Introducting... Grilled Ribeye Beef!
We went through a ton of different samples and a lot of different types of dehydrated beef, most of which tasted more like cheap coffee than the beefy notes we’re so familiar with. Maybe the hemoglobin and other compounds become bitter through the spray drying or dehydration processes - there was a distinct correlation between the color of the dehydrated beef and the amount of bitterness present, kinda like coffee. Darker the roast/color, the more bitter it was.
Another side effect of this dehydration process is that it concentrates off-flavors that we normally don’t taste so heavily. For example, there was also a coppery, metallic flavor in some of the beef samples we had.
The kind of flavor we wanted to design for originally was based on the kind of beef ramen everyone knows and loves, but also....doesn’t taste a whole lot like actual beef. The dehydrated beef powders we were working with had very few flavor similarities to this. Beefy, yes, but of a completely different kind than we were tasting from the familiar beef flavors.
Beefy notes, almost like...
Wait, hang on. What if we just ditched trying to make it taste like the old and busted beef flavor and instead went with the new hotness of steak? Specifically, what if we took some of the less bitter tasting beef, and blended them along with beef fat to achieve something more similar to the taste of a grilled steak?
Aha. Now we were onto something.
Grilled steak has pleasant bitter notes from the char lines from where the steak makes contact with the meat, and along with a smokiness that comes along with it.
With that in mind, we began to work again. We ended up making an interesting blend-- A lot of the complexities of beef were lost in the dehydration process, but we came up with some unique solutions to this. One of the factors we were missing was a complexity in the umami, and mushroom not only delivered a different kind of umami in the flavor, but also is paired often with steak dishes anyway, as they have a synergistic effect on each other. Chicken fat was also included into our blend, as it mellowed out some of the harshness of the beef, and delivered a rich, full flavor sensation commonly known as “Kokumi.” (btw, thanks so much for reading! Use code “kokumi” to get 10% off the new beef flavor!)
The resulting blend was good, but a little straightforward in its flavor profile. Since the Sichuan Chili Edition, we’d learned from our previous mistakes, notably that trying to be “too traditional” with our flavor base led to too much simplification on the flavor profiles in an attempt to be as similar as possible to restaurant ramen, which used few ingredients but great technique to coax some truly wonderful flavors out of the broth.
Being that we worked with dry powders, we couldn’t apply those techniques, and could only rely on the raw ingredients we had on hand. With Sichuan Chili Edition, we really changed up our design philosophy. Rather than attempting to follow the traditional recipes as a be all and end all, we learned that because we couldn’t apply the techniques to these powders that you’d otherwise be able to apply in the kitchen, a lot of the flavor complexities and volatile flavor compounds just couldn’t exist. The flavor philosophy on how to build the flavors from the ground up had to change.
With that in mind, we put some unconventional items into the beef flavor. Some items like roasted cabbage and mirepoix added some vegetable complexity and sweetness, while others, like a touch of chipotle, added heat to give a nice, tingling finish to the broth.
The end result is something we’re very happy with: Steak-y, rich and buttery flavor, jam packed with all the umami and kokumi goodness you’d expect from steak. There’s a hint of gamey, beefy bitterness along the back note that heightens and finishes with a tingle of spice and a hit of richness that keeps you coming back for more!
It was certainly a really fun thing to develop, and we hope everyone enjoys it! I’m honestly at a bit of a loss on how to conclude this, being that the entire blog entry was a bit of a ramble on the flurry of memories of developing this, so I’ll just kind of leave it here. As always, leave your comments below and let us know what you think!