This week’s Food Delicious Science is all about taste, so I thought it would be fitting to show you guys a dish that takes full advantage of the 5 types of taste receptors on our tongue: umami, sweet, sour, bitter and salt.
But before I get into that, did you know that taste and flavor are two different things? Taste, is one of the 5 sensations we sense with our taste receptors, while flavor is perceived when aromas travel from our mouths to our nose as we chew. Taste is obviously an important part of enjoying food, but without flavor, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between orange juice and strawberry juice.
With tangy bitter mustard, sour umami rich tomatoes, sweet onions, salty soy sauce, and umami filled chicken, this dish will stimulate all your taste receptors to varying degrees. But it’s the flavors created through the Maillard reaction, that really makes this dish shine. In the same way that caramelizing onions makes them more flavorful, by browning the chicken and garlic the process imparts a flavor that’s far more than the sum of its parts.
Another sensation that makes eating enjoyable is texture, and because of the way this dish is constructed you get different textures, tastes and flavors with each bite, depending on what you have on your fork. This allows you to play an endless game of mix and match that gets more addictive with every bite.
Most of the ingredients should be easy to find, but in case you’ve never heard of Mirin, it’s a sweet rice wine that’s often used in Japanese cuisine and is a core component of teriyaki sauce. It can be found in most Asian, grocery stores, but try and look for one that’s meant for drinking and not for cooking, as the ones for cooking tend to be loaded with corn syrup and salt. If you can’t find mirin, you can substitute a tawny port.
About Food – Delicious Science
Food – Delicious Science is the scientific story of the food on your plate. Michael Mosley and James Wong present a celebration of the physics, chemistry and biology that lies hidden inside every bite. The second episode airs Wednesday, May 24 at 10:00pm | Check local listings
Tomato Avocado Chicken
With tangy bitter mustard, sour umami rich tomatoes, sweet onions, salty soy sauce, and umami filled chicken, this dish will stimulate all your taste receptors to varying degrees. (Recipe Credit: Marc Matsumoto of Fresh Tastes.)
- For chicken:
- 8.9 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut into bite-size pieces)
- 1 large clove garlic (minced)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- For sauce:
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- For stir-fry:
- 3.5 ounces red onion (about 1/2 onion, sliced)
- 7 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1 avocado (pit removed and cubed)
- Marinate the chicken with the garlic, salt and olive oil.
- Prepare the sauce in a small bowl by whisking together the soy sauce, mirin and dijon mustard.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and then add the marinated chicken in a single layer. Fry on one side until golden brown and then flip and fry the other side until golden brown.
- Add the onions and then saute until they start to become translucent and start to brown around the edges.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and the sauce and then cover the pan with a lid. Steam for 1 minute.
- Remove the lid and then toss in the avocados. Turn up the heat and continue tossing until the sauce starts to caramelize.
Yield: Makes 2 large servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.