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Chef has discovered an enzyme...

Modernist

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113 replies to this topic

#1 Teppy

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 03:06 PM

In October I ate at WD-50 in New York. It was a fantastic meal, but one of the most perplexing things was a "pasta" dish. The waiter announced the dish as follows: "The chef has discovered an enzyme that binds protein to protein. These noodles are made of from over 99% shrimp."

The noodles had a consistency almost identical to normal pasta, and had a delicious, mild flavor. The ultimate in low-carb pasta, I suppose. I've searched the web, but have found nothing about this mystery enzyme. Does anyone have a clue what it might be?

#2 culinary bear

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 03:48 PM

In October I ate at WD-50 in New York. It was a fantastic meal, but one of the most perplexing things was a "pasta" dish. The waiter announced the dish as follows: "The chef has discovered an enzyme that binds protein to protein. These noodles are made of from over 99% shrimp."

The noodles had a consistency almost identical to normal pasta, and had a delicious, mild flavor. The ultimate in low-carb pasta, I suppose. I've searched the web, but have found nothing about this mystery enzyme. Does anyone have a clue what it might be?

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Let me don my scientist's hat and shoot this one down first.

Many enzymes bind proteins to each other. If they didn't exist, you'd be a pool of liquid in front of your keyboard.

You could indeed make something resembling pasta from proteinaceous material, but to my mind you'd need far more than 1% 'other' content to make it behave in a pliable fashion.

In any case, it wouldn't be a case of adding a mystery powder to meat / seafood / your grandmother in order to make it magically turn into noodles.

"The chef has discovered an enzyme, etc etc" sounds to me like spurious grossly inflated egocentric hyperbole. And then some.
Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#3 fiftydollars

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 03:58 PM

["The chef has discovered an enzyme, etc etc" sounds to me like spurious grossly inflated egocentric hyperbole.  And then some.

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I totally agree, but this is Wylie Dufresne we're talking about so I'd still probably like to try these noodles.

#4 jsolomon

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 04:05 PM

Sounds like egg-white to me.
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#5 culinary bear

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 04:07 PM

Sounds like egg-white to me.

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Bloody hell; I'd never heard of that before today. :)
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#6 WHT

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 05:18 PM

Sounds like egg-white to me.

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Just thinking the same thing.
Living hard will take its toll...

#7 NulloModo

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 06:40 AM

I would love to hear more about this. If a chef truly has devised a way to make a pasta that has all of the texture and taste of regular pasta, but is made from nearly 100% protein, there would be an absolutely huge market for it. If this is true, I am very surprised I have not heard anything of it before now.
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He don't eat humble pie,
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And hang the bastard high!

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#8 Luckylies

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 07:52 AM

Sounds like egg-white to me.

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Just thinking the same thing.

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mind reading egulleters!
ditto.
does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

#9 Mark Sommelier

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 08:23 AM

I have one thing to say: agar-agar
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#10 culinary bear

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 11:32 AM

I have one thing to say:    agar-agar

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Egg white is functionally protein, with very limited (if any) anabolic enzymatic ability.

Agar, if I remember rightly, is a salt of an anionic polysaccharide, and thus definitely has no enzymatic ability.

I just hate it when a little "science" is used to trick and blindside customers. It goes against everything I stand for, everything.
Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#11 jackal10

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 03:01 PM

More like an alginate or one of the calcium activated polysaccarides - I think some are even made from the chitin in shrimp shells.

#12 akwa

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 10:22 AM

it is actually an enzyme
but more interesting is how eager all the respondents are to label it as something they already know how to use.
It would be difficult if not impossible to create the precise texture and taste with egg whites, agar or alginate/calcium chloride solution.
Either way, hats off to Chef Wylie Dufresne for a novel application of industrial food science in gastronomy.

#13 docsconz

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 10:42 AM

Either way, hats off to Chef Wylie Dufresne for a novel application of industrial food science in gastronomy.

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Here, here! I wish I would have seen that on the menu when I was there recently. It sounds good regardless of the purported hyperbole..
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#14 culinary bear

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 11:23 AM

it is actually an enzyme
but more interesting is how eager all the respondents are to label it as something they already know how to use.
It would be difficult if not impossible to create the precise texture and taste with egg whites, agar or alginate/calcium chloride solution.
Either way, hats off to Chef Wylie Dufresne for a novel application of industrial food science in gastronomy.

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Enzyme (n) - Any of numerous proteins or conjugated proteins produced by living organisms and functioning as specialized catalysts for biochemical reactions.

source : dictionary.com

In the original post, it was described how the waiter :

announced the dish as follows: "The chef has discovered an enzyme that binds protein to protein".


No, he did not 'discover an enzyme'; he may have found a novel application for an existing enzyme (and if that's the case he's to be applauded) but it is falsehood and plagiarism to take credit for the work of another, and this is what in effect what it taking place if the waiter is maintaining, with these words, that Mr Dufresne has discovered the enzyme for himself.

You may think I'm splitting hairs, but in the scientific community such apparently semantic distinctions are real, significant, and established.

but more interesting is how eager all the respondents are to label it as something they already know how to use.


you'll notice I did no such thing... :smile: rather, I took pains to point out that egg white and agar-agar, as people were theorising were the active agents in the 'pasta', were not enzymes at all.

Hats off for the progress of new scientific approaches to cooking and those who practise it. Boo-hiss to all those who use science as a tool to mystify rather than to explain.

Allan Brown
Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry, Edinburgh University)
Fellow of the Royal Medical Society
Fair-to-middling bridge player :smile:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Edited by culinary bear, 25 December 2004 - 12:06 PM.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#15 Tonyy13

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 12:07 PM

No, he did not 'discover an enzyme'; he may have found a novel application for an existing enzyme (and if that's the case he's to be applauded) but it is falsehood and plagiarism to take credit for the work of another, and this is what in effect what it taking place if the waiter is maintaining, with these words, that Mr Dufresne has discovered the enzyme for himself.


C'mon, you know that the waiter didn't mean that the chef discovered an enzyme, give us a break!!! Not trying to stir the pot of Sh... here, but you know, you guys can't take this too seriously!! Granted, it sounds like something that could have been said or delivered better, but give the poor waiter a break, he wasn't trying to steal the Nobel Prize for science or anything!! I wish people would have more fun w/ food and not take it so seriously, it makes them uptight!!

BTW, if it were El Bulli and the waiter had said the same thing about the Chef discovering something, would anyone here question wheter or not he had actually discovered it? Would you be busting his balls too? :shock:
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#16 culinary bear

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 12:22 PM

C'mon, you know that the waiter didn't mean that the chef discovered an enzyme, give us a break!!!


I disagree - the phrase "the chef has discovered an enzyme" is pretty plain and clear.

Not trying to stir the pot of Sh... here, but you know, you guys can't take this too seriously!!  Granted, it sounds like something that could have been said or delivered better, but give the poor waiter a break, he wasn't trying to steal the Nobel Prize for science or anything!!  I wish people would have more fun w/ food and not take it so seriously, it makes them uptight!!


hee hee... I have great fun with food; I always find it ironic that my mum told me not to play with my food as a kid, and now I do it for a living! I know what you mean though.

I know what waiting staff are like, and I know they're primed to use the phrases that they do; in all seriousness (and fun) I do find it hard to accept that the motive behind that particular phrase was to do anything other than try and convince the customer of the chef's ability rather than to educate them about the food; that's something I think is fundamentally wrong.

BTW, if it were El Bulli and the waiter had said the same thing about the Chef discovering something, would anyone here question wheter or not he had actually discovered it?  Would you be busting his balls too?  :shock:


good point, well-presented... :smile: Yes though, I probably would! If you never ask any questions, you don't learn much. Hence eGullet.

Edited by culinary bear, 25 December 2004 - 12:23 PM.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#17 docsconz

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 02:52 PM

The thing to consider about this is we don't really know what the waiter actually said. Perhaps he said it as reported. Perhaps it is a paraphrase. Perhaps he said no such thing. Therefore, with all due respect to the poster, take the statement in the first post on this thread with a grain of salt. The important point in the post is that the product as described sounds very interesting and one I suspect Chef Dufresne is capable of doing.
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#18 culinary bear

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Posted 25 December 2004 - 03:25 PM

The important point in the post is that the product as described sounds very interesting.

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it's a shame I react to seafood, otherwise I'd be interested in trying it...
Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

#19 chromedome

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 11:39 AM

I read an article recently about a new wound dressing being used by US forces in Iraq, which uses a component of shrimp shells to stop bleeding. Turns the blood to "glue" on contact, or something of that sort.

Perhaps this is a culinary application of the same substance?
Fat=flavor

#20 chefdg

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 10:41 PM

99% shrimp would be very complicated to make into a pasta shape that has a nice pasta texture when cooked/served hot. Served cold the agar, or any gelatin would work, but hot is a little trickier. The egg white theory is good but their would be a very small window of which to roll/shape the "pasta" but it could happen. I just think it was a good sales pitch.
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#21 scott123

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 10:06 AM

I read an article recently about a new wound dressing being used by US forces in Iraq, which uses a component of shrimp shells to stop bleeding.  Turns the blood to "glue" on contact, or something of that sort.

Perhaps this is a culinary application of the same substance?

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I can just see the billboard "Wylie's Pasta, now with 10% MORE blood coagulant."

#22 Tonyy13

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 10:42 AM

If you never ask any questions, you don't learn much. Hence eGullet.


Well put...
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#23 646522

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 03:11 PM

It's an enzyme and it starts with a t.

#24 fiftydollars

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 04:21 PM

It's an enzyme and it starts with a t.

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So if high school biology serves me right... it ends with "ase."

That oughta narrow it down abit...

tautomerase?
transferase?

Edited by fiftydollars, 27 December 2004 - 05:58 PM.


#25 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 04:52 PM

I can just see the billboard "Wylie's Pasta, now with 10% MORE blood coagulant."

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:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:



eGads, I love this place! :biggrin:

#26 yimay

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 03:09 PM

the chinese have wonton skins that are made out of meat. really! i'm sure they are bound with some kind of starch. they are tasty!

#27 ducphat30

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 11:41 PM

If I say trans*&(%+)m!nase would I be close??
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#28 jackal10

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 01:51 AM

Chitinase? (although chitin is a polysaccheride, rather than a protein)

#29 jackal10

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 02:50 PM

I am told on good but anonymous authority that the enzyme is called transglutaminase and is produced by a Japanese firm called Ajinomoto, under the trade name Activa http://www.activatg.com/, and many other web articles. It works by binding glutamine residues in proteins together. Its used commercially to improve texture in meat products like hams and chicken rolls, block surimi, and improve texture and reduce syneresis (weeping) in set yogurts. It is derived from microbial fermentation.

Wylie was an early adopter, but not the first chef to use it.

The enzyme has a lot of really interesting potentials. to give increased water retention, and to give creaminess and high-fat mouthfeel to low fat products.

#30 fiftydollars

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 06:11 PM

"...Attach bacon to the surface of meat..."

The site also says that you can use this to "cold bond" meat to other meat.

The idea of welding meat sounds pretty interesting. I am not sure what other applications it might be good for, but it could come in handy when I am preparing a stuffed chicken or veal breast.

I didn't locate any information about how to get my hands on this stuff... Anyone know? ...and how much does this stuff cost (there is an email link on the site, but I haven't gotten a response yet)?

Edited by fiftydollars, 30 December 2004 - 06:14 PM.






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