredient was carefully chosen for its texture, colour and flavour that resembles meat. The blood of cows, which is the key to unlocking beef's flavour, is recreated through the addition of heme, an important molecule in the hemoglobin that is also found in certain plants.
The man behind the creation is Stanford University professor Patrick Brown whose company, Impossible Foods, is trying to shrink the animal farming industry by using plants to make meats and cheeses.
The Wall Street Journal reporter Evelyn M. Rusli, had a first look at the burger in Redwood City, California. She wrote, "Although it’s a far darker shade of reddish-brown than the typical grocery store patty, it is moist and seems to be similar in density as I press down on it. When it is lifted off the plate, a residue of what looks like “blood” is left, yet another sign that this isn’t your typical veggie burger."
When cooking on an electric grill, it sizzled and smelt just like meat cooking. "When the technician slices the burger down the middle, it is distinctly pink at the very center," added Rusli.
Once she took a bite into the burger, in a bun with lettuce, tomato and plant-based cheese, she said it was slightly lighter, fluffier and tasted less bloody than a typical burger. "But the bites still have the consistency of animal tissue," she wrote. "It isn’t overly spongy like tofu. Instead, the meat granules cling together, as one would expect in a burger".
It is healthier than a regular meat pattie, with zero cholesterol. The WSJ's video producer Emily Prapuolenis, who also attended tasting, observed hours later that the vegetarian burger didn’t leave her feeling as lethargic.
The burger is still in development, but Brown believes it’s close to consumer ready.