MailOnline has tried the world’s first plant-based filet mignon steak – and it’s shockingly close to the real thing.
Created by a Slovenian firm called Juicy Marbles, the fake filet mignon contains fat made from sunflower oil and soy protein that mimics real flesh.
Rather than using 3D printing or scaffolding, Juicy Marbles uses a patent-pending machine to align layers of protein ‘fibre’ from the bottom up.
This results in a texture that imitates the fibres found in beef tissue, resulting in juicy chunks that ‘softly tear away’.
However, the product fetches a handsome price that’s worthy of a real filet mignon; unless you buy in bulk, each 113g Juicy Marbles steak costs nearly £10 each.
Juicy Marbles says on its website: ‘The experience is exquisite. The texture is firm, yet velvety’
Juicy Marbles uses a machine called the ‘Meat-o-Matic 9000’, which layers proteins into linear fibers, mimicking muscle structures
JUICY MARBLES FILET MIGNON STEAK
- Soy protein
- Wheat protein
- Sunflower oil
- Beetroot powder
- Yeast extract
- Vitamin B12
- Thickeners and emulsifiers
Nutrition (per 113g steak):
- Energy: 193 kcal
- Fat: 7.1g
- Carbohydrate: 2g
- Protein: 26g
Juicy Marbles says on its website: ‘The experience is exquisite. The texture is firm, yet velvety. As juicy chunks softly tear away, one may begin to question reality. One may describe it as succulent, luscious, or outrageous even.’
Filet mignon is a cut of meat taken from the smaller end of a cow’s tenderloin – the long, narrow, lean muscle located within the loin.
Filet mignon is a prized cut because that particular bit of muscle does not bear any weight, so it’s naturally soft and tender.
To replicate the filet mignon’s luxurious consistency, Juicy Marbles doesn’t use 3D printing, nor does it grow it in a lab, unlike other current methods.
Instead, it uses a mysterious machine called the ‘Meat-o-Matic 9000’, which layers proteins into linear fibers, mimicking muscle structures.
Primary ingredients of the fibres are water, soy protein, wheat protein, salt and beetroot powder, which does a decent job of replicating the deep pink colour of cow flesh.
Juicy Marbles has also used sunflower oil to replicate a filet mignon steak’s marbling – the webbing of creamy white fat that makes beef so juicy.
Juicy Marbles’ product also has a similar calorie count to real filet mignon – 100g is around 170 kcal for each.
The first thing that struck me after taking the plant-based filet mignon steak out of the packet was the texture – it’s flabby and a bit wet, just like beef.
Again, just like the real thing, it’s best sprinkling the Juicy Marbles filet mignon with salt prior to cooking.
Filet mignon is a cut of meat taken from the smaller end of a cow’s tenderloin – the long, narrow, lean muscle located within the loin
A four pack of the plant-based filet mignon steaks comes shrink-wrapped, and could easily be mistaken for beef based on appearance alone
EATING MEAT AND DAIRY HURTS THE PLANET, SAY SCIENTISTS
Eating meat and dairy at the current rate of consumption is speeding up global warming, scientists say.
Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.
Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further fuelling global warming. More trees are cut down to convert land for crop growing, as around a third of all grain produced in the world is used to feed animals raised for human consumption.
As well as this, the nitrogen-based fertiliser used on crops adds to nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is around 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
I pan-fried four steaks in hot oil that was smoking slightly, so that the exterior quickly gained a nice brown crust.
Cooking the plant-based steaks only took a few minutes on each side. I served them with a very basic accompaniment – chips, peas and a tomato relish – which probably didn’t do any justice to the product.
In fact, my chips were slightly undercooked because I was so desperate to eat my meal and test out the steaks.
Easily the best thing about the Juicy Marbles steak was the texture – the way the individual fibres easily fell apart was extraordinarily similar to beef fibres.
The lines of sunflower oil fat are also arranged so that the interior stays moist and gives the steak a rich and succulent mouthfeel.
Flavour-wise, there’s a very subtle tell-tale hint of soy in the flesh, as you would expect, but the crispy seared crust on the outside is very deep and meaty.
At the dinner table, I really don’t think many would be able to tell this ‘steak’ is animal free – especially if you covered it in a hearty red wine jus or a peppercorn sauce.
Unfortunately, the plant-based filet mignon don’t come cheap – a pack of four 113g steaks including shipping costs €45, or £38.50.
Buyers do have the choice to save money if they buy in bulk – four four-packs (so 16 steaks in total) cost €96 (£82) including shipping.
That works out at just over £5 per steak, which is about the price you’d pay for a half-decent beef steak in the supermarket.
I served the Juicy Marbles steaks with a simple accompaniment – chips, peas and a tomato relish
Easily the best thing about the Juicy Marbles steak was the texture – the fake flesh just falls apart
Is it worth it? I’d say just about. If you’re hosting a dinner party, vegan or vegetarian friends will be seriously thrilled to try this product, especially if they used to eat meat and still have the occasional cravings.
Alternatively, feed them to all your carnivorous friends, listen to them to rave about how it’s the best bit of meat they’ve ever tasted, and then give them a shock by telling them it’s vegan.
I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I do believe in a future where animal flesh has been replaced with ethical, eco-friendly plant-based and lab-grown options.
Juicy Marbles is clearly pushing boundaries with its product, which could be key to getting meat addicts to cut down on their intake.
PLANT-BASED STEAKS FROM PEA PROTEIN HAVE THE SAME DISTINCTIVE FAT MARBLING AS THE REAL DEAL
Scientists have developed plant-based steaks from pea protein that accurately imitate the marbling of real steaks, they claim.
Developed in Switzerland, the fake steak uses pea protein for the red ‘flesh’ and an oil-in-water emulsion for the spindly lines of white fat.
Since the emulsion’s fat content can be reduced significantly, the plant-based steak is healthier than the animal-based original, as well as more ethical.
For his plant-based steak, Martin Hofmann, a material scientist at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, combines pea protein with carrot, pea and wheat fibres, as well as oil, water, flavours and spices.
Both the pea protein mixture and the fake animal fat (oil, water and additives such as vitamins) are then forced into their own specially designed tubes.
Unlike conventional 3D printing techniques, the tubes continuously force the protein dough and the fat out like playdough and into an attachment consisting of two flat pieces of glass.
Hofmann’s specially-created software controls the merging process.