A Little Science Can Improve Your Kitchen
A highly scientific approach to cooking has long been a feature of some of the world's top restaurants, with their foams and jellies and complicated creations that vanish in a single bite. But even ordinary domestic cooks can benefit from a little basic science.
Take the order of adding condiments like sugar, salt, vinegar and soy sauce. Sugar consists of sugar molecules, and salt consists of a sodium ion and a chloride ion. A salt grain is smaller than a sugar grain, so salt permeates ingredients better. As salt tends to tighten ingredients, sugar cannot permeate them when it is added after salt.
The same goes for soy sauce, which is salt and soybean. In short, add the sugar first if you want it to do its full sweetening job. When boiling a large quantity of firm ingredients, add salt or soy sauce from the beginning because it raises the boiling point, so the cooking time shortens.
The temperature of food also affects the intensity of taste. For example, salty and bitter tastes intensify when the food gets colder, which is why some cold leftovers seem somehow tastier the following day.
Sweetness is most noticeable at 35 degrees Celsius. Iced coffee does not taste sweet even if way too much sugar or syrup is added because food tastes less sweet at low temperatures.
Sweet fruits contain monosaccharides such as fructose and glucose along with citric acid and malic acid. When they are refrigerated, their taste becomes insipid because sweetness is reduced while sourness remains. This is true for apples, grapes and tangerines.