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What is the Maillard reaction?

Browned food distinctive flavor is produced by a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars. This reaction is known as Maillard reaction.The Maillard reaction can happen during the heating of the food so one of the most important factors to get it is temperature.
This reaction starts at low temperature, when one molecule of the carbonyl group and one of the amino group react forming new unstable structures that will keep reacting with the surrounding molecules creating new molecules that will give food its typical flavor and aroma such as the “umami” taste.
That being said, if we cook a steak, how to choose the perfect temperature to get the  umami flavor?

The juice that pours out of a steak has a high quantity of umami flavor. If the steak is cooked at a rare temperature, although it is juicer and tender, it won’t be enough to release the glutamate needed to obtain the umami.
In other hand, if the steak is well done because it was cooked at an elevated temperature, too much juice will be released and the steak will lose around the 80% of its umami taste.
Then, if we cook the steak at a medium temperature, the flavor of the meat will improve and it will maintain enough juice to keep it tender, this way we will obtain the umami flavor.

Japanese taste

 Food cultures of human beings have been changing along with the globalization of the world’s societies. Japanese food such as Sushi has become popular around the world for its taste and its low fat considered being good for diet. In general, most Japanese dishes have mild taste because it has unique taste. It could be said that umami, the fifth basic taste, is the center taste of Japanese food. It is not easy or may be difficult for most people to explain umami taste because it is different from those popular four basic tastes, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Most foreigners do not feel much of those four tastes from Japanese food and may feel that it has mild favor as a whole. Umami taste is not so obvious for most foreigners to recognize, on the other hand, Japanese are familiar with this taste and use it as a main taste of Japanese cuisine. One of the major influences on Japanese cuisine is raw materials, especially raw fish. Japan is an archipelago country which all parts have an access to the ocean. As an island nation, Japanese take advantages of the abundant seafood supply. Therefore, fishes and other kinds of seafood are the main ingredients to find. Fish is commonly used in the Japanese traditional cuisine. It is often grilled, but it may also be served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Historically, when technology was not yet developed enough to keep fresh raw materials, Japanese aged raw fishes and seafood in order to supply them from the ocean to household consumers. The aged food process creates “umami” taste in materials which Japanese learn and use it as Japanese taste. Today umami is still used as center taste of many Japanese foods. Japanese taste is original and is strongly influenced by its geography that leads to food supplies and production process. The way of living and eating creates a unique way of how Japanese feel about the taste.

Why red wine with meat, and white wine with fish?

 The average red wine is bitter, astringent, and sour. The taste of meat is composed of umami and saltiness. Meat also tastes a little bit sweet. Let’s compare red wine and meat. The bitterness and sourness of red wine is the same strength as the saltiness and umami of meat! The contrast results in a delicious taste. How about red wine and fish? Fish has saltiness and umami too, but in less amounts than in meat. This means the aftertaste of red wine will overwhelm the taste of fish, which leads to an unbalanced flavor. So red wine goes better with meat than fish. How about white wine? White wine is sour and bitter, but not as much as red wine. Meat tastes too strong to go with white wine. However, white wine goes well with fish, because white wine’s sourness and bitterness works nicely with the saltiness and umami of fish. T hat’s why red wine tastes better with meat, and white wine tastes better with fish. I wasn’t sure what you wanted to say in these two cases: So, it feels better contrast between red wine and meat!

Taste Visualization

 The Taste Visualization of Aissy Laboratory is the taste analysis system that interprets taste into scientific statistic by Taste analysis machine and computer software. Aissy Taste Visualization has four significant points. Taste Analysis Machine The Taste analysis machine can quantify taste by replicating the human gustatory system and determine taste preferences. The machine and software work as human tongue and brain to use chemical sensors to detect taste and analytical software to generate quantitative data. High accuracy taste analysis The machine has the system that can analyze taste with high degree of accuracy with average relative error of predicting overall taste which gives more precise data. The system includes gustatory illusions prediction that takes “gustatory illusions” into consideration. Taste Interaction This system can analyze the direct effect that one taste has on another. System software will generate the effects of adding one taste into another taste in graph and quantitative data. High degree of precise quantitative data The system can detect micro quantitative data which shows the difference of taste. For example, the machine can detect that aged beef has 0.28 more umami than un-aged beef. Research proves that the sales of beef with taste data have sales value three times greater than beef without taste data.

What is Umami?

 The thought about taste could be traced back to ancient Greek; Aristotle separated taste into two main areas, bitter and sweet, and further separated in other details. In the history of the West, the four tastes given were simply bitterness, sourness, sweetness, and saltiness. It was thought that these four tastes covered every taste available. Since 1907, the fifth taste Umami, which has long been used in Eastern cuisine, has been officially discovered by Japanese, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda from Tokyo Imperial University, founder of Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG). The first description about Umami taste comes from his note “There is a taste which is common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, but which is not one of the four well-known tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.” Later on, this flavor has been recognized as the fifth basic taste in addition to the four better known tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Professor Ikeda started his experiment on Kombu Seaweed, which he found the taste was present. He successfully extracted Glutamic Acid from Kombu Seaweed and noted that the Glutamate had a distinctive taste which is different from the four Western well-known basic tastes. He called this new discovered taste “Umami”. Umami has literally meaning as “delicious flavor” and now has been use as international term of the fifth basic taste. Today Umami is considered a fundamental taste in Japanese food. The most obvious example for the use of Umami taste in Japanese food is Katsuobushi, also known as okaka which is the Japanese name for dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna that used to add in many dishes or used as soup based. This ingredient has no other taste but only Umami in it. The clear explanation of Umami taste could be difficult; however, it is something similar to fatty meats like steak, seafood and aged cheese.

5 Basic Tastes

Taste is the sensation of the chemical reaction in your mouth when you eat or drink something. Naturally, this basic instinct is important for human being in term of survival. For example, bitter or sour taste indicates poisonous inedible plants or food. On the other hand, sweetness or saltiness is often a sign of rich nutrients food. Despite the fact that most of what we call taste are actually smell, there are five basic tastes that the tongue is sensitive to; sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory or umami. All other tastes are the combination of these basic tastes. Sweetness Sweetness is produced by the presence of sugars, artificial sweeteners and a few other substances. This taste is regarded as a pleasurable sensation. Most people enjoy sweetness and often say “Sweets make you happy”. The primary function of sugar or sweetness foods is to provide energy. Sourness Sourness is the taste that detects acidity which can be found in foods such as vinegar.This taste is produced by hydrogen ion, basically found in foods that are formed by water and acids. The most common group is fruits, lemon, grape and orange, for example. The spoiled foods create sour taste that our tongue can detect, which help us to avoid danger from eating rotten foods. Saltiness Saltiness is a taste produced primarily by the presence of sodium ions. The more sodium in the food, the more salty taste you can get. The primary function of salty food is to provide minerals that are essential to the functioning of the human body. Bitterness Basically, bitterness is the most sensitive and unpleasant taste which is used as a protective function by human sense of taste to avoid poisonous. However, it is sometimes desirable taste which can be found in beer, coffee and raw chocolate. Umami or Savory Umami is the name for the taste sensation produced by several amino acids and glutamates commonly found in fermented and aged foods. This taste can be described in English as “meaty” or “savory”. Umami is Japanese which literally mean “delicious flavor”. Umami is now the commonly used term by taste scientists worldwide. It is considered a fundamental taste in Japanese food. The examples of foods contain umami taste are soy sauce, fish sauce and Roquefort cheese. What about “Spiciness”!? Spicy is not a taste, it is actually a form of pain sensation or a protective mechanism of the body that makes you aware of dangerous food which can damage your body!