Kokumi – Unlocking New Levels of Taste

For the longest time, the human tongue has only been able to distinguish the four primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami and Kokumi were more recent discoveries in the 20th century. While both the newer tastes contribute to the complexity and richness of flavour, they operate in distinct ways and, sometimes, come together to create sublime dishes. Symega has embarked on a mission to explore the full range of flavour enhancers that can add nuance to your food creations.

Wait, what about umami?

The umami taste comes from the presence of glutamate, an amino acid that is found naturally in various cooking ingredients. Umami not only adds depth and complexity to dishes but also elevates the overall sensory aspects of a meal, making it a crucial component in culinary artistry. We have spoken in depth about umami here.

So what’s kokumi?

Imagine a secret ingredient that makes dishes burst with an irresistible richness and roundness, taking them to a new level of deliciousness. Enter Kokumi, a Japanese flavour enhancer that doesn’t just add taste but creates a sensation of “mouthfulness.” It’s like the magic touch that makes flavours more present and balanced in your mouth. Derived from fermented foods like soy sauce and fish sauce, kokumi works by activating calcium receptors on the tongue, intensifying the signals to your brain and making everything from savoury stews to sweet treats craveable. The showstopper is a stable peptide called γ-EVG, found in various foods like yeast, scallops, and cheese. When added to dishes, it enhances umami, saltiness, and sweetness, making Kokumi a sought-after flavour enhancer in the culinary world — the secret weapon that turns an ordinary meal into an extraordinary culinary experience.

Kokumi is a recent discovery, often described as the sixth sense of taste or a “rich taste” derived from the Japanese. Its first identification is attributed to the Ajinomoto Group in the 1980s. While umami has a distinct flavour, Kokumi refers to a more complex and rounded gastronomic sensation. It is associated with fullness, richness, and mouth-coating texture, providing satisfaction beyond the basic taste elements.

Unlike umami, kokumi does not have a distinct taste of its own but rather amplifies and prolongs the perception of other tastes. Ingredients like garlic, onions, soybeans, and certain types of seaweed are known for their Kokumi-enhancing properties. It is often said that kokumi is instrumental in enhancing the umami taste to create a fuller, more satisfying culinary experience.

Umami flavours can impart a delicious taste found in meat, dairy, vegetables, and fish, originating from glutamate and ribonucleotides. Kokumi, the 6th flavour, provides a rich, lingering taste from calcium, protamine, glutathione, and L-histidine in milk, onion, cheese, and yeast extract. While umami is a salt substitute, kokumi can replace salt, oil, sugar, fat, and MSG, enhancing the overall flavour in various dishes.

The Future of Flavour Enhancement

The quest for novel and sustainable flavour enhancers evolves as the gastronomic scene evolves. It’s not just limited to discovering new tastes but the potential to create unforgettable taste experiences. The ongoing pursuit of healthier and more environmentally friendly options is shifting the way we think about flavour enhancement. This has been challenging the food technologists at Symega to push the boundaries of innovations in this field.

After extensive studies and experiments, we are delighted to present our Savoury Booster, a result of our commitment to enhancing umami and kokumi experiences. This product, crafted with yeast extract, maltodextrin, onion, wheat fibre, and other natural components, elevates the umami flavour profile in savoury products. Importantly, it achieves this without the need for MSG and artificial flavourings. It’s an excellent way to elevate the taste quotient in your seasonings and sauces.

In conclusion, at Symega, we believe flavour enhancers are the unsung heroes in gastronomy, transforming run-of-the-mill offerings into extraordinary products.

If you want to explore our flavour enhancers to elevate your products, contact us at marketing@symega.com.

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