IFT 2018: Exploring the science of Umami & Kokumi
It all started with a bit of seaweed. While dining on kombu dashi (Japanese traditional broth), Dr. Kikunae Ikeda became convinced that there was another basic taste not being represented by the current four: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. He became fascinated with this concept and began researching the composition of the broth, until ultimately discovering that glutamic acid, a kind of amino acid, was the secret behind the deliciousness. He named the taste umami and then helped develop the first umami seasoning, Ajinomoto’s monosodium glutamate.
Umami may be the more well-known and widely accepted fifth taste, but that is not the only taste concept that has pushed the boundaries of scientific thinking. It is well known that there are certain characteristics that develop in well cooked, aged and fermented products that exhibit enhanced continuity, mouthfulness and thickness/body without obvious textural changes that cannot be delivered through the use of basic taste or aroma compounds. A solution to this issue was found from the investigation of garlic extract by a team of Ajinomoto scientists in Japan. They identified effective compounds for delivering this response and were thus called “kokumi” substances. "Koku" is a word used by chefs of Japanese cuisine to express the richness and body of a dish.
And no one knows umami, kokumi, and flavor better than world-renowned chef Chris Koetke. He understands the power of umami as a key component to building enticing and balanced flavor profiles. At this year’s IFT show in Chicago, IL he will be demonstrating these concepts of umami and kokumi through a culinary perspective at Ajinomoto’s Booth #S2226 on Monday and Tuesday of the show at 11:30AM and 2:30PM. Additionally, he will be bringing the concepts to life through two unique food demonstrations that are exclusive to the presentations. The first one will be an indulgently savory ramen while the second will be a delectable lentil beef stew. Both of these exclusive tastings are driven by macro level trends affecting the food and beverage industry, brought to life through simplistic concept breakdown and live tastings. The marriage of taste and concept will come to life through the presentations and aim to bridge food science and deliciousness.
Achieving a delicious umami and kokumi flavored product while also being mindful of health is a tricky endeavor. Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition shows visitors at the show exactly how to achieve that utilizing their delicious yeasts and yeast extracts. The line of ingredients focuses exclusively on how to create the enticing tastes and flavors of umami and kokumi while also reducing sodium. Under the brand name, Savorboost, their goal is to deliver high flavor impact to an application that wants to create that “wow” moment with their customers. Make sure to stop by the IFT Booth #S2226 for some incredible tastings or learn more about the ingredients at www.ajifoodsolutions.com.