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After Umami, a New Japanese Taste Concept: Kokumi

Swiss flavoring/fragrance company Givaudan took a group of chefs to the Chefs Council 2010 in Hong Kong recently to promote the idea of using kokumi. Kokumi is a new Japanese taste concept which describes a certain type of mouthfeel the body detects through calcium channels on your tongue (which are also a fairly recent scientific discovery).

Kokumi might be considered the sixth flavor, except your tongue doesn't perceive its taste. Instead, it enhances the flavors sweet, salty, and umami; hence the dishes made at the kokumi demonstration were largely meat based and involved curing, braising, or roasting.

Chefs included: Jordi Roca, pastry chef at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, which has three Michelin stars and is #4 on the San Pelligrino World's 50 Best Restaurants 2010; Alex Atala, of D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, Brazil, #18 on the San Pelligrino list; Chicago's Paul Virant of Vie; and Alvin Leung of the Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

· The Kokumi Sensation [Smithsonian]
· The Japanese Define Taste Again [Independent]
· Chefs Council Blog [Givaudan]

Paul Virant and Givaudan's Stefan Strehler demonstrate kokumi techniques at Chefs Council 2010. [Photo: Givaudan]