Juicy Marbles Introduces Plant-Based Filet Mignon
Hailing from Slovenia, start-up company Juicy Marbles have developed a vegan alternative to one of the culinary world’s most prized cuts, the filet mignon.
A good piece of steak, properly cooked with a nice brown crust on the outside while remaining lusciously juicy, pink, and tender on the inside, is one of the greatest joys one can experience. However, our current methods of meat production bring with them a slew of problems. Apart from the ethical considerations of raising animals to be slaughtered, it has additional problems relating to the environment, human health, and its failure to efficiently feed people, according to Juicy Marbles’ co-founder Maj Hrovat. In this regard, plant-based meats offer a more sustainable alternative, able to be produced more efficiently in larger quantities, and using new technologies, with the same great taste of the real thing.
The first breakthrough into vegan meats that tasted like the real thing was the introduction of the Impossible Burger by Impossible Foods. Beyond Meat soon followed with their line of plant-based meatballs, sausages, and burger patties. The common theme here is that almost all of these brands were offering only alternatives to processed meat products rather than an actual piece of meat. Juicy Marbles capitalised on this gap in the plant-based market and decided to develop an actual steak, made from plants.
The main reason that brands opt to develop plant-based processed meats is that these meat products don’t have much of a texture to begin with. Replicating the texture of meat fibres in a steak extremely difficult. Add to that the highly-desired flavour and mouthfeel of marbling and it almost seems easier to get yourself a steak from the butcher and be done with it. In Israel, the first lab-grown piece of meat was grown using a scaffold in a special medium. Redefine Meat used 3D printing technology to replicate the texture of muscle fibres in their lab-grown meat. However, another one of Juicy Marbles’ co-founders Luka Sincek, a microbiologist by trade, explained that these methods of production were too complicated and slow. They thus developed their own patent-pending technology, the Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder 9000. This allowed the team at Juicy Marbles to control the alignment and layering of soy-based fibres which make up each steak, thereby recreating the satisfying mouthfeel one would get from a delectable filet mignon.
Another factor the co-founders of Juicy Marbles wanted to include in their plant-based steak was the intramuscular fat, known more simply by dedicated foodies as marbling. “The most expensive steaks in the world are known for their lush marbling. It takes a lot of energy and a rare breed of cow to attain that.” Sincek explains. To recreate the marbling found in prized cuts of meat, unsaturated sunflower oil is used. Apart from mimicking the look of marbling, the sunflower oil adds an element of richness to the vegan meat and contributes to its juiciness.
Other ingredients are added to the mix to reproduce a steak that looks and tastes authentic. As mentioned, the “meat” fibres are actually soy-based. Beetroot powder gives the steak its red colouration, and other natural flavourings help build and layer the taste we associate with red meat.
The result is a plant-based filet mignon that reportedly looks and tastes like the real thing. Juicy Marbles recommends preparing in the same fashion you would a piece of meat. “The allure of meat is not just texture or flavour, it’s also [the] simplicity of preparation. A sprinkle of salt, sizzle on the pan, and boom – you have a tasty protein on your plate,” said Vladimir Mickovic, Juicy Marbles’ Chief Brand Officer.
While theoretically sustainable, in practice, the costs of producing a plant-based filet mignon are still a little on the costlier side. A 600 gram portion which feeds up to four people will set you back US$147.91, costing around the same price as premium piece of meat. However, Sincek is hopeful that they will be able to bring costs down in future. “With plant meat, we control it and, thus, over time, can scale up our steak production and bring down the price. Eventually, we’ll be able to make the most premium meats attainable for everyone,” he explains.
The latest offerings in plant-based steaks are now up for sale on Juicy Marbles’ website, with free shipping on orders above US$83.54.