What do toast, steak, and freshly roasted coffee beans have in common?
They’re all made delicious by the Maillard reaction, which you’ve probably used in your cooking many times, even if you didn’t know it.
The Maillard reaction is not a single reaction, but a group of reactions that occur when certain foods are cooked. Also known as the “Browning reaction,” it was first described by French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard in the early 20th century.
Chemical reactions occur between amino acids — which make up proteins — and simple sugars, giving some foods a brown color.
To do this, they need heat, but not much, otherwise the food will burn.
The Maillard reaction takes place between 140 and 165 degrees Celsius, depending master class. So, if you try to cook a steak in boiling water, for example, it won’t brown, because water boils at 100°C.
For the same reason, if the food you’re trying to cook is very moist, the reaction will take much longer, if it happens at all.
The result of the reaction is not only a brown color, but also a delicious taste and aroma.
However, different amino acids and sugars in different foods produce different tastes—which is why fried fish doesn’t smell like freshly baked bread, he explains. Modern kitchenalthough the same reaction occurs.