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Fierce Umami 2

Umami is the essence of Japanese cuisine, and is recognized as one of the five basic tastes. Umami-rich Japanese stock, dashi, is the key element of the authentic Japanese cuisine. Since 1960s, umami was misunderstood to be the cause of “Chinese food syndrome”. Toxicology studies, however, can’t reproduce the syndrome. Three umami compounds identified almost a century ago are glutamate, insinuate (IMP) and guanosine monophosphate (GMP).
Konbu is rich in glutamate.
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Shiitame-mushroom is rich in GMP.
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Katsuobushi (bonito-flakes) is rich in IMP.
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Greg is explaining his recipe.
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Cherry tomatoes are rich in glutamate. Chew on it for a couple minutes. After sourness and sweetness passes the tongue, the lingering flavor is mostly umami. Aside from its own taste, umami alters the perception of the other four tastes. It makes sodium taste saltier and sugar tastes sweeter. However it also suppresses sour and bitter flavors. When students tried organic chicken soup and mushroom soups, the addition of MSG made each soup taste even better. My mother always added a teaspoon of “secret” as she called it to a soup or sauce at the end. The “secret” was often soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce or ajinomoto (MSG). Both sauces are rich in umami flavors. Umami has an ability to make food taste complete.
Organic soup vs. organic soup + MSG. The former was good, but the latter was yummy.
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• To understand the taste sensation associated with umami
• To understand the impact of umami on overall sensory perception

A. Ichiban Dashi (adapted from Food of Japan and Encyclopedia of Asian Food)


Volumetric Measuring Pitcher
Digital Balance
Medium Saucepot
Fine Mesh Strainer


1000 ml Water
1 ea Kombu, 2” x 2” square
30 g Bonito Flakes


1. Wipe kombu with damp cloth to remove any excess salt.
2. Place water and kombu in saucepot.
3. Place over medium heat and bring just barely to a boil.
4. Test kombu a thickest part. If not soft, add 30 ml of cold water and continue cooking just under a simmer until kombu is soft.
5. Remove kombu when properly cooked.
6. Add 60 ml of cold water and the bonito flakes to saucepot.
7. Bring pot to boil over high heat, remove from heat.
8. When flakes settle to bottom of pot, strain carefully through fine mesh sieve. Reserve until ready to use.

B. Miso Soup with Wakame and Tofu


Volumetric Measuring Pitcher
Medium Mixing Bowl
Medium Saucepot
Small Mixing Bowl
Digital Balance
1 oz Ladle

Cutting Board
Squeeze Bottle


1000 ml Ichiban Dashi (see above)
5 T Miso paste (Awasemiso or Shinshu)
2 T Dried Wakame
2 ea Scallions
1 ea Tofu Noodle Recipe (see Week 4)


1. Finely julienne scallion, green and white parts, on a steep bias to obtain 1 ½ “ lengths. Reserve.
2. Soak wakame in cold water in medium mixing bowl for 5 minutes until soft.
3. Remove wakame from water, squeeze, and pat dry. Finley julienne into 1” lengths. Reserve.
4. Pour ichiban dashi into saucepot and bring to boil over medium heat.
5. Place miso paste in small mixing bowl. Add 1 fl oz (1 ladle) of dashi to miso. Use whisk to mix into paste.
6. Pour tempered miso paste into remaining dashi broth. Mix thoroughly.
7. Ladle soup into serving bowls while still very hot.
8. Squeeze tofu noodle batter into bowls to made tofu noodles.
9. Sprinkle with scallions and wakame.

C. Roasted Mushrooms with Umami Seasoning Fluid Gel (adapted from Modernist Cuisine)

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Medium Mixing Bowl
Digital Balance
Roasting Pan
Small saucepot
Small cake or loaf pan
Fine Mesh Strainer
Cutting Board


30 ml Vegetable Oil
500 g Mushrooms, Common White
AN Kosher Salt
AN Black Pepper, Freshly Ground
300 g Brown Beef Stock
80 g Tomato Ketchup
60 g Honey
30 g Fish Sauce
20 g Sherry Vinegar
6 g Agar
150 g Dark Soy Sauce

(For the mushrooms)
1. Preheat oven to 3750F.
2. Quickly rinse mushrooms to remove any dirt and debris. Wipe off any stubborn material with a brush, towel, or paper towel.
3. Using a knife remove just the tip of the stem of the mushroom then cut mushrooms into ¼’s.
4. Place mushrooms in mixing bowl and add vegetable oil. Toss to coat.
5. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
6. Place mushrooms onto roosting pan and place in oven.
7. Roast for 20 minutes stirring once after 10 minutes and again after 15 minutes. Cook until golden brown and tender.
8. Remove pan mushrooms are cooked. Reserve aside to keep warm.

(For the fluid gel)
1. Combine beef stock, ketchup, honey, fish sauce, sherry vinegar and agar in saucepot. Whisk to combine.
2. Place pot on stove over medium heat. Bring to 950C for three minutes to hydrate agar, whisking occasionally to prevent scorching.
3. Remove sauce from heat and pour into cake pan/loaf pan mold.
4. Place mold in refrigerator. Cool until set.
5. Remove from refrigerator when set, and break into small pieces and place in bender.
6. Add soy sauce to blender with gel. Blend over medium speed to smooth sauce consistency.
7. Pass fluid gel through fine mesh strainer.
8. Serve in a small bowl with roasted mushrooms for dipping.


Booth, Shirley. 2002. Food of Japan. Interlink Books: New York, NY.

Myhrvold, Nathan, Young, Chris, Maxime Bilet. 2011. Modernist Cuisine. The
Cooking Lab: Bellevue, WA.

Solomon, Charmaine. 1998. Encyclopedia of Asian Food. Periplus Editions (HK)
Ltd: Boston, MA

Fierce Spherification

Week 4 - Lab 1- Gelation and Spherification
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Apple Caviar, Cider Gel, Tofu Noodles

• To demonstrate gelation using plant based gelling agents (agar)
• To demonstrate spherification and reverse spherification techniques utilizing sodium alginate and a calcium salt
• To demonstrate the production of hot gels using methylcellulose

A. Cider Gel (adapted from Alinea by Grant Achatz)


Small Disposable Cups (Dixie Cups)
Non-stick Cooking Spray
Plastic Wrap
Digital Balance
Cutting Board
Small Saucepan
Fine Mesh Strainer
Medium Mixing Bowl
1 oz Ladle


250g Granny Smith apples
250g Apple Cider
5g Kosher Salt
7g Agar Agar

1. Lightly spray interior surfaces of Dixie cups with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Line each cup with plastic wrap, trying to eliminate any wrinkles. Set aside.
3. Peel and core apples. Cut into pieces approximately 2”.
4. Place apples, cider, salt, and agar in small saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes or until apples are soft.
6. When puree is smooth, strain through fine mesh strainer into medium mixing bowl.
7. Fill 1 oz ladle half full and pour into prepared Dixie cups.
8. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.
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B. Apple Caviar (adapted from Modernist Cuisine by Myhrvold, et al.)

Digital Balance
Fine Mesh Strainer
Slotted Spoon or Fine Mesh Sauce Skimmer
Squeeze Bottle
Small Mixing Bowls (4) or Plastic Quart Containers


250g Apple Juice
2g Sodium Alginate
500g Water
2.5g Calcium Chloride
AN Additional Water, for rinsing spheres


1. Combine sodium alginate with 50g of apple juice in blender. Blend to incorporate.
2. Pour alginate juice mixture into mixing bowl. Add remaining apple juice. Stir to combine thoroughly.
3. Pour apple juice alginate mixture into squeeze bottle.
4. Blend calcium chloride with 500g water until completely dissolved. Pour into separate mixing bowl.
5. Fill two additional mixing bowls 2/3 full with cold water.
6. Drip alginate/apple juice mixture into calcium chloride bath, drop by drop.
7. After 1 minute, use slotted spoon or skimmer to remove spheres and place in first rinse bath.
8. Remove from first rinse bath and place in second rinse bath.
9. Remove from second rinse bath; gently shake to remove any excess water.
10. Store in lidded container until ready to use.
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C. Tofu Noodles (adapted from Modernist Cuisine by Myhrvold, et al.)


Digital Balance
Small Saucepot
Immersion Blender
Squeeze Bottle
Large Saucepot
Slotted Spoon or Sauce Skimmer
Plate or Soup Bowl


150g Water
7.5g Methylcellulose
340g Firm Tofu, diced
AN Salt
AN Sesame Oil
AN Additional Water for cooking noodles

1. Fill large saucepot 2/3 full with water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat until water is steaming but not bubbling and reserve.
2. In small saucepot, combine 150g water and methylcellulose. Stir to disperse.
3. Place pot on stove and bring to boil over medium heat.
4. Add diced tofu. Blend with immersion blender until smooth.
5. Season puree with salt and sesame oil.
6. Remove from heat and cool to 500C.
7. Place in suitable container and refrigerate to hydrate, at least 6 hours.
8. After proper hydration, transfer to squeeze bottle.
9. To make noodles, squeeze hydrated tofu puree into hot water. Allow to set briefly and remove with skimmer.
10. Place noodles in separate bowl, set aside or refrigerate.
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Achatz, Grant. 2008. Alinea. Ten Speed Press: Berkley, CA

Myhrvold, Nathan, Young, Chris, Maxime Bilet. 2011. Modernist Cuisine. The Cooking Lab: Bellevue, WA.
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Science of Cider Gel

This recipe was adopted from Alinea by Grant Achatz (1974-). Restaurant Alinea (2005-) was awarded the Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet Magazine in 2006 and subsequently was awarded three stars by Michelin Guide-Chicago. Grant Achatz is identified as the molecular gastronomist who is able to make creative pairing of smells and flavors. In an interview by NPR (March 03, 2011) he commented that “a lot of smells that aren't necessarily edible smell good, and they remind you of certain aspects of food. So making those associations with what smells good or smells a certain way and pairing that with actual edible ingredients is one avenue that we take creatively." At Alinea, cider gel is served with pheasant, shallot on smoking oak branch skewers. An interview shows how it is made and presented. It is one course of a 20-course meal.

Both ingredients, granny smith and agar, could be considered to be examples of rejected cornerstones. The first paragraph in the “Granny Smith Apple-the story of its origin” reads that “Of locally-grown apples, none is more esteemed than Granny Smith—attractive both in appearance and flavor, unexcelled as a keeper” (Sunday Times, Perth, WA, Australia, Sunday 2 November 1924). The article describes the second-hand account of the apple’s humble origin. The apple is named after Maria Ann “Granny” Smith (1799-1870) who cultivated the cultivar. It is a hybrid between rotted Tasmanian apples that Ms. Smith discarded in the creek and apples she was growing in her orchard.

Minoya Tarozaemon discarded a gel dish (tokoroten) in Kyoto, Japan in the late 1650s or early 1660s. It froze during the night, and thawed during the day. The cyclic freezing and thawing desiccated the gel. Minoya made the gel dish (tokoroten) using the freeze-dried material and noticed that the dish was more agreeable and carry less seaweed flavor. Minoya marketed the dried goods as kanten (meaning “frozen tokoroten”). This episode frequently retold is likely to be a folktale and not factual (Nomura, 1951, 寒天の歴史地理学研究, p16). Agar is used to make a popular Japanese dessert called anmitsu.

A consideration for choosing agar was that agar is suitable for vegetarians since it is derived from red-purple marine algae unlike gelatin. It is typically hydrated in boiling liquids and is stable across a wide range of acidity levels. The pH of apple juice is 3.35-4. It begins to gel once it cools to around 100ºF / 40ºC. Agar gel forms reversible gel. It melt at 185ºF / 85ºC.

Typically agar is used at 0.2% of the total weight to thicken, 0.5% for a firm jelly. Interestingly the recipe results in not very firm gels at 14%.
Category: None

Fierce Browning-Maillard Reaction

Taste of Browning
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Chinese Yeast Buns: Steamed vs Baked

• To observe and study the affects of moisture and temperature on the Maillard reaction
• Introduce the idea of yeast fermentation as a leavening agent (to be expanded upon later)

A. Yeast Bun Dough


Stand Mixer with Dough Hook attachment
Medium Mixing Bowl
Small Mixing Bowl
Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Digital Balance
Measuring Spoons


30 g Fresh Yeast (or 1 packet Dried Yeast)
500 ml Warm Water
3T Sugar
625 g All-Purpose Flour
1t Baking Powder
AN Sesame Oil


1. Place 250ml warm water in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over and allow to stand 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 t sugar and 65 g flour and mix to combine on low speed. Leave in warm area for 10 min or until bubbles form.
3. Add remaining 250 g warm water and remaining sugar to bowl. Mix to combine on low-medium speed.
4. Sift 250 g flour and baking soda together in separate bowl.
5. Add flour/baking soda mix to stand mixer. Beat until smooth first at low then medium speed.
6. Add remaining flour and beat at low then medium speed until dough becomes elastic and smooth.
7. Lightly oil medium mixing bowl with sesame oil. Remove dough from stand mixer to oiled bowl. Roll to coat all surfaces.
8. Cover with plastic film and place in warm area to rise until doubled in volume (approximately 2 hours) or allow to rise longer (3-5 hours) in cool area. Dough should not bounce back when pressed with fingertip.
9. After first rise, punch down dough to near flat again. Recover tightly, and allow to rise a second time.
10. After second rise, remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface.
11. Knead lightly to return elasticity and smoothness.
12. Divide ball in half.
13. Divide each portion into 10 even portions and shape into balls, proceed with cooking steps as follows (B&C)

B. Baked Buns


2 Medium Sheet trays


10 ea Small dough balls (from Part A)
AN All Purpose Flour, for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 3750F
2. Place the buns on lightly floured sheet trays, evenly spaced (5 per).
3. Leave to rest for 30 minutes in warm area, until doubled in size.
4. When appropriately doubled in size, place in preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.
5. Remove when golden brown and cooked through.
6. Eat immediately or allow to cool before storage.

C. Steamed Buns


Parchment Paper cut into 10 squares (3” x 3”)
Steamer Baskets with Lid
Pot (same circumference as steamer baskets)


10 ea Small dough balls (from Part A)
AN Sesame Oil (to lubricate parchment squares)


1. Lightly coat one side of parchment squares with sesame oil.
2. Place one dough ball on each oiled parchment square.
3. Place paper and dough in steamer basket. Space evenly and allow for expansion room.
4. Leave in a warm area and allow dough to double in size (approximately 30 min).
5. Meanwhile, fill pot 1/3 with water and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer.
6. Place steamer on pot and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Remove steamer from pot and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
8. Eat promptly or allow to cool completely before storing.


Brennan, Jennifer. 1984. The Cuisines of Asia: Nine Great Oriental Cuisines by
Technique. St. Martin’s Press: New York, NY.

Solomon, Charmaine. 1998. Encyclopedia of Asian Food. Periplus Editions (HK)
Ltd: Boston, MA

Tropp, Barbra. 1982. The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes.
Hearst Books: New York, NY.

The Maillard reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar usually requires heat. Baked bread (popular in western culture) is different from steamed bread (popular in eastern culture) in that steaming does not reach a high enough temperature for the Maillard reaction. The reaction generates aromatic compounds such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural. The former has buttery or caramel flavor while the latter has an odor of almonds. The reaction also generates flavor enhancer such as alapyridaine, which increases sweetness, saltiness and umami characters (Ottinger and Hofmann, 2003). The brown bits that are produced are called melanoidins. This polymer is reported to very beneficial (antihypertensive, prebiotic, xenobiotic metabolizing enzyme, antimicrobial and antioxidative activity).

Reducing sugar is required for Maillard reaction. Chicken leg un-basted.
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Chicken leg basted with simple syrup (predominantly sucrose which is a non-reducing sugar).
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Chicken leg basted with corn syrup (predominantly glucose which is a reducing sugar).
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Chicken leg basted with honey (predominately fructose which is a reducing sugar).
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The rate-limiting step in the reaction is the first step. High pH speeds up the reaction by deprotonating the amine group in order to become more nucleophilic. Although it has been suggested that high pH shifts the primary amine group (R-NH2) to R-NH “-", deprotonation of R-NH2 is unlikely (pKa=36). High pH however can deprotonate R-NH3 “+" (pKa=10.5) to form the more nucleophilic R-NH2. Addition of baking soda can speed up browning by raising the pH.
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Both Maillard reaction and caramelization occur when onions are sautéed. Baking soda (far right) can speed up Maillard reaction where as citric acid (far left) can slow down Maillard reaction.

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Non-enzymatic browning

Function of Sugars

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• To understand, determine and compare the relative sweetness of several sugars and alternative sweeteners.
• To understand the affect of sugars on structure and taste of a finished baked product.
• To view and demonstrate the phase changes of sugar as it is heated.

Comparative Tasting


Disposable paper cups (8)
Cup of plain water (1)
Discard receptacle


10% Sucrose Solution
10% Fructose Solution
10% Glucose Solution
10% Maltose Solution
10% Lactose Solution
.05% Stevia (Steviol glycoside) Solution
.033% Reb A Solution
.04% Monk Fruit (Mogoroside V) Solution


1. One fl oz of each solution will be placed in labeled disposable paper cup for each student.
2. Comparative ballot based on Onset, Duration, and Aftertaste, as well as flavor/mouth feel comments will be explained.
3. Taste the Sucrose solution first to provide a reference score of 1 (100) for each category.
4. Taste through each successive solution, recording scores for each category for each solution. Less sweet than sucrose = <1, more sweet = >1, scaled accordingly. Rinse mouth with clean plain water between samples. Samples do not need to be swallowed; they can be discarded in spare cup.
5. Record any observations on flavor, mouth feel, or any other noticeable characteristics.
6. Discuss rankings and observations with other panelists.
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Sugar Cookies (adapted from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book)


Digital Balance
Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment
Medium Mixing Bowl
Rubber Spatula
Plastic Wrap
Pasta Rolling Machine or Rolling Pin
3” Circle Cutter
Half Sheet Tray (4)


140 g All-Purpose Flour
.75 g Salt
75 g White Sugar (sucrose)
26 g Egg, whisked
AN Flour for dusting

1. Place flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Stir to combine with whisk.
2. Place butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. Cream together over medium speed.
3. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Stop mixer and scrape down sides with rubber spatula.
4. Add flour/salt mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined.
5. Remove from bowl and gather into ball. Divide into 4 portions and flatten each into disk.
6. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
7. Preheat oven to 3250F
8. After 1 hour, remove dough disks from fridge.
9. Remove plastic wrap and roll to ¼” thickness with rolling pin on floured surface or with pasta rolling machine (widest setting).
10. Use circle cutter to cut cookie from dough sheet and place on sheet trays.
11. Bake at 3250F for 13-15 min. Do not allow color formation.
12. When cooked remove from oven and remove from sheet tray with spatula. Place on ambient temperature sheet try to cool.

1. Replace white sugar (sucrose) with 75 g Fructose

A cookie made with fructose is darker due to Maillard reaction and less crispy. Fructose is almost twice as sweet as sucrose. Many diabetics use fructose since it doesn't affect their blood sugar as dramatically as sucrose.

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Cooked Sugar Phases (adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef, 2nd Ed)


Digital Balance
Small Saucepot
Sugar Thermometer
Pastry Brush in Clean Water
Spoon or Ladle
Ice Bath (bowl of ice and water)
Sheet Tray with Silicone Baking Mat


325 ml Water
285 g Granulated Sugar
170 g Glucose or Light Corn Syrup

1. Combine ingredients in small saucepot.
2. Bring to boil over medium heat. Brush down sides of pot with clean brush to help avoid crystallization. Once sugar is boiling stop brush and do not stir.
3. Insert sugar thermometer.
4. Cook syrup until 1150C (Soft Ball Stage), remove a spoonful to the ice bath and remove quickly. Place in one corner of lined sheet tray. Continue cooking rest of syrup.
5. Cook syrup until 1250C (Hard Ball Stage), remove a spoonful to the ice bath and remove quickly. Place in one corner of lined sheet tray. Continue cooking rest of syrup.
6. Cook syrup until 1500C (Hard Crack Stage), remove a spoonful, place in one corner of lined sheet tray. Continue cooking rest of syrup.
7. Cook syrup until 1600C (Caramelization), remove a spoonful, place in one corner of lined sheet tray. Continue cooking rest of syrup.
8. Continue to remove one spoonful at different color levels, until dark color is reached, then pour onto empty space of silicon lined sheet tray.
9. Observe differences in look and texture of sugar products.

Demo didn't work so well. Tiny sugar crystals formed behind the thermometer served as nucleuses to grow large crystals.
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In Greg's successful attempt, an amorphous sheet is clear and sticky.
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crystalline sheet is opaque.
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