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Discover Kokumi, The Sixth Taste In Japan

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Sixth taste?!  What is it?! Recently Scientists announced that they have discovered the sixth taste in Japan, although they couldn’t  explain what it tasted like.  We all are well versed with four types of culinary sensations: sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  Recently the fifth taste umami got legitimate recognition and was termed as “savory” and “yummy”. Again on the heels of umami scientists who worked overtime to discover the new taste kokumi.

 


 


How Does Kokumi Taste?


Scientists say that the compounds in kokumi don’t have any identifiable flavor or taste, but they seem to heighten the sensations of other tastes.  They activate the calcium receptors on tongue, which in turn heightens the sensation of other tastes, making sweets even sweeter and salty snacks even saltier.

 


Katie Drummond of AOL news is of the opinion that kokumi can be called “heartiness” because they are more of the rich taste. Scientists are of the opinion that some of the popular foods found in our kitchen like cheese, onion, garlic, and yeast extract may contain kokumi elements, which can be activated by various cooking methods such as searing, roasting, curing, aging and braising.


 


Theoretically Kokumi


The kokumi was discovered by Ajinomoto, a Japanese food maker . Ajinomoto is marketing  kokumi in the form of a yeast extract. Ajinomoto flew some of the world’s leading chefs like Jordi Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain; Paul Virant of Vie in Chicago; and Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation in Wan Chai, Hong Kong , to Hong Kong in October 2009, for cooking "kokumier" foods. There are many scientists out there who have expressed their disbelief on the news saying that they don’t know what exactly Japanese scientists are talking about.  Micheal Tordoff, one of the main researchers behind the discovery of calcium receptors says “I don't know what kokumi is”. He further added "I've talked to the scientists. They brought me samples. We do not know what these Japanese scientists are talking about." He further added that the scientists will continue with their studies on identifying the calcium receptors in tongue and brain.

 


It seems that today kokumi is just in its theoretical stage.  If its effects are practically proved then there are chances that kokumi will help you to curb the fats, without compromising with the tastes. Means you can use less salt, sugar and tamarind in the food because the kokumi will energize the calcium receptors in your tongue,which in turn will enhance the taste.  

 


Let’s hope that once kokumi becomes a feasible reality, we can discard MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) for ever and start believing in our tongues to enjoy the tasty and healthy food.  Also we don’t need to shell out huge amounts on buying low-fat, low–sodium chips which will still retain the same old taste of the traditional chips doused with oil and salt.


 


Image courtesy: foodlog.nl

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