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Tastes like chicken--but it's soy

February 9, 2010 |  2:49 pm

In yet another version of the often-used phrase "tastes like chicken," scientists from the University of Missouri have come up with a soy substitute for chicken that seems to mimic the real thing.

H8tupdkfLeading the effort is Fu-Hung Hsieh, a professor of biological engineering and food science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering. Many soy-based meat substitutes are basically flavored, colored and/or textured to somewhat resemble steak, sausage or ground beef, but this one is more similar to chicken, with the same stringiness found in the cooked flesh.

That, said Hsieh in a news release, in part came from adding extra fiber to get that particular quality. He's been involved with research on the process that has published in the Journal of Food Science and the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, documenting the extrusion process that incorporates water, heat and pressure to achieve the desired results. "This particular soy substitute is different because we are working with a higher moisture content, which is up to 75%," Hsieh said in the release. "The high moisture content is what gives the soy a very similar texture to chicken--in addition to the appearance."

We have a few questions: If this product ever comes to market (Hsieh is currently refining it and doing taste tests), to whom will it appeal? Carnivores who are looking, for health reasons, for a palatable meat substitute that tastes like the real thing? Would vegetarians be interested in this at all? Will chicken noodle soup ever be the same?

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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