Salty sauces reduce the taste of fish oil

Researchers at Nofima Mat have been investigating how sauces based on different basic tastes affect the taste of salmon. While bitter sauce changes the salmon taste the most, the fish oil taste is almost gone when the salmon is served with a salty sauce.

Professional taste assessors on Nofima Mat’s sensory panel have been testing Salma salmon on its own and in combination with sour, sweet, bitter and salty sauces, as well as a sauce based on the fifth basic taste, umami.

They found that the salmon taste was less prominent when the fish was eaten with bitter, sour or salty sauce and that the salty sauce with shellfish stock also reduces the taste of fish oil. It is the bitter sauce however, flavoured with chicory and grapefruit juice, that changes the salmon’s taste profile the most.

Basic research on the interaction of flavours

A healthy diet includes a lot of fish and vegetables, and generally speaking we don’t eat enough of either. One problem with fish is that some of its sensory properties, such as fish oil, are not to the taste of many consumers.

“What we have just been doing, as part of the work of increasing acceptance of fish, is to establish which tastes help to camouflage unwanted flavours and which increase the flavours that people like,” says Morten Thyregod Paulsen, a Ph.D. student at Nofima Mat.

During the survey, the eleven sensory assessors first tasted the salmon on its own, then the sauce on its own and finally the two in combination.

Culinary sauces

The basic taste sauces have been developed by students in culinary arts and meals science at the Institute for Restaurant and Meals Science at Örebro University, Campus Grythyttan.

The sauce that formed the basis of the basic taste sauces consisted of butter, flour, stock, water, thyme, fresh lemon juice and fresh grapefruit juice. To create the sweet sauce, the students added fennel, onion and honey. More lemon juice was the extra ingredient in the sour sauce and more grapefruit juice gave the bitter sauce its flavour. For the salty sauce, the students added sea salt and shellfish stock, and they attempted to make the taste of umami with the aid of the flavour booster MSG. The verdict of the sensory panel was that the students had succeeded with all the sauces with the exception of umami.

“Traditionally, sauces with different sensory properties have been combined with different types of food in order to achieve the desired interaction. In this study, salmon and sauce was used as the model meal in order to study such sensory interaction, but an important focus has also been to develop new methods for testing such combinations that can be useful tools for developing meals,” Paulsen concludes.

This research has been financed by the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products.

Consumer and sensory sciences  

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