High Protein, Plant-Based Wagyu Beef Helps Increase Immunity — ASEAN’s Best Food Innovation by Chula Students

The Chula Science students team recently won the “ASEAN Food Innovation Challenge 2021” with the imitation Wagyu beef — “The Marble Booster” made from 100 percent high-protein plants. Low in cholesterol, and seasoned with immunity-boosting herbs, this product is soon to be produced and sold in collaboration with Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF).

When we talk about Wagyu beef, a picture of the signature pink marbled meat and the soft, delicate, mouth-watering flavours of dishes like steak, BBQ, and shabu-shabu come to mind.  In the near future, health aware consumers, elderly people, or people with health problems who need to reduce their meat consumption will not feel restricted or left out anymore when the marbled Wagyu beef hits the plant-based food market as a substitute for steak.

Nutti Hutasingh, the team leader of Food Tech Chula
Nutti Hutasingh, the team leader of Food Tech Chula
Food Tech Chula Team
Food Tech Chula Team

The Marble Booster Wagyu beef is a 100 percent plant-based imitation meat by Food Tech, a team of Chula students  that includes two Ph.D. candidates, Nuti Hutasingh and Waranya Techasuk, and a master’s degree student, Nutchanon Sangsomjit, all from the Department of Food Technology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University.  The team recently won first prize at the “ASEAN Food Innovation Challenge 2021” organized by Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company Limited (CPF), under the concept of immune-boosting and eco-friendly ready-to-eat food.  There were a total of 120 submissions from 54 ASEAN universities.

The Marble Booster is a 100% plant-based steak.  State-of-the-art technology is applied to create from soy protein a texture similar to the filamentous structure of animal muscle , and the marbled fat from canola oil,” explained Nutti Hutasingh, the team leader of Food Tech Chula.“We also added turmeric extract and black pepper, resulting in a marbled texture of Wagyu beef and making Marble Booster a meat replacement that tastes as good as it looks.  Curcumin from turmeric and Piperine from black pepper help strengthen the immune system.”

MOCKUP of The Marble Booster
MOCKUP of The Marble Booster, Plant-Based Imitation Wagyu Beef

Highlights of Plant-Based Imitation Meat

Nuti explained that the concept of high-protein plant-based food seasoned with herbs, as created by the Food Tech Chula team, is new in the food industry.  Not like just  any other fake beef, the key distinctive features of the plant-based Wagyu beef the team created include:

Marble Booster’s plant based Imitation meat has a filamentous structure that is like real meat.  Generally, plant-based protein is made similar to ground meat, but the Marble Booster by the Food Tech Chula team has been developed, with the help of advanced technology, to resemble pieces of meat with filaments and muscles, which is unprecedented.

The Marbled Booster from Food Tech Chula is made to include patterned-lines of fat, or “marble”,  by using canola oil which is low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol.  The product has the texture of marbled pork, the collar cut.

It has high nutritional value plus immune-boosting herbs.  All raw materials are plant-based:  soy protein, which has high protein; canola oil, which is low in saturated fat.  The imitation meat is seasoned with turmeric and black pepper, together enhancing the immune system and can be absorbed up to 2,000 percent into the body.

The Marble Booster has a realistic meat texture.  When cooked, it maintains the shape, flexibility, and juiciness similar to that of real meat, and it is easy to cook.  Still being modified are the aroma and taste, which the Food Tech Chula team assures will be done in less than a year.

Soon, consumers will have the opportunity to taste this ready-to-eat, plant-based imitation meat, which will be sold at convenience stores.  Nuti is confident that the plant-based imitation meat will be popular with both vegetarian and flexitarian consumers, as well as meat-eaters who wish to try new healthy food or are looking for a substitute for steak.

“The plant-based Wagyu beef is very different from the imitation meat  that is already available, especially during the annual Vegetarian Festival.  The imitation meat out there in the market is made with textured vegetable protein, which is not a good meat substitute, as the body is less likely to absorb it, compared to soy protein,” Nuti stressed.  

To conclude, he added that, “We would like to add variety to our innovation, especially with regards to appearances, like using olive oil instead of canola oil, adding other herbs to help boost the immune system, or reducing the sugar content, while maintaining as many health benefits for our consumers as possible.”

Chula is the place to discover one’s true individuality and the years I spent here were most enjoyable.

Rossukhon Kongket Alumni, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University

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