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My IB chemistry research project Essay

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Molecular gastronomy is often thought about in the way of cooking in terms of chemical transformations within food. The real meaning behind molecular gastronomy is a practiced cooking method used both scientists and food professionals that study the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. [Feast for the Eyes] Molecular gastronomy seeks to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary. [Food for Tomorrow?] By studying this topic, it can be applied to the real world, by the means of the whole process of preparing, eating, sensing, and enjoying food involves tremendously on complex chemistry, physics, and biochemistry.

Within the lab, I’ll perform control experiments. To complete this experiment, I will cook several versions of the same dish with slight variations, followed by a blind tasting to see if the variations are significant.

My IB chemistry IRP will be laid out in this EDD form.


Research Question: Can we devise new cooking methods that produce unusual and improved results on the texture and flavor of food?

* Application Statement: The purpose of this experiment is to determine new culinary technique to create a new and uncommon and enhanced outcome to food. The whole process of preparing, eating, sensing, and enjoying food involves tremendously complex chemistry, physics, and biochemistry. For years, a new culinary trend called ‘molecular cooking’ has been touted as the most exciting development in haute cuisine. [Culinate – Eat to Your Ideal] Molecular Gastronomy will be the change to how we perceive food to our taste buds, and how it will affect the mood we’re in. [Kitchen Chemistry]

* Hypothesis: If we are trying to change a main ingredient and the way we cook the dish in a very appetizing dish by adding a new or odd element and new culinary catering skill, then I think that the flavor and texture of the dish made with the new cooking ingredient/cooking method will taste better then the original and have a positive effect on the mood of the taste tester.

* Independent Variable (I.V.): The main ingredient of a dish and food preparation process

* Dependent Variable (D.V.): The effect of the finished cuisine has on the tester, and how the texture/flavor have changed from the original dish.

* Constants (C.V.):


* Same cooking Pan

* Same Food products

* All the same utensils

* For the olives:

* 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and finely chopped

* 1 tablespoon agave nectar, or light maple syrup

* 1 teaspoon sugar

* Salt

* For the fennel:

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

* 2 tablespoons butter

* Blind Fold

* 1 large bulb fennel, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 8 pieces with the core intact

* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

* Cup dry white wine

* 2 to 3 cups chicken broth

* 1 teaspoons honey

* 20 raisins

* For the snapper: 4 (6-ounce) skin-on red snapper fillets, deboned

* Salt

* 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

* Passion-fruit vinegar (optional).

* Beef

* Variety of veggies

* Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, stir together the olives, agave nectar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. (They will be sticky.) Let cool. They can be stored in a cool, dry place for several days.

2. Place the oil and butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to brown, add the fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the fennel begins to color around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the wine, bring to a boil and let reduce by half. Pour in at least 2 cups chicken broth to almost cover the fennel. Stir in the honey and raisins. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tip of a paring knife easily pierces the core of the fennel, 20 to 25 minutes. Season the broth and fennel with salt to taste.

4. When ready to serve, generously season the fish on all sides with salt. Pour the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat. When the oil is hot, add a piece of fish, skin-side down, pressing on the flesh with a fish spatula for the first few seconds to keep it from curling. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Cook until the edges of the skin are golden and three-fourths of the flesh turns opaque, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

5. To serve, place two pieces of fennel, 2 to 3 tablespoons of the braising liquid and a few raisins in the center of a shallow bowl. Lay the fish, skin-side up, against the fennel and place about 1 tablespoon of the candied olives on top. If desired, drizzle the edge of the plate with a few drops of passion-fruit vinegar.

6. Repeat steps two through nine as trial two and three, but with the ingredient of beef and veggies, instead of red snapper.

7. Have tester be blindfolded and have them taste the variety of food after each trial, and record data.

8. Once done clean up area and dispose of dirty ingredients/ package up non-used food.

Data Collecting & Processing-

Data Table:

Flavor of the dish before and after cooking on scale of Bad (1) to excellent (10).


Trial 1 (Fish)

Before After

Trial 2 (Beef)

Before After

Trial 3 (Veggies)

Before After

Texture Test Before and after the cooking on scale of soft (1)- rough (10).


Trial 1

Before After

Trial 2

Before After

Trial 3

Before After

Qualitative Data:

Quantitative Data:

Conclusion & Evaluation:

Since I will complete this experiment, I hopefully will be able to conclude and make a distinct correlation on how ingredients are changed by different cooking methods, how all the senses play their own roles in our appreciation of food, how cooking methods affect the eventual flavor and texture of food ingredients, how new cooking methods might produce improved results of texture and flavor, how our enjoyment of food is affected by other influences, our environment, our mood, how it is presented, who prepares it.

Work Cited

Barham, Peter. “Kitchen Chemistry: Taste and Flavour Facts – Feature – Discovery Channel.” Discovery Channel International. Web. 13 Oct. 2010. <http://www.yourdiscovery.com/science/kitchen_chemistry/taste_flavour/index.shtml>.

Crain, Liz. “Edible Experiments – A Norwegian Blogger Goes Molecular :: by Liz Crain :: Culinate.” Culinate – Eat to Your Ideal. 9 Aug. 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.culinate.com/columns/blog_feed/khymos>.

Goldberg, Elyssa. “Feast for the Eyes: Molecular Gastronomy Puts Chemistry to Work in the Kitchen.” Columbia Daily Spectator | News, Sports, and Entertainment Coverage for Morningside Heights. Web. 14 Dec. 2010. <http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2009/04/30/feast-eyes-molecular-gastronomy-puts-chemistry-work-kitchen>.

MUHLKE, CHRISTINE. “Too Cool for School.” New York Times. 30 Sept. 2007. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/magazine/30food-t.html?pagewanted=all>.

This, Herv�. “Food for Tomorrow? : Article : EMBO Reports.” Nature Publishing Group : Science Journals, Jobs, and Information. July-Aug. 1999. Web. 10 Oct. 2010. <http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v7/n11/full/7400850.html>.

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