Impossible Foods‘ plant-based Impossible Burger comes to Singapore with an improved recipe and a debut at eight restaurants.
Imagine chowing down on a thick, juicy burger. It has the flavour and aroma you expect from a beef burger. But halfway through, you discover that the patty’s not made from meat at all.
You might be in a state of disbelief at this point, but that’s perfectly understandable. Even Chef Adam Penney of burger place Three Buns, says it “messes with his head” to know the patty he’s using is not meat.
What it is, is a plant-based product from Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley based company. Founded by Dr Patrick Brown, M.D., Ph.D., and backed by investors such as Bill Gates and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, the company aims to reduce carbon emissions from animal agriculture and make the global food system more sustainable.
The key ingredient they’re banking on to do that, is heme (pronounced heam as you would in haemoglobin). Heme is a molecule containing iron, naturally present in animal and plant, that is believed to be responsible for the meaty flavours in beef. It was the precise edge Impossible’s scientists were looking for when they were thinking about creating a product that could reach out to meat lovers. To make Impossible Burger, they get their heme from genetically engineering and fermenting yeast to produce soy leghemoglobin, a protein found in soy roots.
In response to any concerns about the part that genetic engineering plays in ingredient-making, Nick Halla, senior vice president, International, says, “In order to scale the production of heme sustainably, the only way to produce it is with yeast fermentation. This is a similar process done to produce insulin, or rennet for cheese-making. It’s an extremely proven and safe process.”
With their recent recipe revamp, Impossible believes they have an even better product on their hands. They say the new recipe swaps wheat protein with soy protein which provides higher protein quality, a beefier texture, and more dietary fibre; adds methylcellulose, a plant-based culinary binder which make the product juicer and easier to handle; and adds sunflower oil, which reduces the amount of total and saturated fat.
Impossible Burger 2.0 is gluten-, animal hormone- and antibiotics-free; kosher- and halal-certified; and aims to be a healthier product. As a gauge, a quarter-pound Impossible Burger has 0mg cholesterol, 14g of total fat and 240 calories, compared to 80mg, 23g and 290 calories in the conventional patty.
Proof is in the Pudding
Talk is one thing, but as always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Impossible Burger’s debut today at eight restaurants—Park Bench Deli, Potato Head, Three Buns, Privé Orchard, Empress, Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, CUT by Wolfgang Puck, and Adrift by David Myers—will be a good way to test the waters.
Chefs like Penney are already quite won over. He has previously used Beyond Meat, another plant-based product, and finds that Impossible goes further in terms of achieving flavours and aromas akin to meat. Besides, cooking Impossible Burger is very similar to cooking meat. He says, ” In fact it’s a little easier. When you press it on the grill, it holds together better, whereas with a beef patty, if the consistency is slightly off, sometimes it gets a bit crumbly. The Impossible Burger is very consistent. It cooks and caramelises more quickly, but it caramelises better almost than some of the beef.”
At Impossible Foods’ preview at Potato Head yesterday, we had a taste of chef Penney’s Impossible burgers, The Impossible Chedda with double ketchup, cheese, onion puree and pickle, and The Impossible Dream, with XO mayo, heritage tomato & onion marmalade. We found the ‘meat’ patty a tad softer and less compact than usual, but otherwise every bit as moist, juicy and flavourful as a regular patty. Chef Penney even says the softer texture was what he was going for, ” I wanted something such that when you get to the patty, there’s a little crunch, then it just melts in your mouth and the flavours linger.”
Well you can be the judge starting today when the restaurants put the Impossible Burger items on their menu proper (list below). Love it or hate it, the future of food is getting closer to the present, and it’s all a rather exciting prospect.
Here are just some of the dishes you can expect at the various venues:
– Impossible Sausage Roll ($14), a plant-based sausage wrapped in French puff pastry and baked to golden brown.
– The Impossible Flatbread ($24) topped with caramelised onions, walnuts and rocket pesto.
– The Impossible Wellington ($39), a version of Bread Street Kitchen’s signature Beef Wellington, served with a side of mash potatoes and carrots glazed with red wine jus.
– The Impossible Slider ($18 for three), a reinvention of CUT’s signature mini Kobe sliders
– Sichuan Mapo Tofu with Impossible Meat ($18)
– Dragon’s Breath Fried Kuay Teow with Impossible Meat Balls ($18)
– Impossible Patty Melt ($22)
– Juicy Lucy Impossible Meatball Spaghetti ($19)
– Impossible Satay Sliders ($15)
– The Impossible Dream ($27)
– The Impossible Chedda ($23)