Tacos Al Pastor & Science
October 13, 2009
Lesson on Tacos Al Pastor:
What makes this meat different from all other meats? Well, other than the fact that it is slow cooked on a vertical spit for hours, it also has science on its side. Bromelain, the most important ingredient in Al Pastor marination. Bromelain is an enzyme that is prominent in pineapple and is a natural meat tenderizer. The same ingredient that stings your tongue after eating too much pineapple, is the same ingredient that makes Al Pastor different from other meats.
Bromelain is an enzyme that separates amino acids. Amino acids join by forming peptide bonds, a link that connects one amino acid’s amino group with the carboxyl group of another amino acid. When amino acids join through peptide bonds, they form proteins.
In other words, Bromelain breaks down the muscle tissue of the meat. If you left a pineapple sitting on a cut of steak, it would be mush after a day or so.
Lastly, Al Pastor typically comes with a slice of lime. This is no mistake, and it is not just there for flavor. Limes are a citrus fruit and are highly acidic. Citrus is another natural meat tenderizer. This is a last attempt to make the meat as tender as it can be.
Some say variety is the spice of life, but they are wrong… it is actually enzymes that break down peptide bonds.