The discovery of umami, the fifth taste

More than one hundred years ago, Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda wondered how a simple bowl of broth containing water, dried fish flakes, and a little bit of dried seaweed could be so mouthwatering. He knew the flavor would reside in either the fish flakes or the common seaweed known as kombu. Knowing an extract of kombu would contain fewer components, Ikeda set out to find the flavor in seaweed.

Eventually, he isolated a flavor he called umami, which means savory. A hundred years later, researchers in Florida identified the first umami receptor on the taste buds of our tongue.

See: “Umami: The Fifth Taste” by Jill Neimark on the website (2019)

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