12 February, 2017
Restaurant discovers secret to great veggie burger: Fake blood
Manhattan restaurants Public and Saxon + Parole are generating considerable buzz this week—including a front page feature on NPR.org—over a dish they’re serving known as The Impossible Burger.
It is, in fact, a veggie burger. But unlike the grainy hockey pucks that have plagued the culinary landscape, this one, according to the NPR reporter who sampled it, looks, feels, sizzles in the pan, and tastes remarkably like beef.
The secret was discovered in the laboratory by Impossible Foods founder and former Stanford professor Pat Brown. What made beef taste like beef, Brown realized, was the blood from raw beef, specifically, a compound called heme (as in hemoglobin). So to recreate it in a non-animal based form, Brown harvested yeast—like brewing beer—to grow lots of heme; fake blood, essentially. It’s then added into wheat, potato, and soy protein, the fat coming from coconut oil, to recreate the texture and taste of a beef patty.
Brown’s startup currently sells its veggie burger patties to six restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and later this year, a regional burger chain based on the East Coast.
The Impossible Burger at Saxon + Parole sells for $17. It tastes, according to the reporter, “undeniably delicious and, I can vouch, it’s juicy like a real burger.”