If you flip through Momofuku, you see that you need a lot of ingredients you may never have heard of: shiro shoyu, usukuchi, and Tokyo turnips are a just a small sampling. I’ve been pretty determined to find as much as I can and so far I’ve been pretty lucky. The one ingredient that got me really worried was the meat glue.
I looked everywhere for it. I tried to have a specialty store order some in for me, but it was a no-go. I even considered buying the 1 kg bag on sale at Amazon. Then one day, my buzzer rang. The UPS man handed me a thin bubble wrapped envelope and left before I could even ask where it was from. Mail always makes me excited and surprise packages are even more exciting.
I wasn’t expecting anything, so when I ripped into it and found a silver foiled pouch labeled Activa, I did some very appropriate jumping and squealing. At that point I wasn’t sure who answered my meat glue prayers, but after I was done squealing, Mike turned to me to say, “Oh, the sample came?”
Apparently he had emailed Ajinomoto to see if we could get a sample. There was a bit of back and forth – they usually only give samples to restaurants and specialty food stores, but eventually the agreed to send us some. Meat glue isn’t very common, except in chicken nuggets, so I was thrilled that Mike managed to get some sent our way.
Meat glue is a powdery enzyme that has the ability to link proteins, which means, you can wrap a scallop in bacon without any messy toothpicks or you can create monstrous multi-meat roasts.
I wanted to start small so I decided to glue bacon to bacon. There’s a cute little breakfast diner chain here in Vancouver called De Dutch Pannekoek House that serves round bacon that they call “de bakon.” With a name like de bakon, even non-bacon lovers can’t help but order it. Case in point: one of my friends who doesn’t like bacon ordered de bakon based on it’s name alone the last time we were at De Dutch. Unfortunately, he didn’t actually like it, but I still believe in the awesomeness of de bakon.
I’m not completely sure, but de bakon is probably Canadian back bacon cut into rounds. For my version of de bakon, I used regular maple glazed bacon. Meat glue is easy to use: sprinkle a bit of it on, leave it in the fridge overnight and the next day you should have solid pieces of whatever meats you glued together. For the bacon, I just rolled it in on itself. Chang tells you to rub the meat glue in with your fingers for the brick chicken, but I used gloves mostly because there’s a no hands warning symbol on the package. Plus I was worried I’d glue me to myself.
The de bakon came out awesome. I was worried it wouldn’t hold together but after unwrapping it was clear that the bacon was solidly stuck to the other bacon. After a brief freeze to make it easier to slice, I sliced it and put it in the pan.
There was a lot of curling, which happens when you cook regular bacon as well, so I used a pot to weigh everything down. The bacon was amazing: crispy, smoky, and novelty-filled. I used some in some round BLT sliders, which seemed to taste better than ever.
Also, a shout out to Thomas, Large & Singer Inc. who sent me the sample. Their customer service was phenomenal and if I were a large industrial food operation, I’d buy all my meat glue from them!