Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Join Two Portions of Meat Using Transglutaminase (Meat Glue)


Transglutaminase, an enzyme that catalyzes an acyl transfer reaction (Gln ε Lys) to form ε-(γ-Glu)-Lys isopeptide bonds within and between proteins (formation of a covalent bond between a free amine group), is used to promote protein functionality and bind meat particles in restructured products. The enzyme also catalyzes the hydrolysis of the γ-carboxyamide group in glutaminyl residues, resulting in deamidation. In muscle foods, where protein lysine residues (acyl acceptors) are abundant, the Gln-Lys cross-linking reaction prevails.

Transglutaminases are a family of enzymes that bond with proteins. The reaction also produces a molecule of ammonia. Such an enzyme is classified as EC Bonds formed by transglutaminase exhibit high resistance to proteolytic degradation (proteolysis). While the enzyme can be extracted from a variety of natural sources, MTGase produced from Streptomyces mobaraensis (Streptoverticillium mobaraense) has attracted the most attention.

Transglutaminases were first described in 1959. The exact biochemical activity of transglutaminases was discovered in blood coagulation protein factor XIII in 1968. Microbial transglutaminase (MTGase) was introduced initially by Ajinomoto Co. to meat processing to facilitate the production of muscle protein gels and the “bind” in restructured raw meat, including fish fillets and nuggets. MTGase suits processed meats well as it main­tains high activity over a broad pH, temperature, and salt concentration range.

In commercial food processing, transglutaminase is used to bond proteins together. Examples of foods made using transglutaminase include imitation crabmeat, and fish balls. It is produced by Streptomyces mobaraensis (Streptoverticillium mobaraense) fermentation in commercial quantities or extracted from animal blood, and is used in a variety of processes.

Transglutaminase can be used as a binding agent to improve the texture of protein-rich foods such as surimi or ham. Chefs use this “meat glue” to bind two or more pieces of meat such as sliced bacon wrapped around a filet steak. Unlike gelatin, which also acts as glue, transglutaminase doesn’t melt when heated. The instructions below shows how to “glue” two trimmed top blade muscles, then cut them crosswise to make tender, juicy, and relatively inexpensive double top blade steaks.

Read the package label before using. Each transglutaminase is formulated for specific uses. Some are meant for fish, some for meat, some for cooked products, some for raw. Some types are sprinkled on the meat to be joined, others are mixed with water and brushed on. Here, we sprinkle the meat with transglutaminase to join two top blade muscles. Purchase transglutaminase from butcher supply companies and online retailers like Amazon.com, here is the link... Transglutaminase or Meat Glue.

Place two trimmed top blade muscles on a large piece of plastic wrap with their undersides facing up and the thickest portions facing in opposite directions.


1) Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 g) of transglutaminase powder evenly over the meat, making sure to sprinkle on the edges.

2) Cover one muscle with the other.

3) Press firmly together to join the two, shaking off and discarding any excess powder.

4) Roll up tightly in the plastic wrap to help join the two muscles together.

5) Wrapped top blade steaks ready to refrigerate. Refrigerate several hours to allow the bond to form.

6) Unwrap the steak and trim off small slices from both ends to square them off. Cut crosswise into steaks 3/4 to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm) thick.

7) Double top blade steaks ready to cook.

Watch Video: Reconstructed Chicken Thigh Using Activa GS (Transglutaminase)

Uses of Transglutaminase in Molecular Gastronomy or Modernist Cuisine

Transglutaminase is also used in molecular gastronomy to meld new textures with existing tastes. Besides these mainstream uses, transglutaminase has been used to create some unusual foods. British chef Heston Blumenthal is credited with the introduction of transglutaminase into modern cooking.

Wylie Dufresne, chef of New York's avant-garde restaurant wd~50, was introduced to transglutaminase by Blumenthal, and invented a "pasta" made from over 95% shrimp thanks to transglutaminase.

Video Lecture: Proteins and Enzymes: Transglutaminase, Watch Wylie Dufresne of wd~50

Have you tried cooking a French recipe? Have you been to a French restaurant? Then you already know this... 101 Common French Food Terms Pronunciation You Must Know

Watch Video: Transglutaminase or Meat Glue is the Meat Industry Dirty Little Secret

The Meat Glue makes pieces of beef, lamb, chicken or fish that would normally be thrown out stick together so closely that it looks like a solid piece of meat then sold to you for a higher price. Buyers Beware!


Ahhmed AM, Kuroda R, Kawahara S, Ohta K, Nakadea K, Aokib K, Muguruma M. 2009. Dependence of micro­bial transglutaminase on meat type in myofibrillar proteins cross-linking. Food Chem. 112:354–61.

Castro-Briones M, Calderón GN, Velázquez G, Rubio MS, Vázquez M, Ramírez JA. 2009. Mechanical and functional properties of beef products obtained using microbial transglutaminase with treatments of pre-heating followed by cold binding. Meat Sci 83:229–38.

Cho, YH, HK Shim, and J Park. 2003. Encapsulation of fish oil by an enzymatic gelation process using transglutaminase cross-linked proteins. JFood Sci 68 (9).

Griffin M, Casadio R, Bergamini CM. 2002. Transglutaminases: nature's biological glues. Biochem J 368 (Pt 2): doi:10.1042/BJ20021234. PMC 1223021. PMID 12366374.

Kawahara S, Ahmed AM, Ohta K, Nakade K, Muguruma M. 2007. Inconsistency in the improvements of gel strength in chicken and pork sausage induced by transglutaminase. Asian–Aust J Anim Sci. 20:1285–91.

Kelleher, James B. (May 11, 2012). Industry defends ingredient critics deride as "meat glue". Chicago Tribune.

Kuraishi C, Yamazaki K, Susa Y. 2001. Transglutaminase: Its utilization in the food industry. Food Rev Int. 17:221–46.


  1. Can I use a meat glue on a piece of meat after it has been brined or marinated

    1. It is better to glue it first, then you can marinate or brine the meat.


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