University of Missouri scientists have developed a soy substitute for chicken which is much like the real thing and also has health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and maintaining healthy bones.
To create the soy chicken, lead researcher Fu-Hung Hsieh, an MU professor of biological engineering and food science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering, extracts soy protein extracted from soy flour.
The soy then goes through an extrusion cooking process that uses water, heat and pressure while pushing the mixture through a cylinder with two augers.
"Early tests provided some of the fibrous texture to the final product, but it tasted more like turkey," Hsieh said.
"In order to produce a more realistic product, we had to tweak the process and add extra fibre to give the soy a stringy feeling that tears into irregular, coarse fibers similar to chicken.
"This particular soy substitute is different because we are working with a higher moisture content, which is up to 75 percent.
"The high moisture content is what gives the soy a very similar texture to chicken - in addition to the appearance," Hsieh added.
The soy chicken provides health benefits for consumers. Soy foods contain important nutrition components, some of which help maintain healthy bones and prevent prostate, breast and colorectal cancers.
Soy foods also are a good source of essential fatty acids and contain no cholesterol.
The findings are published in the Journal of Food and Agricultural Chemistry, Journal of Food Science, and Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society.