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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Seaweeds for umami flavour in the New Nordic Cuisine

Ole G Mouritsen12*, Lars Williams23, Rasmus Bjerregaard4 and Lars Duelund1

Author Affiliations

1 MEMPHYS, Center for Biomembrane Physics, Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark

2 Nordic Food Lab, 93 Strandgade, DK-1401 Copenhagen K, Denmark

3 Restaurant Noma, 93 Strandgade, DK-1401 Copenhagen K, Denmark

4 Blue Food ApS, 2 Nordre Kaj, DK-8700 Horsens, Denmark

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Flavour 2012, 1:4  doi:10.1186/2044-7248-1-4

Published: 21 March 2012

Abstract

Use of the term 'umami' for the fifth basic taste and for describing the sensation of deliciousness is finding its way into Western cuisine. The unique molecular mechanism behind umami sensation is now partly understood as an allosteric action of glutamate and certain 5'-ribonucleotides on the umami receptors. Chefs have started using this understanding to create dishes with delicious taste by adding old and new ingredients that enhance umami. In this paper, we take as our starting point the traditional Japanese soup broth dashi as the 'mother' of umami and demonstrate how dashi can be prepared from local, Nordic seaweeds, in particular the large brown seaweed sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) and the red seaweed dulse (Palmaria palmata), possibly combined with bacon, chicken meat or dried mushrooms to provide synergy in the umami taste. Optimal conditions are determined for dashi extraction from these seaweeds, and the corresponding glutamate, aspartate and alaninate contents are determined quantitatively and compared with Japanese dashi extracted from the brown seaweed konbu (Saccharina japonica). Dulse and dashi from dulse are proposed as promising novel ingredients in the New Nordic Cuisine to infuse a range of different dishes with umami taste, such as ice cream, fresh cheese and bread.

Keywords:
umami; seaweed; dashi; glutamate; kelp; dulse; New Nordic Cuisine