A building block of many foods & essential for certain cooking reactions. Sensitive to heat, salt, and acid.

What are the fundamentals of protein?

Protein is an essential building block of food and a life-sustaining molecule.

Out of all the basic food molecules, proteins change their structure most easily and dramatically in the presence of heat, salt, or acid — making them especially sensitive to cooking processes.

Usually, protein strands go through denaturation and during cooking (think of an egg white transforming as it heats up). However, different protein types such as gluten or collagen can behave differently.

  • Gluten protein structures develop into long chains with and vastly change the texture of baked goods.
  • Collagen in tough cuts of meat transforms into tender and unctuous gelatin with heat and time, such as in meats.
💡 Energy: 4 calories per gram
🧪 Protein-related reactions:
🛠️ Protein-related techniques:

Protein-rich foods

  • Meat
  • Legumes
  • Bread
  • Cheeses

How does protein affect the elements of flavor?

In order of importance:

— Proteins come in many different textures, from crunchy to chewy to tender. Under or overcooking proteins immensely changes the texture of proteins. Proteins can even be suspended in liquids, such as in milk.

— Proteins provide us with long-lasting energy — we’re biologically wired to seek after protein-rich foods.

— Animal proteins can carry different aroma molecules that remind us of their signature taste. However, most of the protein flavor we experience is often a result of the surrounding the protein.

— Protein is essential to human life. Different cultures and diets consume different kinds of proteins. Depending on your lived experience, protein-rich foods can trigger nostalgia, emotions, or other associations.

— Apart from aroma, some proteins are quite neutral in flavor on their own. When some proteins are cooked so that the reaction occurs, the amino acid structures in protein, such as glutamates, can create the umami flavor.

— Protein can show up in most foods and thus can influence the visual element of a dish in infinite ways.

High Protein Recipes