“I am tanned and I am sexier!” says the chicken breasts.

Hopefully, you have not gone too far after flash-seeing the title. This time, I would like to tell you a tale of tanned chicken breast who felt sexier after technically passed a ‘hot’ trip. People, you can ask your children or your little bros and sisters to read this tale cause it really is not an adult story. That is why I hope you are not over thinking about the words above.

How cool is this, huh? It is science!

Why do meats, bacon, onions, cookies, doughs, and chicken breasts taste better after being cooked? Why do we cook them? For the sake of safety and less microorganisms containing, you tell me. For the sake of tastier food, you tell me. Right. Due to the sexier chicken breasts could ever be, the tale would be in the capacity of making tastier food.

Foods are not unreasonably being tastier with any coincidence. There is underlying science with all its complexes reaction and compounds. The tanned color or the browning reaction we get while cooking is basically science. Yes, it is food science! In food science, such reaction called as Maillard ReactionThe name itself was taken from an early 1900s chemist who conducted the experiments as part of his thesis named, Louis Camille Maillard (1878-1936).

Thanks to Mr Mallard cause now we know how to posses delicious cuisines. Maillard reaction is the reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars in the increased temperatures. When the temperatures escalating, the browning happens to the surface of the foods. It is the non-enzymatic browning reaction. The reaction usually takes place above 140°C.

When the heat striking out, the reaction let hundreds of flavor compounds created. These compounds later in turn breakdown to form new flavor and more compounds. Each type of foods will set a distinctive or unique flavor compounds along with the reaction.

Although the studies have been doing around the century, there are still the unknown pathways of maillard reaction due to its complexness. Despite longing for unknown pathways, here are the factors taking role on forming the color and aroma: pH (acidity), types of amino acids and sugars, temperature, time, presence of oxygen, water, water activity (aw) and other food components all are important.

How does the reaction happen?

The first step of the Maillard reaction is the reaction of a reducing sugar, such as glucose, with an amino acid. This reaction is shown in figure 1 below and results in a reaction product called an Amadori compound. (Thanks a lot to THIS cool site! It is so helping)


Fig. 1 : The initial step of the Maillard reaction between glucose and an amino acid (RNH2), in which R is the amino acid side group (from ref. 2)

(i will not continue the Amadori compund browning reaction here. This one already been told on the site I have mentioned above. Please check it for your self! Thanks, much appreciate! :D)

The bigger the sugar is, the harder it takes to be completely reacted to amino acids. Pentose sugars (like ribose) will react faster than hexose sugars (like glucose). It also does comparable to dissacharides.

So here they are, all I want to share about Maillard reaction. Thanks for checking this out! The thing is, cooking your foods is not only for conditionally fulfilling its safety but also to let the compounds reacting and giving you tastier food! It is food science!

This is the end of the tale of tanned chicken breasts and friends who are sexier than ever after a long ‘hot’ trip. I ain’t playing trick on you, or am I?

 

Te amo,

Afi Wiyono

 

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